Bob was working cattle for a client one day and came home with these photos. He was so happy to be in a comfortable climate while pounding calves through the chute. Some days he's hours in a cold wind.
He told me I needed to write a story about Gary Thompson's new barn. So here it is:
High winds and heavy snow are on the way, but Gary Thompson of Liberty Center, Iowa, is not worried about how he’s going to feed his stocker cattle in a blizzard.
“During the last snow storm, they never missed a beat,” he says. Thompson finished construction on a hoop barn last November that can hold 320 head of stocker calves in a deep bedding system.
The barn is 44 feet wide and 368 feet long. It was designed by Hoop Beef Systems (hoopbeef.com) and built by local contractors.
Thompson says he had been researching a switch to the hoop barn system for six years. A muddy spring finally tipped him over the edge.
“I’m old and tired and didn’t like chasing cattle all over,” he said, only partially joking.
The new barn has two 80-head pens and four 40-head pens, plus 48 feet on the west end for a working facility. The layout allows him to size and sort calves better.
“We built it for efficiency,” says Thompson. “Cattle gain more efficiently and grow faster.” His calves added about 4 pounds a day in January. “They were smoking, gaining like crazy.”
The temperature in the barn is not a lot different than outside, he says, but “there is no wind, and it’s dry. Cold is not the issue with cattle – it is wet and wind.”
In the hot days of summer, air rises off the cattle and out the top of the barn. There is a curtain along the north side.
For 70% of the year there is no difference between the performance of his outdoor cattle and those in the barn, says Thompson, “But for 30% of the days there is a huge difference.”
He’s looking at one of those days heading his way this week.
Hoop Beef System
8 Anderson St
Vermillion, SD, 57069
Gary Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org
The photo below was taken by Jon Beck.