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Why does the barn have no walls?

 
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What is the structure they build on cow dairy farms where it looks like a really tall barn, only there aren't any walls on the ground floor?  But the top bit looks just like the top story of a barn.

 
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Hay storage shed, usually.

Or sometimes a shed for storing large farm equipment.
 
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Never heard of this, do you have pictures/
 
r ranson
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funny you should ask.  I was going to get one next week, but then I thought "I wonder if it's on google earth" and it is.

I've seen variations on this from time to time, but it's not very common around here.  The cows are never in it and nothing seems to be stored in it.  It seems to be special to cow dairy farms.  

There also doesn't seem to be an obvious way to the upstairs.  But there is a door on the top level as if something goes up there.  Hay conveyer?  Grain?  Something else?  
what-does-this-dairy-barn-do-.jpg
what does this dairy barn do?
what does this dairy barn do?
from-a-different-angle-you-can-see-the-other-part-of-the-wallless-barn.jpg
from a different angle you can see the other part of the wallless barn
from a different angle you can see the other part of the wallless barn
 
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I have driven through every state in the lower 48 and have never seen anything like it.
 
r ranson
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The first time I saw one was a news story for one of those huge dairy farms with auto hookups for milking and production tracking.   1 farmer was needed to milk hundreds of cows because everything was so automated.

I've seen them driving by farms since. But in these parts the building is way smaller like the picture.   We don't tend to have big cattle farms here, probably 50 to 100 adult cows and the calfs and the boys.  

I always wanted to know what it was for and suddenly, others were asking too, so I thought I would ask here.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Hm! I haven't seen that design before.

The hay sheds I know are just pole sheds with a roof. Sometimes there are walls on one or two sides, where the winter winds would blow in snow.
 
r ranson
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There are other buildings that look better suited for hay.  Ones where the human can get in without having to climb a ladder.

Also, this wouldn't hold a weeks worth of hay for that many cows.

Maybe equipment?
 
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In certain localities (eastern Tennessee in particular is the one I'm aware of), structures were taxed on their footprint, so the cantilever barn was born. Large hayloft (which is what that door is for), storage space on the ground floor for tools, large overhang to keep animals dry, but teeensy little taxable footprint.

Not sure if that's the same intention of this particular barn, but it has precedent...
 
r ranson
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Interesting.

Not sure it's a tax thing here.  These have massive cement foundation.  More than I would expect for a normal barn.  As if heavy machinery goes under it?  Or a big dairy tanker?  
 
r ranson
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perhaps there is a clue here? https://www.facebook.com/mcdonaldfarmsltd/
This is one of the farms I'm thinking of but FB has a login wall, so I can't see if there's anything about the barn there.
 
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r ranson wrote:perhaps there is a clue here? https://www.facebook.com/mcdonaldfarmsltd/
This is one of the farms I'm thinking of but FB has a login wall, so I can't see if there's anything about the barn there.



Only that they appear to be a beef farm not a dairy farm - FB page gives some info about their beef products, but no mention of milk or other dairy. No pictures of the barn either.

I can only assume that if it isn't a tax thing, then maybe they are short of indoor space and have used dead space for accomodation above an open storage area. Is there an enclosed stairwell at one corner in one of the photos? In our wet climate here indoor space is precious - although I wouldn't like an overhang like that in our winds!
 
r ranson
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interesting, I thought they did dairy too.   Although, since they aren't allowed to sell milk direct to the public, they might be milking under contract and keeping their FB page for the things they farmgate.

If it  was just one farm, it wouldn't be such a mystery.  But several with this type of building and it seems to be a localized thing?  
 
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I took the direct approach. I sent them an email.
 
r ranson
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John F Dean wrote:I took the direct approach. I sent them an email.



You are a wonderful person.  

I was going to do this if I couldn't get an answer... or so I tell myself.  But I also have over 4k unread emails in my inbox (from this year alone - I got fed up and deleted almost everything before Jan) so I'm getting massive anxiety at the thought of sending an email.  

I can't wait to hear what it's for.  
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Farmers have a uniquely dry sense of humour. Maybe they built it just to mess with people's heads.
 
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John F Dean wrote:I took the direct approach. I sent them an email.


Hahaha...so did I. It would be hilarious if eight of us did that out of the blue within a day or two.
 
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As Nick mentions above.maybe something derived from this style?
Cantilevered barns...
https://www.visitmysmokies.com/blog/smoky-mountains/history-cantilever-barn-cades-cove/

https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/cantilever-barns/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crib_barn

https://www.thesouthernhighlander.org/cantilever-barns






20240528_055333.gif
[Thumbnail for 20240528_055333.gif]
 
John F Dean
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My email did not get a reply.
 
r ranson
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John F Dean wrote:My email did not get a reply.



