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Building a $2.5 million dairy barn the local way

June 22, 2011
For the Howes of Vankleek Hill, Ontario, using local contractors was the key to a successful barn construction project. And the many visitors that came to see it were also impressed.
When the Howes familiy of Vankleek Hill began rebuilding their dairy barn in July (2010) after a fire destroyed their old one, equipment and more than half their herd last spring, Leonard says he was expecting some glitches along the way.
            But there weren’t any. Construction of the new 327-foot-long by 98-foot-wide free stall barn went “roughly smoothly”, he says, noting he’s pleased with the end results and how well the contractors and equipment dealers all worked together.
            His advice to other farmers contemplating a building project is to hire local contractors. Leonard says they all know each other from working together on other structures and that makes for a smoother project.
            Leonard, Beverly and their son, Mark, held an open house March 19 (2011) so their community could see the new $2.5 million facility. That amount includes the barn, the equipment and replacement cattle.
            Built by the local contractor Sylvain Cheff of Bourget, the new barn has space for 128 cows. It has a milking parlour, holding area for cows and feed room. Nestled in the front corner are an office, bulk tank, and utility room. There’s a temperature-controlled room for young calves and an area set aside for heifers.
            Construction of the wood barn was started in July 2010 and completed in March. Leonard says their contractor had prepared the site by cleaning it up right down to the foundations.
            The new facility is located 80 feet further away from the home than the old barn was. “We put it like that to get more ventilation for the free stalls,” he says.
            Ideas for the new facility came from the Howes, the contractor and the engineers that drew up the plans. Leonard says the new barn will speed up their milking time because the cows are now in a free stall rather that the previous tie stall barn.
            The temperature-controlled room for young calves will enable the Hoews to keep a constant temperature for the animals. That will be better for the calve’s health because they won’t be housed in cold spots or be subjected to drafts, Leonard says, nothing that it’s nice and warm in the room, “Extra heat goes in there and it’s all ventilated.”
            Safety features include fire extinguishers and firebreaks every 100 feet between the rafters. Leonard says the fire extinguishers wouldn’t have stopped the fire last April because it swept through so quickly, but they will help if there is ever a small fire.
            Susan Murray, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), says 50 dairy barns were built in Ontario last year-less than we have seen in other years, according to Dan McDonald, an OMAFRA engineer based in London.
            McDonald says that rebuilding or constructing a new barn gives farmers an opportunity to include energy efficiencies and operational improvements. “New constructions also allow them to properly plan layouts to optimize the ventilation, feed delivery and cattle movement characteristics of the barn.”
            Some new trends in dairy barn construction also allow producers to take advantage of opportunities to become energy producers instead of being energy consumers.
Article by Susan Mann, Better Farming Magazine
To see the farm equipement of the Howes Family in video, click on the link: http://www.youtube.com/user/jameswayfarmeq?blend=23&ob=5



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