Current and future wants and needs should be addressed before breaking ground on a facility

With so many options of barns out there for the many different types of livestock it is important to know what kind of facilities are a need for a profitable venture; especially if starting from the ground up.

A good starting point is to know what you should consider before building.

Natural Resource Engineer with the University of Missouri Extension Robert Schultheis said it’s crucial to decide what plans are for now for the operation, and what goals are 10 or 20 years down the road.

Producers should ask themselves if the facility, house both feed and livestock? Is there room for growth? Producers should decide if they will be using the structure to store equipment and if it will also double as a shop. All of this should be considered before the building of the facility.

Schultheis recommends acquiring an aerial map of the property first. Be sure to draft plans account for the topography of the land in relation to the possible water hazards that it might have, such as flood threats or even lack of water. Strategic placement of gates and access, as well as livestock and machinery movement, can also be plotted out during this process.

Producers are also encouraged to make sure they have unfettered travel ways to help with flow, as well as save time. From this vantage point, the placement of fencing can be considered as well. An aerial view will provide a good chance for producers to plan future pasture rotation for the incoming livestock.

Obviously, the type of livestock must be considered.

For those producers who are planning on raising goats, it’s important to remember that goats are less tolerant of wet and cold conditions than cattle and sheep. It’s wise to build them a dry place out of the wind to seek shelter. A kidding, lambing or calving area should be considered during the initial planning stage before the actual build.

For dairy producers, cow comfort is a concern. Before building a free stall facility, producers should consider if each cow will have enough space to roam and lay down with ease, and take into consideration if the number of cows housed in the facility will increase as more animals freshen or if they choose to expand their milking herd.

Dairy producers might want to consider a compost bedded or a pack barn. According to Schultheis, a compost barn offers a good alternative to the traditional free-stall barn, and the bedding can be removed and used as a natural fertilizer.

Many producers prefer to have their work facilities inside of their livestock structure, which is a great idea as long as there is room.

Covered or inclosed working facilities are something that should be designed during the initial planning stage. Producers are cautioned to make sure the facility is well lit to prevent the balking of animals going through the system, which also makes it safer for the producers.

Be sure before investing in a facility that livestock and producer needs are addressed.

The right and wrong choices made in the design portion of the project will certainly impact the payoff, or lack thereof, in the long run.


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