New small barn- ventilation and flooring help?

Nuttbynutter

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Hi folks! 3 months behind schedule, but my framers have finally started on my barn, and I have some questions about ventilation, floor substrate and etc. I have 2 bred Toggenburg does arriving in a few weeks (kidding in February), and will grow into a small herd of goats and maybe also a few sheep (I know about mineral needs differing etc) in time.

The barn is a 16x24 pole barn with a simple gable roof, it will have a “hay loft” (not much can fit up there, I know). There will also be a 8x24 lean-to on one side that will be the chicken coop and covered run, but this will be separate from the main barn because I know all the chicken dust isn’t great for goat lungs. The barn will have a metal roof and metal siding, and a dirt/gravel floor. It is on a built up, flat area of an east-facing hill, I’ll need to lay a perforated pipe or dig a little ditch about it to prevent spring snowmelt from running in if we have a fast melt.

I live in a windy mountainous area of Nova Scotia, in a snow belt. About 9 feet of snow in the winter (plus some sleet/freezing rain/rain), and usually accumulate about 4 feet or so that doesn’t melt from January-April. Our Summer temps average about 25’C/77’F but reach 35’C/95’F for a week or two, and winter temps average about -15 or -10’C (5 or -5) though we go down to -30’C (-22’F) for a week or two and also just randomly for a couple of days here and there. It’s pretty windy here- lately we’re getting days with 100km/hr gusts twice a week, and it comes from a different direction each time haha.

So for ventilation: I have 4 good size operable windows for the barn, I’ll put 1/2” hardware cloth/mesh over the screens and these will be open most of the time in the spring/summer/fall, except in rainstorms when we get rain that comes sideways and upside down haha. But I’m concerned about the barn being “too tight” in winter. I’m assuming that like my chickens, they’ll want great ventilation, but no direct drafts.

I was thinking I could start the top of the siding a couple of inches down from the under the eves, down both long sides of the building, and just screen this strip in with hardware cloth. Would this be enough ventilation? Would I want just a narrow strip of a few inches, or would you recommend maybe doing a wider strip (6”? 12”?) but making these vents closable during storms?

For the base/floor- posts are in, and no budget for a concrete floor. I have to bring up the level of the floor by about a foot. I have a little tractor with a bucket and tiny excavator, and a couple of big piles of soil by the house from previous earthworks, so I can haul this soil down to level things and more or less grade it slightly to prevent flooding in case of heavy rainier snowmelt (I’ll also be putting in a tile drain or little ditch on the high side to accommodate a rapid snowmelt). I’ve read a lot of folks like gravel as a base, and I can get a load of it to spread. But what size gravel is preferred? Do I need washed gravel, or is gravel with fines OK? I’ve also read some people prefer sand, some use stall mats on top and some don’t. I have tons of straw to cover it with (we are in the midst of building a strawbale house). I will build some platforms/“bunk beds” and such for them, and will likely make another post regarding layout next week once I get past this main framing stage.

Thanks for any insight and recommendations!

(The coloured pics were my original idea I did in Sketchup, the black and white sketch is from the engineer and this is the correct roofline etc, to give you an idea)
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Baymule

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That looks like it’s going to be an awesome barn! I’m currently without a barn, sold farm, moved to temporary small place, bought another farm with no barn and run down fences, long story. I raise Katahdin hair sheep and put up some temporary shelter.

I already have a dirt floor, but I’m in HOT and HUMID east Texas, you are in winter weather vastly different from mine! Gravel as a substrate would help to drain any water that got in the barn. Plenty of sand over that so that when you clean the barn, you aren’t scooping up the gravel.

I use deep litter and clean the barn (when I had one LOL) a few times a year. Spread in the garden or on pasture, it makes fine fertilizer. Don’t have chickens now, but when I build a coop and get chickens again, I’ll deep litter them too. I don’t even have the winter weather you have, but the sheep and guardian dogs like to snuggle in deep hay.

I don’t have experience with stall matts. I’m thinking they would make clean up easier, but would hold the urine, requiring lots of straw.

On ventilation, I have no experience with that kind of cold. My old sheep barn was a lean to roof off the side of a portable building, open on 3 sides. We had a freak winter storm of 3 ice storms and 10 inches of snow, temperatures hovered at -6F in February of 2021. I had 15 brand new baby lambs and didn’t lose any. So I got a small taste of what you deal with on a much larger scale.