I've only just finished my morning chores and we're in the same timezone.  Got about half an hour to check my mails and have breakfast before going back to farm work.  It's almost 2pm here.  
 
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r ranson wrote:What is the structure they build on cow dairy farms where it looks like a really tall barn, only there aren't any walls on the ground floor?  But the top bit looks just like the top story of a barn.



No walls? I must assume there are poles to hold the roof up. Without any wall, it looks like a sail in case of strong winds?
Here are some examples. Do you see your structure here?
https://ag.umass.edu/crops-dairy-livestock-equine/fact-sheets/small-scale-dairy-calf-cattle-housing#:~:text=Milking%20cattle%20may%20be%20housed,%2C%20or%20bedded%2Dpack%20barns.
Dairy cows in an enclosed building create a great deal of heat... but in -20F- -30 F and windy, this cannot be comfortable for the cows or the farmer..
 
r ranson
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Have a look at the pictures above for what "no walls" means.  

I've never seen cows in these buildings.  They are usually somewhat separate from where the cows spend most of their time.  
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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r ranson wrote:Have a look at the pictures above for what "no walls" means.  

I've never seen cows in these buildings.  They are usually somewhat separate from where the cows spend most of their time.  




Thanks. Where I live, Central Wisconsin, is called "Dairy Land". Yet I have never seen such a building around here. It seems that even though there are no *outside* walls, there is a building that seems to be otherwise 'enclosed'. In a high winds situation, the roof part would have to be really well anchored... I would want to build such a building if I wanted to shelter cows while still allowing them to be "outdoors". In this case, there would be no need for a winter "manure lagoon", which causes us so many troubles here: [We have extremely sandy soil, so manure goes straight down to the water table!].
Our winters tend to be long and cold, so cows [and we tend to have large herds] have to 'live in' the barn for extended periods of time. Perhaps that's why we don't have any such buildings here. Some of the larger farming operations [CAFOS] never let their cows out for the convenience of being able to milk them twice a day. It is a miserable life for dairy cows, and the life expectancy is low.
Cows can be sheltered from the rain and the worst of a cold wind by going to the leeward side of the building with such a large overhang. They could even get fed  outside *through* the building: Drop the feed from the top floor and serve it in a trough along the outside wall. that's a pretty ingenious building, actually. Keeping their behinds outside while feeding the head also limits the fly population somewhat, as well as the odors.
Notice that there cannot be that many cows in such a herd, as the enclosed part/ [milking parlor, I presume], is rather small. The second floor would allow for a good amount of hay, maybe grains/ harvest to be stored, relative to the size of the herd.
The pictures really help, R.
 
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Quotes from https://www.visitmysmokies.com/blog/smoky-mountains/history-cantilever-barn-cades-cove/  as to 'why'...

Typically, a cantilever barn has two log cribs that support the overhang with an empty space between the cribs, which is where livestock would be fed. The loft of the barn was used for storing hay or other crops, and the overhang was used for storing equipment and a place where animals could stay dry during rainy weather.  



 They were typically found in the southeastern United States, but Sevier and Blount Counties in Tennessee have the most cantilever barns in the entire world. There are about 183 cantilever barns in Sevier County. These barns were ideal for farmers in the area because of their unique shape. It was easy to drive carriages under the barn through the cribs to unload hay or feed livestock. Since eastern Tennessee has heavy rainfall, livestock could stay under the overhang of the barn, and crops stayed dry on the second level. There’s also a rumor that the government back in the day taxed based on the square footage of a structure touching the ground. Since the cantilever barns only touched the ground with the cribs, taxes would have been significantly reduced!  



It seems like there were plenty of practical and functional reasons for this type of barn in the past in the southern US.

Can't wait to hear the actual use of the Canadian one
 
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I've been told that barns that look like that are for dairy cows. The catch is that we have a very strong Milk Marketing Board, so if you can't afford to buy "quota", you can't sell milk. You also can't process the milk into things like cheese for sale without jumping through huge hoops that make it difficult to start small and build.

In other words, the barn in the picture likely retired their dairy cattle and went into the beef industry because it is easier to do on a small scale. It's hard to "sell" a unique barn compared to selling off their milk cows! This sort of thing is happening more often as our senior farmers choose or are forced into retirement due to age, and the next generation can't afford to farm.
 
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I was also thinking it sure looked like a repurpose sort of situation. The second picture looks like they are doing something to extend it on the right side.
I also wonder, you're in a place where it rains a bit, maybe the bottom needed replacing (i'm thinking of a barn that would match the top of the structure, with large wooden hanging slide doors) and they just decided to take it off and put it up on pilings so that they could store their tractors inside or something. Roofs are expensive and if you have one that still works, why reinvent the wheel.
 
