Storage Units Every Farm Should Invest In

Quonset farm feed storage building

Whether you're new to farming or are a veteran in the agricultural community, the idea of storage for your farm has no doubt crossed your mind. Even though you may live in a region with mild weather it's important to provide shelter for your machinery, livestock and produce. Nowadays, the vast majority of farm storage buildings are made from steel barn kits. Steel has a very high strength to weight ratio enabling it to withstand even the harshest conditions, and is also economically more efficient than lumber, costing on average 35 to 45 percent less than a building constructed out of lumber.

So what type of storage units will you need on your farm? The three most popular, and overall beneficial storage buildings on a farm are machine storage units, livestock storage units, and storage units for hay and other produce.

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Steel Storage Buildings for Farm Equipment

While most farm equipment can be stored out in the fields, the benefits to provide proper shelter for your machinery is astronomical. Protecting your machines from rain, snow and excessive heat, as well interference from animals and other people can drastically increase your machinery's lifespan. In a survey published by Farm Building News, it was discovered that farm equipment which was stored under cover had a much greater trade-in value than equipment that was stored outdoors. On average owners of the machinery stored in doors saved 3 percent of the vehicles initial cost annually.

Considerations: When planning to build a storage unit for your farm equipment there are several considerations you should take into account. Put some thought into where on your land you would like your building situated. It may be beneficial to build your machinery storage unit near to both your living structure and the farm shop. This will make machines easily accessible, and make early morning and evening trips back home more convenient; however, be mindful of noise control when building your structure near your home and make sure the loud sounds from machinery will not disturb your household. Easy accessibility to the farm shop will also make equipment repairs more easy. Also consider the safety of your machinery. Correct placement and construction of your storage building can help reduce the chances of theft or outside tampering with your machinery. Structures that are within the sightline of you home will allow you to keep an eye on your building, and the proximity has also shown to discourage thieves. Also look into the types of locks you can place on your building's windows and doors. Choose sturdy, tamper-proof locks for all entrances and and exits into the building.

Spacing: Planning for equipment storage may be more intensive than it sounds at first, not only must you consider the space needed to store the actual equipment but you must also consider the additional space and entrances needed to maneuver equipment once it is inside. One of the best rules of thumb is to calculate the floor space needed to store equipment (accounting for fold out parts when appropriate) and multiply this number by 1.5. When considering the height of your building you should start with a 14 foot minimum and add on for any additional space needed based upon the height of your equipment and desired storage space. When dictating door height allow all machines to clear your door by at least 2 feet, and provide 1 foot of clearance on each side. Also be sure to account for space needed to maneuver once equipment once inside. Provide aisles for equipment to be moved in and out of the shelter without disturbing other machines.

Steel Storage Buildings for Livestock

Hay Barn with loafing shed, farm steel building

When raising livestock it's important to provide your animals with the proper shelter and sleeping arrangements. However, it's also important not to confine your animals in a tight space. When building a barn to house livestock be sure to account for the appropriate dimensions to prevent the spread of disease, and undesirable behavior.

Considerations: The most important factor to consider when building a barn for your animals is ventilation. Ventilation is necessary to provide animals with proper breathing air as well maintaining a desirable temperature. When considering temperature control opt for heating and cooling systems instead of simply incorporating windows as direct drafts can cause sickness in farm animals. The placement of ventilation systems is also important, in a heated and insulted barn ventilation ducts must be placed on the ceiling to prevent the build up of ice on the roof of the building.

Spacing: When planning your animal shelter's layout, or the layout of your horse barn, it is critical that you allow enough room for all your animals. Cramped quarters increase sickness among the animals, and also encourage aggressive behavior. The amount of room needed inside your barn will depend upon the animals you plan to house, design of interior structures and any desired amenities pertaining to your livestock. If housing horses a single box stall can require anywhere from 9' by 9' for a pony, to 15' by 15' for a stallion. Pigs can require anywhere from 3 square feet to 8 square feet of room depending upon their weight. Do your research, find out how much space you need to make your animals comfortable while also accounting for the addition of new animals in future. When planning for livestock it is better to have too much room than not enough so don't be hesitant to round measurements up.

Steel Storage Buildings for Hay

Hay is one of the most fundamental necessities on any farm; it's essential to most farms' livelihood. The way in which hay is stored has a direct impact on the amount of dry matter losses. While it's inevitable that there will be some loss in hay, the proper storage system can greatly reduce the amount of hay lost each year.

Agricultural storage building for grain and animal feed

Considerations: The rate of deterioration in hay depends upon the amount of moisture that gets into the hay barrels. Warm, moist conditions cause mold to grow amongst the hay and eat away at the nutrients in the grain. Keeping hay as dry as possible is the key to increasing its longevity, but as proper storage space must also follow all safety guidelines are extremely dry hay is a much greater fire hazard. Consider the type of floor your building will have and how it will protect your hay. If possible, farm experts recommend elevating the structure and surrounding your building with downward sloping land with a downgrade of at least 5 percent. A floor made only of gravel will also retain moisture. Some farmers opt for concrete floors, however these can be expensive and still don't allow water to properly drain. One of the best options is to layer a sheet of filter fabric over compact gravel. This filter layer will allow water to completely drain away from hay, but keeps gravel in place and sturdy.

Spacing: When planning floor area for your hay storage unit, consider how hay will be stored; will it be stored in round or rectangular bales? While rectangular bales may be easier to stack they also allow more moisture to seep into the bundle. Consider  storing hay in round bales, stood up on their flat end for maximum ease of stacking. Also consider the amount of space needed for loading equipment to bring hay in and out of the structure.

Author: Conrad Mackie