This is what our barn will look like once it is built

We are in the process of building a modern cattle confinement buidling.  It is called a hoop barn, basically because it looks like a big hoop coming out of the ground.  There are many advantages and few disadvantages to keeping cattle in a structure like this.

Cattle hanging out inside a hoop building

Over the past few years we have been slowly growing the number of cattle we fatten.  We have run out of places to put them, and are feeling the need to continue to expand and modernize our beef farm.  Late last year the idea began getting kicked around, and we decided that we should get serious about doing something.

This is the site for the new barn. It will replace an old-style barn that we had no use for, which burned down this past fall.

Online research, phone conversations, magazine articles, visits to other farms, and consultation with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers were all a part of our decision making process.  After considering our options early this spring, we decided to build an Accu-Steel building.

The end of a hoop barn. Door can be lowered during inclimate weather, to protect the cattle.

The barn will house 400 cattle.  All contained under one roof, but in two different groups.  This is a good thing for manure management.  Regulations on animal manure nutrients have been getting increasingly tougher, and we wanted to plan for that.  Keeping the animals contained keeps their manure contained as well.  It keeps them dry in wet weather, sheltered from the wind, and shaded from the sun.  All things that make for happier calves, and happy calves means better feed efficiency (takes less feed to make a pound of beef).

A view of the feed bunk that runs along the side of the barn. The roof extends over the feed to keep it dry and palatable to the cattle in any weather.

Some of the potential disadvantages of having cattle in a hoop barn will be the learning curve we will have to go through.  Currently all of our cattle are in open lots, which means the hoop will be a whole new form of management for us.  We will have to learn how to best handle the manure and bedding for the cattle.  Decisions have to be made on how the cattle will be monitored for health conditions and sorted.  The logistics of loading and unloading the cattle will have to be figured out.  All things we currently do, but will be done slightly differently in a hoop barn.

Another shot of the location being leveled for the building. Surprisingly, it should be up and ready for cattle within 2 months.

It’s also a big investment for us.  It will take 10 years to pay for.  That means we must be committed to feeding cattle for at least that long.  That isn’t going to be a problem, if the past is any indicator of the future in this family.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress.  Building this barn is just another exciting journey in the life of this Iowa farm wife.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wayne Nieman on June 6, 2010 at 4:26 am


    It is good to know that the old barn is going to be replaced by a modern structure that will be much more useful. Well done!


  2. Posted by Zach on June 7, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Great post, Liz! Clearly a lot of thought goes into the decisions you make to care for your livestock.

    Zach B.

  3. My mom has a really similar recipe for chicken enchiladas – this is a great recipe because you get quite a few servings and is an awesome “make-ahead” meal!

  4. […] and disadvantages.  Here are a couple links to videos of us filling our new bunker silo at the new hoop barn site.  If you have little boys who like to watch tractors, they will love these quick clips (ok, […]

  5. Posted by Caryl Velisek on February 11, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Guess I’ve been ejected. Just wanted to let you know I’m sorry for getting personal. I get so frustrated by the lack of knowledge out there sometimes, and have been bombarded with so much false info that is circulating lately, in the media, from people I meet, etc., I lost my cool. It’s especially frustrating when people have their minds made up ahead of time and won’t listen to anything else. Again, I apologize. I enjoyed the discussion and wish you success in your efforts to tell ag’s story. I will continue with my efforts as always.

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