Hoop barn for cattle
Stressful conditions such as extreme heat and cold, wet weather can have a negative impact on cattle performance. Hoop barns are becoming a popular, animal-friendly environment with several advantages.
Brent Bryant is the managing director of a company called Hoop Beef System. He says the barn floor is generally made of compacted soil, crushed limestone, or concrete. The walls are made of wood and concrete. The hoop frame is constructed out of steel, and is covered with poly fabric. The sides are open, but a tarp can be raised or lowered. Inside are gates, waterers, feed bunks, and a deep bedding pack to keep the animals dry and snug.
"We're going to bed a couple times a week, we're going to scrape the alleyway a couple times a week," says Bryant. "We're going to segregate those cows as they calve so the cows with calves are in one group, the cows that don't have calves are in another. And beyond that, there's a couple of different options that producers can do to taylor-fit it to their needs and what they have as resources on their farm."
Bryant says you can bring the cows in off of grass in the fall, keep them in the barn over the winter, calve them out, and get them ready to go back to grass in the spring. Or, you could have them under roof year-round. Arrange gates to segregate the animals by age and body condition score so you can easily keep track of their development.
The barn is ventilated, but there is no wind and it's dry -- which makes a huge difference in cattle health.
"That animal's never going to have weather stress on it, whether it's the cow or the calf," says Bryant. "We're going to keep that calf healthy, we're going to keep that cow healthy. When an animal's not stressed and we're not out in those external stressors, it allows that animal's natural immunity to kick in and do a great job of keeping it healthy."
Bryant says the cost of a hoop system is about $1,000-$1,200-per-cow-space, depending on the system you choose and how it's designed.
The Leopold Center at Iowa State University has published research on bedded hoop barns for cattle
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