Stable only for horses?

According to the OSM Wiki building=stable should only be used to tag a building as a stable for horses. However, it seems that at least in Danish it is mostly used as as broad term covering buildings for all farm animals instead of tagging these as for example ‘sty’ for pigs and ‘cowshed’ for cows.

We are now having the discussion (started by me) in the Danish subcategory on how the stable-tag is best used but I thought maybe someone from the rest of the forum has some insight to the issue. Is there a better tag than ‘stable’ to use for a building for farm animals when one does not know exactly which type of animal it is? Or is it best to continue using ‘stable’ for other uses despite what the wiki says? (But then what does one tag a stable that actually is used by horses).

Currently the OSM-translation (in iD Editor etc.) of ‘stable’ is ‘stald’ In Danish. We have another term, ‘hestestald’, for a stable only for horses while ‘stald’ is a broad term normally used when not specifying the animal. But if we were to start using the translation ‘hestestald’ to match the OSM-wiki description of the ‘stable’ tag more closely it would probably introduce a lot of mistakes in the existing OSM since people most likely previously have used the tag in the broad sense.

Hope I described the issue clearly and I that you have some input :slightly_smiling_face:


TL;DR: Yes, building=livestock (or building=farm_auxiliary for even more generic term, if it might also be a building=barn, for example).

In more detail:

Yes, building=stable is for horses, as building=cowshed is for cows, or building=sty for pigs, etc.

Note however that building=* is about architectural type of the building, and not about its use. See building:use=* for the use of the building (i.e. you could have building=barn which you use for amenity=parking, so it would be building:use=garage. Or, you could use your cowshed for pigs, so it would be building=cowshed + building:use=sty. Etc.)

Anyway, one should not abuse the documented meaning just because local language uses same word for different purposes. I.e. building=stable is a building that was built for horses.

That being said, there is more generic building=farm_auxiliary for all such not-for-living farm buildings or (not yet documented, but used) building=livestock which should be used for such more generic terms if one cannot be bothered to determine details.

Relatedly, see also Riding - OpenStreetMap Wiki for ideas that building=* (or even building:use) values are not most important things to map (indeed, they’d get ignored vast majority of times).

See “paddock box”, “Field shelter” and other tags for ideas of what the user might actually look for: if you want to park your car, you’ll not be looking for building:use=garage (much less for building=garage which is quite likely a building:use=shed today), but you’ll practically always look for amenity=parking instead.


Before we start typing in the wrong spelling, building=farm_auxillary is building=farm_auxiliary , the second l is an i

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Thanks, corrected. I miss {{Tag|key|value}} wiki functionality in Discourse forum that makes such typos trivial to spot and correct.

Not sure I understand what you are saying here? Would it be best to change the Danish translation to ‘hestestald’?

In the wiki for building=stable it does mention ‘used as’ several times so I think it’s understandable one might think it is.

I think the equivalent in English for stald (dk), stal (nl) and Stall (de) is (animal) stall, but it doesn’t seem to be very much used. It would make more sense for non-English speakers to use a tagging scheme like for instance building=livestock; livestock=horses instead of the specific words for buildings to keep specific animals that are typical for the English language. Such a scheme could easily be extended, for instance for zoo buildings (building=livestock livestock=elephants for the elephant house in a zoo). We’re already using it for sports pitches (leisure=pitch sport=tennis for a tennis court, etc.)


Italian: stalla as building where livestock is kept and you can guess where the Dutch/Danish/German word originates. Also locally ’ stazzo’ for horses, found half dozen here in the mountains with the identical horse shoe shape.

I prefer the direct naming of stable, sty and cowshed rather than the combo of livestock+. For poultry… grow out houses, really. Never knew and disappointed to not even finding a single hit in TagInfo.

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The German translation for “stable” in the wiki always has been “Pferdestall”, which means a stable for horses (Pferd = horse). In the iD presets it was changed from “Stall” to “Pferdestall” a year ago and no one complained. How could it make sense to use the same tag building=stable with a different meaning in Denmark? A proposal (draft) to use this tag for all kinds of animals was discussed in August and September 2019 and was not well received by the majority.

