I am a guy so maybe this is why I love the workings and systems of farms much more than the barn itself. These are the systems (fire protection, security, water, electricity, etc) I have found on some farms that show how people create solutions and work arounds.
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Almost every barn I go to has some electricity wired into the barn. Ordinances are usually observed and the wiring appears safe. Most barns today have enough power to run many of the diagnostic equipment vets bring or for the attachment of motors in farrier trucks on with exercise equipment. And then there are some barns looking for a reason to start a fire.
Systems to feed horses are developed to make life easier on the caretakers, keep the food in one place (efficiency), slow the consumption rate (slow feeders), keep the food from spoiling (weather) or automate the feeding time so horses can have food added at unattended times.
Fire in a barn is unimaginable yet I have seen a few and the results afterwards. Fire scares me. The best thing is to prevent it from happening. The next best is to have a suppressant system in place.
These noise makers are handy to have when the power goes out. The most common use is for the water pump but you can also keep a filled pressure tank in your water system for emergencies. Another good reason for back up power is for electric fans in the summer here in FL.
Believe it or not, I have seen and have worked in some barns that are heated. Some heat with overhead force hot air systems and others with radiant heat conducted through the concrete floor. Fans and water seem to be the cooling mechanisms of choice. Some veterinary hospitals have both central heating and cooling.
The gallery has images of these systems in barns I have been to.
The primary purpose of electricity in a barn is to have lights but unfortunately the placement of lights have been left to the discretion of architects and electricians – not horse professionals. The results give us poor lighting and dangerous if not just plain stupid positioning of the fixtures and switches.
The advent of inexpensive outdoor cameras and electronic sensors have led to this topic. The visual recording helps to prevent theft and worker abuse of horses. They are watching…. Door and barn entrance monitors will identify the Houdini horse in the barn, a stall door accidentally left unlatched or the presence of an unwanted late night visitor.
Blocking direct sunlight using shades is important in hot climates. The direct heat on the horse or barn areas make life uncomfortable and even dangerous. Wind, on the other hand, is welcomed in the south while it is bone chilling in the north. Here are some ideas I have seen in my travels.
Solar panels are improving in their ability to generate electricity and usually require a lot of roof space to become useful. Barn and arena roofs are large enough to generate the electricity needed to power a farm. In the future, panels will generate more electricity per exposure area shrinking their footprint in addition to becoming incorporated into the roof covering improving aesthetics.
Vectors are flying insects like stable flies and mosquitos which not only annoy us and our horses but they also carry and distribute diseases. Birds soil our barn structures, dive at us when we get too close to the nest they have built in the rafters and also can carry disease (EPM). I have only included flying things as pest control (ground animals) are usually offered through professional services (bait stations, ant contraceptives) that are not part of farm systems.
My large animal veterinary medicine professor told us a story of a visit to a dairy barn in the middle of winter filled with milking cows all with pneumonia. The farmer was perplexed but my professor knew the answer. He took a hammer and broke open every closed window. Ventilation is the best way to keep the lungs healthy was the moral of his story. I have always believed this.
Water either comes from the ground or from the sky. It is then tapped into and poured into a container for our horses to drink. While simple in concept, the different systems devised by humans to get this heavy liquid necessary for life to the horse are many.