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Ok, just looked closer at the pics.  That "roof" looks fancier than any working barn I've ever seen.  And brand spanking new.  And the posts around the perimeter look kind of temporary to me.  My guess is that they're building a barndominium or barn house of some sort.  I'm not sure what the cement parts are, maybe internal structures to keep it from blowing over while they build the walls.  And a climbing wall, storm shelter, safe room, stairwell, etc once it's finished.  Maybe the walls will be straw bale or something time consuming so they put the roof on first to have protection while they work.

Just a guess....
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Guesthouse perhaps? Attic for a crazy family member?

Poke in the eye of a petty municipal planning department bureaucrat (a.k.a. tinpot dictator)?

It's a perfectly practical design for a tsunami zone. You'll see these in Japan.

I remember a restaurant/bar in Kauai on stilts, to catch the cool ocean breezes. Brilliant!
 
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One explanation I heard as a kid was that it's where the milking equipment gets housed and somehow related to that, it needs to be tall enough for the tall tanker trucks to get underneath.  

The person who told it to me wasn't related to farming in any way so it might not be true.  

But it does seem the right height for the huge milk tankers to get under.
 
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I drive by there about once a week and from that and looking on google earth, there seems to be plenty of barns for the livestock and for feed (hay and grain).  This barn doesn't seem to be fenced in fully, so livestock in that area would risk escaping.  But it is hard to see all the fences and pay attention to traffic.

And again, there is no easy way up to the upper story than can be seen from the road.  

And yet, it has an addition to it, which means it's important enough to upgrade and expand.

Also, building here, the most expensive part (both permits and actual cost) is to put the cement foundation down.  This one has the whole footprint in cement as far as I can see.  The foundation is considered 50-75% of the cost of a 2 story building.  So weird not to spend another 10% and put walls on it.  There must be a purpose to go to the added expense of building this.  

I wish they would reply to the email.  
 
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I have seen many barns in my life, I have no clue what this building is used for.  

This is in Canada right?  Eh?

I do hope you get a return email soon.  Looking forward to the answer.

As always

Peace

 
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let's see if I can post this photo ... A modern Dutch dairy cow barn, with open sides:


Of course this is no answer to the quesion. It's only to give an idea
 
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Cow barns tend to be quite short, one story.  This mystery barn stands about 3 stories high.  The third story is enclosed, and the bottom area has no signs of walls.  If it was for cow shelter, it would be easier (and about 20 times cheaper) to build it on an external frame and just leave open spaces like the picture above.  But they already have a cow barn (looks like two).  

Talking with people in the community today, someone has seen cows under the wall-less structure.  They think it's a haymow.  This seems the most probable, but why so high?  It could easily be 10 feet shorter and still function as a haymow.  I'm not convinced.  
 
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Maybe someone is tearing it down??
 
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Maybe they wanted to build a guest house but the development permit department said no.  Or they said yes, but we'll hit you with a big tax increase.

And yet maybe they were allowed to build a cowshed with a roof and a *koff* "storage loft." And they did. With room to store the diesel-pusher RV or the bulletproof Bentley underneath?
 
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r ranson wrote:I drive by there about once a week and from that and looking on google earth, there seems to be plenty of barns for the livestock and for feed (hay and grain).  This barn doesn't seem to be fenced in fully, so livestock in that area would risk escaping.  But it is hard to see all the fences and pay attention to traffic.  



If you drive by, perhaps the simplest way to get an answer is to pop in and ask.  One might even be able to build some social capital.  Potentially could even bring a peace offering.

Of course, that's easy to type for an introvert like me....
 
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There is no obvious human barn on the property.   And a lot of locked gates.

Most farmers around here don't like unscheduled humans. The animals have a strict schedule.
 
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Looks like a well designed hay barn to me. The hay barn here is a simple pole building a bit over "2 stories" in height and the former owner tells of stacking hay to the roof on a good year.

If there is no ceiling/floor to the top story the hip roof design, I bet, would keep the condensation that WILL collect on the inside of the roof from dripping onto the hay, and the windows can help minimize excess heat and also condensation.
 
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Barbara Kochan wrote:Looks like a well designed hay barn to me. The hay barn here is a simple pole building a bit over "2 stories" in height and the former owner tells of stacking hay to the roof on a good year.

If there is no ceiling/floor to the top story the hip roof design, I bet, would keep the condensation that WILL collect on the inside of the roof from dripping onto the hay, and the windows can help minimize excess heat and also condensation.


Talking with people in the community,  this is starting to look like the most likely possibility .

I would love to find some more evidence the cows go under the building to eat the hay.  But it's that extra bit isolated from the other buildings,  so fire safety is probably part of the design which supports hay storage.

They should be haying next week, so maybe we can catch a glimpse of them loading the hay.
 
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