The wiki page for building=stable looks like

I agree that the short description in the ValueDescription box is confusing. I think it should be changed to

A building or part of a building that is a stable for horses


That is however because building:use=stable redirects to building=stable, so that same wiki page covers both tags. It could probably be improved, but one has to keep that detail in mind.

Yes, building=stable is a building for horses, so it should be translated as “hestestald”.
For generic variety, you can use building=livestock (or building=farm_auxiliary) instead.

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I agree fully. I have been a little hesitant to make the translation correction because it seems very likely that some Danish mappers have previously often used the stable-tag not reading the tag-description and realising that it is only meant for building used by or built for horses.

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Would it be best to change the Danish translation to ‘hestestald’?

IMHO yes, you found out it was wrong, why not correct it asap?

Italian: stalla as building where livestock is kept and you can guess where the Dutch/Danish/German word originates.

it’s the other way round, the Italian word stalla derives from the germanic stall.

Done! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Stall in EN-GB usually refers to the individual compartment of a stable (or other livestock building) for a single animal, other e.g. farrowing stall for pigs (although also often called pens or crates). Stable would definitely relate to horses rather than other livestock.

The principle useful places to use building=stable in the UK are as follows:

  • Stable blocks of large country houses (manor houses & castles in OSM speak). These also exist elsewhere. Apart from stabling for horses these also had carriage houses and other service facilities. They also provided accommodation for servants responsible for the horses and carriages. This is my local one.

  • Stables in farmyards devoted to horses (livery farms).

  • Modern stables, usually in corners of fields or close to a house, but not in farmyards. These are fairly recognisable buildings. Some typical adverts are here and here. Note that there is a whole detailed terminology in this field!

Where it is harder are for farm buildings from 18th & 19th centuries, often built in a courtyard. These would have had dedicated stabling, but it’s not obvious without a detailed look. Relatively few of these are used for farm purposes now, although 50 years ago they were still adequate. (Some of these farms were large, the one at Leighton in Powys is listed with the role of each part described.) There are also guides produced by heritage organisations, and often good examples at open air heritage museums.

Farm buildings in the last 50 years are nearly all utility modular industrial sheds whatever their actual use. These latter are sufficiently distinct to deserve their own building tag. I suspect most are actually mapped as building=barn or building=farm_auxiliary.

I think much of this applies to other European countries too, but does not offer an easy way to tag buildings for livestock in a generic way, as DE & DK would allow.


Rare cases where separate part of building but not a separate building qualifies then it would building:part=stable not building=stable

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I do not understand what you are criticizing or proposing. Would the following short description be better?

A building that is a stable for horses

The current photo of the page building=stable is also misleading, as it shows the interior (the use) of a stable. I suggest using this one instead:
(File:Horse stable - Middletown.jpg - Wikimedia Commons)

Is that ok?

used! Also some other changes to wiki at Tag:building=stable - OpenStreetMap Wiki and Tag:building:use=stable - OpenStreetMap Wiki

(note that in such case you can just edit wiki page)

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In which part of the German speaking world is “Stall” used for horses only? A lookup in wiki shows: “Stall” is used for ALL kinds of animals, if you want to specify use the animal name before, but in Kombination, no space. Eg Pferdestall, schweinestall, Saustall though has a double meaning, could be female pigs, but usually stands for a massive mess. For faster and easier talking the animal name is ommitted once everybody knows it. Of course, the danger exists, if someone only knows horses as animals he might think “Stall” is for horses only, but this is not correct.

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I don’t know, probably nowhere, Why is this interesting? If iyou are on German Stall – Wikipedia and switch to English, you don’t get to Stable - Wikipedia but to Animal stall - Wikipedia; see also above.

Your words: The German translation for “stable” in the wiki always has been “Pferdestall”, which means a stable for horses (Pferd = horse).