Expert Insights

Top Tips for Building a Better Barn

When building a facility on your dairy farm, we always start with the design process and ask questions that consider the health and comfort of the herd. What will make the herd more comfortable? What layout works best for the space allocated? How can I make the most of the budget at hand? Henry Collins, the Asia-Pacific Sales Manager for VES-Artex, asks, “If you walk into the barn and you don't feel comfortable, would your cows feel comfortable?” With this in mind, it’s essential to start designing your barn with your herd’s comfort and ease in mind. The goal is to build a barn you’re happy going into because if you’re comfortable, they’re more likely comfortable too.

While there are endless possibilities for enhancing your barn, financial constraints usually limit what can be done in one shot. So, we’ve put together our top tips when building a better barn for your herd.

Design with the Herd in Mind

With several barn types to consider for cow comfort, ventilation, and cooling strategies, sometimes it isn’t easy to pinpoint the best option for one farm. Here are a few essential things to remember when designing your barn with your herd in mind:

  • Temperature and humidity
  • Barn orientation
  • Wind direction
  • Target herd population to space available

What are the barn types for ventilation strategy?

  • Natural ventilated barns
  • Tunnel barns
  • Hybrid tunnel barns
  • Neutral pressure barns
  • Cross-ventilated barns

Ideally, the barn orientation should go east to west for naturally ventilated barns. This way, the sun won’t reach the beds, and the barns stay cooler, enabling the cows to utilize all the beds.

What are the barn types for cow comfort strategy?

  • Compost barns
  • Freestall barns

Collins says, “A compost barn is cheaper to build, but it has a higher cost of equipment for ventilation and a higher running cost per cow.” He suggests that compost barns should always consider future conversions to freestall for that reason.

Design with Budget in Mind

The following two tips go hand-in-hand with each other: designing with a budget in mind and designing with expansion in mind reflect one another in a matter of finances. Always remember that overstressing your farm’s financial situation will harm your business more than benefit. For that reason, Collins suggests building your facility in phases. 

Building your facility in phases allows you to allocate where your money is best spent over time while continuing to grow and scale your farm.

Design with Expansion in Mind

Since building a better barn can get costly very quickly, Collins suggests always designing your facility with expansion in mind. He says, “If you’re going to build a facility, always keep in mind about building future facilities…not so much for yourself, but for future generations.” Producers can sustain manageable growth as your herd and business thrive.

Building a better barn is expensive and stressful with all the options available today. Here at VES-Artex, we take pride in assisting dairy producers in coming up with the best solutions to keep their herds comfortable and healthy while maintaining a financial strategy to prevent unnecessary stress on your farm. Contact a VES-Artex dealer that’s local to you to start your design process. Remember, when building a facility on your farm, always design with cow comfort, budget, and expansion in mind! You can learn more on the topic from out latest webinar.

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