How big should a barn be?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by SkizzlePig, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. SkizzlePig

    SkizzlePig Well-Known Member

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    We're trying to budget and plan our future farm build out and we've run into yet another question we really want some wisdom on.

    We plan to have a maximum Dexter population of ten breeder cows, one bull and their offspring until they are ready to go to auction or the dinner table. We'd also like to be able to park a medium frame tractor in the barn. We plan to have a small hay loft. Any thoughts? Is this 40' x 40'? Or smaller?

    Another question, concrete floor or just dirt?
     
  2. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    Mine is about 40' x 80' and it's full. I could use a lot more space! It has "wings" and right now one wing has a tractor, hay trailer, stock trailer, an antique pickup, and a section to shelter the goats when they are in the pasture on that side of the barn. The other side has a section for the goats, an area with water lines coming in, and a section with lumber in it, there is also a space on that side to store a few cords of firewood. The center has sections with rabbit pens, storage bins, and lots of hay (I wish I had a loft for the hay) The back of this barn opens into an older barn that has 4 horse stalls, tack room, feed room, and a tool room. It's getting really crowded out there. At different times in the past few years I've used stalls for calves, goats, and enclosed one stall to use as a temporary chicken house until we got a permanent one built.

    My barn is dirt floors. I put down a huge tarp in the section where the hay is stored. The dirt has not been a problem and is probably better for the animals feet. Animals aren't naturally designed to stand on concrete. If you are going to have a milking room or milking area, you might want a concrete floor with a drain in that area.

    You always need more room than you think you will so my advice is to build it as big as possible, or at least design so it'll be easy to add on later.
     

  3. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They are NEVER BIG ENOUGH, nor can you have too many. I tend to build one in each pasture, with hay stored in each as well as stalls. I just build 3 sided shed roofed barns about 6 ft high at the back. Most are about 10 by 20 or 10 by 30. I buy up all of the used metal roofing and used plywood I can find - when I get enough I build another barn. I use used telephone poles for the uprights.
     
  4. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    "maximum Dexter population of ten breeder cows, one bull and their offspring until they are ready to go to auction"

    WOW that is ambitious - Dexters are pricey - I am about ready to spring for 2 horned red dexter cows (that are certified tested Bulldog gene free) and I will give $2200.00 each. If I want them guaranteed bred to a homozygous red polled, bulldog gene free bull (yes there is one close to me) add another 2 grand each.

    As for taking Dexter calves to the auction - they don't bring much - the hind quarters are somewhat more boney than buyers want and they are seldom advertised as Dexters, unless it is a specialty auction.
     
  5. PyroDon

    PyroDon Well-Known Member

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    figure out how big you think you will need then triple it
     
  6. travlnusa

    travlnusa Well-Known Member

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    And then add to that.

    I have NEVER heard anyone say "Boy, I sure wish my barn was smaller".

    Buy all you can. Also, build it where and how, you might choose to add on in the future.
     
  7. wilderness1989

    wilderness1989 Well-Known Member

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    Build as big a barn as you can afford....it will never be to big!!!! :nono:
     
  8. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I built mine 40'X45' and if it had been 4 times that big it would be full. We are thinking of building another, but larger this time.
     
  9. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Is this barn for beef cows to run in and to be housed while calving, or are you talking about building a parlor or some sort of tie stall/stanchion configuration for dairy cows?

    It sounds like you just want something for beef cows to run in, which could be a pole-shed with southern opening. If you build a two-story barn with hay mow, your materials cost in building that barn are going to go up exponentially. I milk in a 32' by 160' single-story dairy barn in which the cows face out, pipeline and tie stalls. We built this barn in 1949 out of home-sawed lumber and car-siding and it was 32' by 72' and was originally a loafing barn. We milked in a 6-stanchion parlor with Surge buckes. I lengthened the barn in 1971 and put in the tie stalls. 48 tie stalls with rubber mats and two materinty pens. Gutter cleaner empties into a manure pump. My commodity shed and feed room is off to the west side, as is the milk room. The long dimension of the barn is oriented N-S, and the cows exit out the south. I've got tube ventilation over the mangers and evaporators on the south walls plus four smaller exhaust/ventilation fans. I've got a 48" fan installed in the North end and another 48" fan portable for summer ventilation. Both the walls and ceiling are insulated.

    For my hay storage, I have two 40' by 65' polesheds with 18' height to the roof trusses. I have another 32' by 60' shed for straw. I have boardsides on these sheds (1" by 12") mostly, but some second hand steel sheet as well. I use all small square bales. I have to go outside to bring in the hay (It's twenty feet) and shovel snow in the winter, but this form of hay storage is much cheaper than an over-barn mow. I have a conveyor inside that runs the length of the roof trusses. That makes mowing in these sheds real easy.

    For building a dairy barn for Dexters, you've got to get your stall length correct or you'll be scraping ---- back in the gutters all day long, and think about whether you'll put in rubber mats or mattresses, your manger curb height, where you are going to put your drinking cups, type of stall, how much raise from the stall platform to your alleyways, where you are going to locate your milkroom, etc. I don't like barns where the cows face each other with a wide common manger. Sure, you drive in some of these and unroll a round bale, but you're always sweeping the hay and feed up to the cows and you've got to have either all your milk units on one side of the pipeline or run back and forth when milking.

    The worst part of my set-up is that when I get cottonseed or bulk protein delivered, the trucks have to drive through the cow lot (it's cement) to unload.

    If the barn is for beef cows, it's a much lower-cost proposition than for dairy cows.

    Pole sheds are relatively cheap to build compared to two-storey barns. It's cheaper to build long than wide, because those 50' trusses become much more expensive. In my experience, a longer narrower pole shed with more doors is better than a square pole shed where you're jockeying machinery to get it out. If you're storing hay in a square shed, you've got a longer carry from the door or the conveyor drop. I've done custom baling in my younger years and mowed hay in big round roof barns where we stuck the elevator in the mow door on one end and carried the hay the length of the barn. That gives you a good workout.
     
  10. mandyh

    mandyh Well-Known Member

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    build as big as you can afford and plan out the location for future add ons. :)
     
  11. WindowOrMirror

    WindowOrMirror ..where do YOU look? Supporter

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    A barn for how many what's intended for what purpose?

    a barn for 20 milking cows and one bull is a very different thing compared to a barn for 20 steers on their way into packages.

    Also, if it's gets cold or hot where you are, how much do you want to ventilate or heat? Must the cows themselves keep the place warm? If so, it must be approximately the right size at the outset.

    R
     
  12. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Beef cattle will remain heathier in just a shed type structure. If you are in an area where the temperature only drops to the teens you really do not need a barn for beef cattle. Dexters are supposed to be bred from Angus and should tolerate some cold if they are being raised just for meat.