My guess would be to watch ammonia levels at ground level where the goats and especially kids will be breathing. I like the ventilation with option to close it during severe cold. I’m thinking maybe ceiling fans to keep the air stirred up, or maybe a shop fan ( in a cage so the goats cannot get to it, because they are intelligent stinkers) . Or maybe suspend it in some way so that it’s not blowing directly on the animals.

Just throwing thoughts out there. Your barn design is super nice and you will be so happy with it.
 

Finnie

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I’m no builder or architect, so what I say might not be feasible, but I do raise poultry, so I know something about dust. 😅 You mentioned having the chicken lean-to separate from the barn. You also mentioned soffit vents all along the side walls under the eaves of the barn.

I see in the black and white drawings, that the roof of the main barn looks like it’s continuous with the lean-to roof. That rules out the ability to have an under eave vent going along that wall, unless it vents into the lean-to. If that is the case, then I guarantee you you will get chicken dust, and lots of it, going into your goat barn.

So the way it’s drawn, that whole soffit is sealed and you will lose a whole lot of available ventilation. What I would do (and again, anyone who knows building design better than me can please correct any of my error in thinking) is to give the lean-to a separate roof that is several inches lower than the eaves of the main roof.* Put in your soffit vents along that whole wall, and have the lean-to roof completely sealed along that whole length. That will stop the air from flowing up the chicken coop roof and into the goat barn. However, then you need to address the ventilation for the chickens because they will have no “ridge vent” at the peak of their roof.

That will depend on how you have designed the walls, doors and windows of the lean-to. Without knowing too much about how your climate and wind patterns are different than mine, I would have a long soffit vent at the bottom of the lean-to roof, and gable end vents at both ends. In addition to any windows and doors.

Ok, going back to the very beginning, maybe a goat barn can get away without that whole side of soffit vents? I don’t know. If that’s the case, ignore everything I just said! 😂 (Except do make sure the chicken area is sealed from the goat area, and not just at the roof, but also along the walls and floor.)

* Making the lean-to roof lower than the barn roof means you either have to have shorter lean-to walls or taller barn walls. Shortening the peak of the lean-to means you have to also shorten all of the walls to keep the pitch of the roof at least at the minimum for rain and snow run off. Since the lean-to is only 6 feet high at its smallest side, shortening it may cause problems with head room. Making the goat barn taller might be better, but it also might make it a lot more expensive. (Need longer studs than you were planning.)
 

Finnie

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By the way, I wanted to add that I LOVE your 12:12 roof pitch! That’s what I have on my chicken coop. My coop is much smaller than your barn will be. It’s 12x14. But I had a hard time finding a shed company that would build what I wanted instead of a low-pitch prefab shed roof.

Here are “before and after” photos of mine. When it was built, and 6 years later after it has aged a lot.
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Also, my builder forgot to put in the ridge vent! And after promising to come back and fix that, he never did.🤬

It has soffit vents and windows, and I have just lived with it that way, and the super high ceiling allows for it to all be ok.
 

SageHill

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Wow - exciting times putting up anew barn. I can't help out with the flooring as I have I have interlocking rubber pavers in the aisle and softstep cushion and rubber mat in the stalls. I do have ventilation though! There's an open space between the metal roof over the aisle and the metal roof over the stalls. Loads of ventilation - but I'm in a very temperate area: 30-100f (Southern California) -- I love your idea of the hardware cloth --- thinking that would be great even for me to discourage the birds from nesting in the barn. All my stall doors are dutch style doors - I can open the top half for ventilation as well which is perfect for summer here.
I'll get a pic of the roof for you next time I head over to the barn.
Here's the pics - though in your climate this may not be the best idea.

IMG_4885.jpeg
IMG_4884.jpeg
 
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canesisters

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I can only comment on the things I've dealt with in my own barn - built in 2005
Virginia has wet & cold winters
Metal truss barn with soil floors.
Accidently put in the middle of a looong, gentle slope.

