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Description Of A Model Dairy Barn

( Originally Published 1912 )



The reader has doubtless observed, when riding through the country, groups of buildings which look more like a small village than a properly arranged plan of farm buildings in which to house cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry, and to store farm products and machinery. Has it ever occurred to you to question whether the arrangement and equipment of these buildings have proven satisfactory to the owner, in a measure proportionate to their cost?

It is safe to say that ninety per cent of the owners of such buildings' would change their plans, owing to the fact that they had experienced inconveniences, necessitating many unnecessary steps in the course of their daily duties in caring for the live stock on the farm.

Perhaps the first improvement suggesting itself to the mind of the live stock owner would be to convert a number of small unhandy buildings into one large, well-ventilated barn, insuring greater economy in construction and operation. The second thought would be the elimination of the foul, dark, dingy, disease-breeding basement, by providing an abundance of sunlight through numerous windows, and ample ventilation and good drainage.

Light and ventilation are as essential to the health of farm animals as they are to human beings. Every farmer should make such changes in his old buildings as will provide these necessities in abundance. By studying the detailed description of barn construction in this book, valuable suggestions along these lines may be obtained for the purpose.

While the writer was a boy on the farm, it was generally thought by the people in that locality that the barns were quite modern and up-to-date; but with the passing years improvements have been made in every line, and the plans of barns have also been greatly improved upon.

Having conducted a veterinary practice in Waukesha County for more than twenty years, and having visited many parts of the United States, the writer has had exceptional opportunities for observing the most practical methods of planning and building barns.

During the year 1911 the writer purchased a tract of land located on the interurban line between Waukesha and Milwaukee. This farm contained a number of farm buildings which were located on the north side of the place. The location of the electric line on the south side offered an inducement to shift the old buildings, but instead of moving these to a new location, they were left where they were and a space of land was measured off for new structures, which consisted of a dairy barn, a combined milk house and office, and a horse barn.

After plans and specifications had been carefully prepared, showing in detail the size, shape and cost of a new dairy barn, the first step taken was to drive a 180-foot well down into the rock, insuring a bountiful supply of pure, cold water. A convenient well is a great advantage in the erection of new farm buildings, for it saves hauling water during the course of their construction, and it will be conveniently useful for years in supplying live stock on the farm.

As the plans of the dairy barn provided for a wall of hard heads or granite boulders, the next move was to gather as many of these as possible on the farm. This is an excellent way of disposing of surplus stone.

Before the walls of the barn were laid, all necessary drains from milk house, wash room, cattle mangers, and gutters were put in place. One drain or sewer is connected with the conductor pipes to carry off the water from the roof of the barn, and also connected with the cow mangers to carry off clean surplus water, and is run to a paddock which is far enough from the barn to be used as a pig pasture. The water runs into a shallow drinking trough and in this manner the pigs are regularly watered without extra effort. The overflow runs into a wallowing vat, which is occasionally sprinkled with a disinfectant, thus keeping the animals free from parasites and insects, such as lice and flies.

A second drain is connected to the wash room, milk room, and gutters back of the cows, and carried to a low place suitable for sewerage, where it can be dried and purified by the rays of the sun, which is nature's germ destroyer. This drain is used for wash water from the stable floors and gutters when scrubbed out. The urine in these gutters is absorbed and used for fertilizing, and is not allowed to escape into the sewer. If preferred it may be run into a urine cistern and later used for fertilizing purposes.

The water pipes from the milk house to the cow barn, as well as the sewers, are placed deep enough into the ground to avoid freezing, so that water can flow from the milk house to the cattle mangers at all seasons of the year.

The milk house measures about 20 ft. by 25 ft., with a partition in the center; one half of this building is used as an office, and has a hard wood floor; the other half for a milk room with a cement floor and a cement water tank so situated as to have the well at one end of the tank. The milk room is equipped with a two horse power gasoline engine, a thirty candle power electric light dynamo, a switch-board and a cream separator.

