Ideas for three sided shelter conversion?

We have a deep three sided shelter on our new property. The climate is typical for northern Midwest.

We just moved here a few days ago, so the cow and goats are in one pen and the pony and donkey are in the other. The cow and goats will have their own spots soon.

This barn has electric and, right now, we need to use heated buckets (hence the extension cords). I was thinking about making it into one big indoor stall to share. Attaching a paddock isn’t an option because it opens into the yard where we have to be able move tractors and such around, so they will be walked to a turnout area (round pen with panels, for now, permanent small pasture later).

What if I just did a solid board half wall in front with a gate? I could put a 10 by 10 stall in the back to feed the toothless pony and let the other two horses and mini donk share the remaining space?

For flooring, it’s rock now, I was thinking stall mats with shavings on top. The size is 36 feet deep and 24 feet wide.

The walls will need kickboards as well.

Another question, how high do the kickboards need to be?

I would say generally about 5ft, if you had a huge warmblood or something like that I would go higher just for a crazy buck or kicks safety sake. The way your boards are set up it looks like you could easily do channel and wood though which would be thicker and even better if you ever converted it into full stalls.

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I would probably build two stalls across the back with a removable divider so you can have two 12x12’s or a 12x24 if needed, and then use the front as a larger space.

I don’t think I’d build one stall in the corner because that’s going to leave a smaller space somebody can get trapped in. Just like you probably wouldn’t do a 12x12 run-in for a pasture with multiple horses, it’s too small if two of them get into it and have a disagreement.

You know your herd though, if they all get along that might work fine for you.


Thanks for the input! That is something to consider.

Three 12 x 10 stalls …takes up the 36’ length along one long side.
That leaves the entire other long side to put space for storage/tack etc.


Or, (2) 12 x 10 stalls along the back and 12 x 4 storage area with a door.

I know 4’ isn’t that wide but it could work for blankets, first aid supplies, and a couple of feed bins (just in case some naughty creature escapes, they can’t get into the vittles!)


I agree, well conceived a 4x10 or 12 space can offer a lot of varmit secure storage.

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I agree I like the idea of making stalls for each horse/donkey then separate pens for the others if you are going to need to be bringing them in and turning them out.

I’ve always wanted a huge, open barn for social shelter, but I’m not sure I love the idea of locking a bunch of animals in one without free access to an exit. If they start picking at one another, 36’x24’ suddenly isn’t as big as it seems.


Thanks for more input. There is plenty of storage space next door.

What direction does the opening face, relative to prevailing winds? Your winter weather generally will be blowing in from the north and west, but in a snowstorm you can get snow swirling in from any direction. The building creates its own wind currents and eddies.
My barn in Iowa (so, similar prevailing winds as you) has a 12x12’ door that opens to the south. If I don’t close the doors before a significant snowstorm, the barn floor would be snow-covered at least 5 feet into the barn. Now I also have a 3-sided building that looks identical to yours up on our hill, and it opens to the east. Hardly gets any snow in it at all despite the much larger opening. YMMV if your building’s well-sheltered by terrain and windbreaks.

All this to say, the weather patterns would strongly influence how much of the front half I’d use. I wouldn’t do three stalls along the sidewall because the critter who has the front stall will not have much protection from the elements. They’d probably get more protection standing outside, where they can choose which side of the building gets them out of the wind.

I think I would do 2 stalls in the back, so you always have a feeding stall for toothless pony, and if you ever have someone on stall rest, you can keep a buddy in with him.

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What direction does the opening face? (and please confirm your prevailing winds are W and NW?)
What is behind and to either side of the building?
(I know you said the opening faces the yard so can’t be used as a giant run-in)
Are you planning a horse barn/mixed barn or will this be the only building?
When you say the cow and goats will have their own area do you mean housed separately from this building?
If this will be for horses, do you prefer stalls or run-in style? Do you need tack/feed/hay areas in this building?
If you need hay storage - what kind of bales (small, large round or large square?)

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Could you add a couple of doors and a paddock or two off one side?

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