Things I would change IMMEDIATELY if I could:
1. Line the entire structure with that foam board insulation. The inside of the metal panels frosts over night and then rains in the morning... RAINS... not drips...
2. Raise the floor at least 6" above the surrounding ground level & add gutters and a water diverting system (french drains????) of some kind. At least 1/3 of my barn stays muddy when we have lots of rain. Standing-water-muddy in really bad weather. This dramatically increases the moisture inside the barn.... see #1
2.5 Level the inside of the barn!!! My barn was built with 0 ground prep (we didn't know any better..) and the floor slopes gently toward the front doors.. also is on a slope .. so in HEAVY rain the water would run across the paddock and under the barn wall and FLOW across the barn floor and then out the other side. I've put in a ditch and some diverting since then.. now it only pools up outside the wall & seeps in... see #2 about the muddy floors.
3. Gravel covered by sand covered by heavy landscaping/drainage fabric & 'crush & run' at ALL doors
4. Thermostat controlled exhaust fans in the peak of the roof at both ends. It gets HOT in there in the summer!!!
5. Motion sensing lights on all 4 corners. My barn sits 'inside' the paddock/pastures & the little boogers will hide along the DARK walls if they don't want to be brought in or moved to a different paddock. I wish that thing lit up like a runway when anything moved within 10' of it.
6. My stalls were designed for horses 10'x12' with 4' door in the corner. The size works for my small cow - BUT - if I could have seen the future I would have 1. made the stall walls easily removable so that they could be reconfigured as necessary for other animals. And 2. I would have graveled the floors and covered in sand & mats. When I strip them down to bone dry, solid flooring in the spring I will have roughly 12"-18" difference from the highest spot along the wall to the deepest spot in the middle. With my current set-up, getting the barn cart in & out to clean stalls is quite the undertaking. Especially when Eva and Blossom are IN the stalls and acting like the cart (that they see every night) is going to eat them.
 

Baymule

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Seeing the bare metal ceilings reminded me, DECK the roof with plywood, roll out roofing felt, THEN put on the metal roof. It will stop the drips of metal sweating.

Plus in my area, HEAT is the main factor, so on my old sheep barn, we rolled out radiant heat barrier over the roofing felt, then put the tin on. It cut the heat in the barn by as much as 15-20 degrees. I’d take the sheep to pasture on the other side of the driveway and when they had full bellies, they’d go to the gate and yell at me, wanting to go home to ruminate.

For your kind of cold, plywood decking and insulation board might be a better idea. Or use both the roofing felt and insulation board. These days OSB is considered to be plywood and REAL plywood might as well be solid gold. So if you use OSB, paint both sides with a sealant. Over time, humidity causes it to swell and I don’t care what anyone says, OSB degrades and comes apart.
 

canesisters

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Wow - exciting times putting up anew barn. I can't help out with the flooring as I have I have interlocking rubber pavers in the aisle and softstep cushion and rubber mat in the stalls. I do have ventilation though! There's an open space between the metal roof over the aisle and the metal roof over the stalls. Loads of ventilation - but I'm in a very temperate area: 30-100f (Southern California) -- I love your idea of the hardware cloth --- thinking that would be great even for me to discourage the birds from nesting in the barn. All my stall doors are dutch style doors - I can open the top half for ventilation as well which is perfect for summer here.
I'll get a pic of the roof for you next time I head over to the barn.
Here's the pics - though in your climate this may not be the best idea.

View attachment 95034View attachment 95035
BEAUTIFUL! Looks brand new
 

Baymule

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I just bought this farm, closed July 15. It has a craptastic something or another that loosely resembles a shed. On the left, not in picture is a shed with closed doors, barely a step above craptastic.

99595325-CD0D-46E0-A9EB-A131E54F7757.jpeg


It is a brilliant or maybe redneck ignorant example of metal roof condensation and drips. I took pictures for your viewing pleasure.

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Lines of drips every 2 1/2 feet.

I have to position the metal trash cans that hold feed between drip lines.

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This is supremely annoying. Avoid this with decking, roofing felt, insulation board or whatever, but you do not want to lay out money for this.

I will tear down this craptastic shed, but for now it’s all I have. As long as it’s reasonably serviceable, there are other more pressing things ahead of it. Annoying. Why have a roof if it’s going to rain all over everything you put under it?
 

SageHill

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BEAUTIFUL! Looks brand new
Thanks. It's a year old - so yup brand new. After a year there isn't anything big that I would change. While we get hot in the summer we're at 1200 ft in elevation and westerly winds/breezes from the ocean start up around 2pm and cool things off on most days. Our biggest issue is heat. If I open the dutch doors to all the stalls and/or open the doors to the corral ventilation takes care of the cooling. I could have had 2 more 12x12 stalls - but I opted for a 12ft "porch/patio" with an overhang on the south side. While more stalls is always something all of us would like, I do enjoy that area and wouldn't trade it for more stalls (at least so far!).
 
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