The gasoline engine is connected to a shaft so that it can be used for pumping water, lighting the barn, and separating the cream at the same time, so that these three operations are performed at the approximate cost of one.

The cement tank is so arranged as to support an air tank for forcing water to all parts of the buildings, and also to cool the milk cans immediately after milking. In this manner the cold water cools the milk, and the warm milk warms the cold water, and after the milk is cooled the water can be let into the cow mangers for the cows to drink. In this manner each milking animal is enabled, to warm her own drinking water, which otherwise would necessitate artificial heat, at considerable expense and trouble, twice daily during the winter months.

The milk house contains a small hot water heater connected with the air tank or water system, and also with a radiator in the office for heating same. From this heater hot water can be obtained at all hours of the day or night for washing cans, preparing hot mashes for the stock, etc.

Now as to the plans of the barn itself. More thought and consideration should be given the plans of a barn than is usually given by the owner. Perhaps the first thing to consider is the expense incurred in building a barn. The owner should first make up his mind as to the amount of money he wishes to invest in a dairy barn, so that the plans may be drawn accordingly. The plans should provide for the convenient accommodation of a certain number of cows, calves, and the herd bull, arranged in two rows, extending the entire length of the barn, the larger part of each row being assigned to cows and heifers in stanchions, with the balance of the space designed for bull pens and calf stalls.

In this barn the cattle face out ; the calf pens and bull stalls come right in line with the single stalls so as to leave a driveway through the entire length of the barn. In this manner the litter can be removed from the gutters or box stalls by litter carrier or team. The feed for cattle can be carried on feed trucks and distributed from the side aisles which run in front of the cattle on either side of the barn.

With the cattle facing out, it is important to have the fresh air enter the stable near the ceiling and just in front of them, while the foul air is taken from the stable by four large, well built, wooden ventilators, two at either end, and close to the center driveway, built of two thicknesses of dressed and matched boards with paper between, in order to keep these air chutes as near the temperature of the barn as possible. If filled with frost or ice the foul air will not escape as readily. These run through the roof of the barn and a little above the ridge, and have no bends or curves in them, because every bend and curve lessens the capacity of the ventilator.

It is very important to figure the exact amount of ventilation required for a certain size stable, and it is an advantage to have surplus ventilation. For example: This barn requires ventilation to the amount of fifty thousand pounds of live stock, and is so constructed as to give a surplus, which is considered an advantage, as it is much easier to close the incoming and outgoing air chutes than it would be to open doors and windows to help out deficient ventilation.

If however, it is desired to face the cattle in, it is important to bring fresh air from the outside of the building, between the floor and ceiling, and have it empty just in front and above the cattle. The foul air should be taken out through four well built ventilators, one located at each corner of the barn.

Where the driveway is in the center, as in this building, it is important to arrange so that its surface is a very few inches above the level of the ground, and the gutters on either side of this driveway should be four inches deep next to it, and ten inches deep next to the cattle.

The platform on which the cattle stand measures in length 4 ft. 8 in. on one side of the barn, and 4 ft. 10 in. on the other, and the bottom of the manger is 2 inches higher than the floor on which the cattle stand. The feed alley in front of the cows is 6 inches higher than the bottom of the manger, or 14 inches higher than the middle driveway.

The entire floors, mangers and feed alleys are of cement, with the exception of the stall floors, which are of cork brick. This makes it practical to water all cattle in the stable without danger of rotting the mangers. By having the feed alley higher than the mangers, all leaves, or seed from hay. or roughage, can be swept into the mangers, but before watering the cattle the mangers should be swept out. In this way the entire barn is swept at least twice daily.

CAUTION: Be sure that all cement floors traveled by the live stock have a rough surface, so as to prevent animals from slipping.

The stone wall which comes up 3 ft. above the feed alley is built of hard heads and cemented smoothly on the inside, and is so constructed on the top surface as to support the entire weight of the barn.

