Why the Monitor Barn is Still a Bestseller
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Barns built to house livestock, hay and grain, have been a necessity across the world for centuries and over time their uses have become more and more specialized. In the later 1890’s the development of a new roof system, the monitor roof, provided farmers with much needed additional ventilation to help negate the negative impact of bacteria on grains and crops and improved the health of their livestock during long winter months where access to fresh air was hindered by poor weather. The monitor roof design increased both natural light and improved air circulation.
Think of a monitor barn as three separate boxes, one on each side of an aisle and a third above that creates a roof. The boxes on each side are perfect for housing livestock in stalls such as horses, or housing cattle for milking. The raised center roof enables air to be drawn in from open doors on both ends of the aisleway on the lower floor and rise above, where windows on each side of the top tier dissipate the heat while allowing bacteria killing natural light and fresh air to enter the building. Essentially, a shaft system that moved air from the ground up into the rafters and out through the sides.
A loft or floor could be added to the second story above the aisle to store grain and hay, and openings in the gable ends could move air through the loft space. Often hatches in the loft floor provided chutes to feed the livestock below with grain from the threshed crops stored above, and hay could be dropped into the stalls below for dry feeding of horses.
This design was popular into the 1920’s where monitor barns were very popular in New England. A great example is the monitor barn ‘West Monitor’ in Richman, VT.
Today, the process of building a monitor barn is as simple as 1,2,3 as the construction lends itself well to modular building and is a quick and easy set up. The 3 boxes, two for stalls on each side are set a distance apart, and the third box is simply added on top, without a loft floor.
You can construct all three boxes to your custom design and build in their factory where weather delays are never an issue. A good modular building company will give you engineer approved plans for permits and ensure the build meets or exceeds your local snow and wind load requirements. Stalls, aisles and loft space can be sized for your particular needs, sided and roofed with traditional wood or more modern products such as LP Smartside (which is great as it is almost maintenance free), and the stalls pre-finished with oak kickboards, stall doors and windows, and a tack room and feed room. The 3-box structure of a monitor barn means transportation is straightforward, and set up requires a small crane to lift box 3 into place on top, where it is then secured for a water tight finish.
The simplicity of the monitor design has meant it has maintained its popularity, as it is affordable. The cleverness of the design means not only great ventilation for the health of your horse if there is no loft floor added, yet also offers storage above in a full or partial loft space for hay and provisions if that is required.
We spoke with Jill Siragusa, Chief Marketing Officer at the leading modular horse barn building company Horizon Structures L.L.C, based in Atglen, PA, to learn more about the popularity of the monitor barn.
“Over the years Horizon Structures has built all manner of custom designs of monitor barns. The monitor barn is so versatile and cost effective for our customers. You really can’t go wrong with this proven design. The traditional style is attractive and practical for daily use,” explained Siragusa.
When sourcing a modular monitor barn builder be certain to work with an experienced and professional manufacturing team that hopefully are also horse owners, that will deliver a great product with excellent craftsmanship to ensure longevity and offer you added value such as financing opportunity, prompt delivery timelines and lots of customization options.
“At Horizon Structures we help our customers through the entire barn purchasing process from start to finish. A great place to begin is to download our guide to The Perfect Barn, and decide on all the features you want and need or you can visit barns in your area using our Barn Finder Map and see for yourself the quality of our workmanship and talk with barn owners about their experiences with us directly. We provide a to the penny quote including all delivery and set up charges so there are no hidden surprises, and if you need help financing the build we offer that too. You’ll receive a full set of plans for permits and detailed site preparation instructions for your contractor. We will even liaise directly with your site preparation crew to save you the trouble if it makes life easier for you. Delivery and set up is efficient and on schedule, and naturally Horizon Structures stands behind its Amish built products with excellent warranties. We are very proud of the products and service we provide,” stated Siragusa.
If you currently board your horse think of that payment as money you could be putting into your own property and into your own barn, and consider the option of keeping your horses at home. It is surprising how quickly you can have a barn right in your back yard and ready to use, even the same day it is delivered.
“There really is nothing quite as wonderful as keeping your horses in your own backyard,” said Siragusa, “ I own several horses, including Alex, my wonderful Fjord, who is quite the character. When you walk into your own barn for the first time, with the lovely aroma of freshly sawn wood and start setting up beds for your horses in spacious clean stalls, it gives you a feeling of complete contentment. Being free to control your horse’s health and well-being is truly a blessing.”
Once you have kept your horses at home, it’s unlikely you’ll ever want to go back to boarding them out. The ability to spend extra time with them everyday, instead of commuting to and from the barn, and to take care of them just the way you want to, is wonderful. The tradition of the monitor barn on a homestead is popular for good reason, as you can stall your horses and store supplies all in one structure and enjoy the center aisle for both air circulation and a place to tack up your horses, and provide a dry covered area for the vet and farrier to work.
So don’t horse around. Get started making your dream a reality today. If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to the Horizon Structures team for answers at 1-888-447-4337.