Maintaining fresh air, comfortable temperature, and a well-lit environment for horses and humans through our ever-changing weather is challenging but achievable and economical – the natural way. And ventilating the barn properly is not only advantages to animal health, but also building structure.
The objective is to bring into the barn fresh outside air and exhaust moist stale air by harnessing weather – in particular the wind and temperature. Of course, in summer we moderate barn temperature and air quality by opening windows and doors – that’s easy. Winter presents the real challenge, as temperature is employed carefully to exit warm moist odorous air – often laden with impurities like dust and mold – upwards, while bringing in fresh outdoor air from below, without radically cooling temperature.
Unlike our homes, barn moisture is significant (due to up to 30 animals giving off moisture) and this very humid environment, if not dealt with correctly, can cause doors and other openings to warp and even more insidious structure damage.
Barn doors are a primary ventilation tool. There are several different styles and what is appropriate for your facility depends on its floor plan and use. For elegance and durability Dutch Doors – single or double, sliding or swinging – provide a great look as well as time-tested efficient ventilation. Dutch Doors are designed to split horizontally to contain animals and provide an ideal method to source fresh air and control temperature.
Window openings may also provide air flow – especially if configured perpendicular to end doors – providing excellent cross ventilation. Individual stalls, if not fitted with Dutch Doors, should have at least one fully and easily adjustable window for manipulation of the micro-environment for its resident.
The sun provides the best light, creating a bright and inviting atmosphere indoors. In addition to windows, Dutch Doors may provide a beneficial increase in sunlight if built with tempered glass instead of solid panels. This glassed Dutch Door style not only presents an elegant open look, during winter they create warmth from sunlight to assist ventilation.
Many think that a door is a door, not so in a barn situation. Doors in a horse barn are subjected to daily abuse from a number of elements including moisture trying to escape, horse pressure and kicking, wheelbarrow traffic and opening and closing. When designing your barn doors, one of the factors that needs to be looked at is: are you building using a full foundation for your barn or a simple pole barn structure?
A pole barn structure will be more likely to move and shift as it ages then a full foundation structure. Consider using a Dutch Door with a full steel frame around the door, this will help to keep the opening square and true. Adjustable hinges are another consideration when making your building decisions, so that if the barns shifts or the doors twist the adjustment can come from the hinges instead of rehanging the doors. It is important to design your latch so that it has some “play” in it, so that if the door or the building shifts over time, the latch will still close properly. Steel frame doors are made to take the abuse of the farm and barn along with the moisture that comes along with it. We all know there is nothing worse than digging your door out from the snow and then still not being able to open it.
By using the appropriate doors and windows for your barn you will save money and maintain your horses and your health. Taking advantage of natural lighting and ventilation is one of the best design aspects to ensure your facility provides continuous enjoyment and comfort.