There are boxed between the studding of the barn, at intervals of about 15 ft., fresh air ventilators, with registers at the bottom on the outside to serve as intakes, and at the top on the inside. These ventilators can be opened or closed according to weather conditions. The windows are double glazed, hinged at the bottom, and permitted to swing in at the top, being held by two short-non-rustible chains, to prevent them from tipping in too far.

The ceiling of the first floor is sheeted, which adds greatly to the appearance and warmth of the basement and also prevents dust and cobwebs from accumulating between the rafters. The hayloft floor is of matched fencing, so as to prevent dust and dirt from sifting through. The frame of the barn can be built in different styles, but the writer favors plank construction, or what is known as balloon frame, and this barn is so constructed, leaving a large, roomy hayloft, lighted by two large windows on either side by day, and electric lights by night. There are large rolling doors at one end, where hay and roughage can be taken in. This portion of the barn is equipped with a hay carrier and fork, making it easy to fill the barn through the end doors. This does away with what is commonly known as the barn floor driveway, which is an advantage in some people's estimation, and looks like a disadvantage to others.

The walls of the second floor are composed of shiplap lumber and the roof is covered with high grade cedar shingles.

Connected with this barn .are two silos, measuring 16 ft. by 35 ft., thus making it possible to preserve ensilage for both summer and winter feeding. These silos are built of brick with a thick coating of cement on the inside, and covered with a shingle roof. The silos are placed far enough from the main barn so as to leave space for feed rooms, both on first and second floors, which connect these silos with the barn. This is found to be an advantage, and also adds to the appearance of the barn.

The barn is equipped with galvanized eave troughs and conductors, to carry the rain water into the drains, which arrangement prevents the water from soaking into the ground around it, as this is liable to cause a muddy condition when stock are permitted to walk through it.

The writer is a firm believer in the protection of buildings from electrical storms by having them properly rodded with the only known protection, namely, lightning rods. There is a vast difference in the manner of rodding buildings, and for the benefit of those interested he will say, not only is this barn itself well rodded, but also the silos. Branch wires connect all hay carriers, litter carriers and silo door frames of iron or steel; in fact, anything that is of a conducting nature is connected with lightning rods, so that if struck by lightning, the electric current can be conveyed to the ground.

Perhaps the most important part of the entire barn to consider is the first floor furnishings. Too much thought and careful consideration cannot be given to the selection and installing of equipments, which should consist of either galvanized piping, or metal painted pipes, so constructed as to form a partition between the animals. By this method of stabling the danger of cows stepping on one another's teats and udders can be avoided.

Swing stanchions have been installed, so that a cow can swing her head around and lick herself at her comfort and ease. The mangers are equipped with steel partitions, so that in feeding, cattle will not consume more than the amount intended for them, and this will also prevent them from reaching the next cow's feed. In doing this they are very apt to slip and fall on their knees, causing what is commonly known as big knees in cattle.

The metal mangers are weighted so as to swing upward, permitting the attendants to sweep out more conveniently before watering the cattle.

The bull stalls are built of 1/ in. painted iron pipes, equipped with stanchion, feed box, and watering bowl. These stalls drain to the gutters that extend back of the cows.

The calf pens are so constructed as to accommodate about four calves in each. Each pen is equipped with a set of small stanchions and partitioned mangers, so that when feeding, calves can be tied in these and left for at least one half hour after they are through drinking milk, which prevents them from sucking one anothers ears, etc. This also enables the calf to get the amount of grain or milk intended for it, instead of being crowded by a larger calf, which is liable to get more than its share. One condition is just as bad as the other, namely, overfeeding or underfeeding.

All stalls have an iron bracket just over the stanchion of each animal, where the name and number of every animal, printed on a cardboard, is slipped into an opening at the end of such a device. In this manner the attendant soon becomes familiar with the name and number of each animal. Every animal has an ear tag number, which number appears on the cardboard above mentioned.

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