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I searched for your post to see if you got any answers. I think it came up at an active time and went out the bottom of active topics quickly.

I don't use a building but have certainly considered it. Especially after the winter of 2014. Only cows in the prime of their life are fit to live in some of these conditions with only natural or artificial wind protection.

There is a farm that I admired in ND that had cows in three buildings at the yard. I believe one was a steel arch rib, one was a wooden arch rafter and the other a bio shelter, all were on short walls. They were most likely fed outside if the weather was decent.

Sometimes in the north I think we get carried away with clear span buildings. I often admire some of the post frame buildings more common in the east central USA. They use an inexpensive medium span truss rafter for the centre and also appropriate sized lean to roofs on each side mounted on post frame enclosures. Sometimes the side roofs are a few feet lower for windows or ventilation. It's kind of a classic old design.

Personally, I never liked working in a barn, I'd rather be in a pickup truck or a tractor but I definitely understand why you want one. I also think the profitability in cattle is shifting back to the more intensive management style after a decade of the opposite.


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I remember several years ago being a at a meeting where a guy from the Midwest had barn design and management program for 365 day confined feeding - basically his theory was that rate of gain was way better in the sheltered buildings and they took up way less space than a feedlot, but I think his designs were just cover all buildings..... Seemed kind of nutty at the time but was definitely a way to try and improve feed efficiency. Sorry I can't remember the name maybe someone else out there does?
 

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I guess what you save on feed and death loss from cold at calving and even predation maybe. Northern Europe I think this is the way they winter cows. Looks too much like a pig barn and I hate cleaning barns.
 

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We have cattle in 3 different barns, of those only one can be totally closed off from the outside but we still have pens on the north and south sides so they can go outside when they want. The other two are open on the south side, one is a pole shed and the other something in between the two. All barns have some space outside for the cattle. In the summer the cows go on pasture so about half the 3rd barn ends up being just for shade and where the water is.

I think its good for them if they can go outside when the weather is nice, keeps them healthy.
 

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We have cattle in 3 different barns, of those only one can be totally closed off from the outside but we still have pens on the north and south sides so they can go outside when they want. The other two are open on the south side, one is a pole shed and the other something in between the two. All barns have some space outside for the cattle. In the summer the cows go on pasture so about half the 3rd barn ends up being just for shade and where the water is.

I think its good for them if they can go outside when the weather is nice, keeps them healthy.
What is the feed savings? This is a really interesting concept. We are in probably a colder climate albeit dryer one. Our cows run out all winter, are fed around 40 lbs of hay and cereal green feed and pick snow for water. In the early winter we swath graze some as well. Our savings comes from saving on yardage and feed making and hauling. I bet we use a lot more feed you. I can see how this would justify in a cold wet winter and where land costs are really high. Really interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I got thinking more about the idea the beginning of December, was fairly warm here and noticed a big drop in hay use , we lost a calf to the cold last year, we still haul manure, and figure that we'd use less straw, and if hay could be stored under some of it too it'd be a win win , I know if calf prices drop back to $500, itay be hard to justify , but if the extra earned from the higher price can pay off the investment, the $500 calves would be cheaper to raise?
 

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What is the feed savings?
Not sure, haven't done it any other way but I would imagine it saves a lot in the long haul during a colder than normal winter. The wetter climate we have almost requires some form of shelter, as we can get rains in the fall (and early spring) that turn to freezing rain, sleet, and then snow. Not uncommon to have a big temp drop that night and then it won't warm up for a couple days. In that case a cold, soaked cow = sick cow, if it wasn't used to the cold. They can come inside or go out if they want, the cows do get a field of corn stalks we fence off to munch on during the winter.
 
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