Farm Structures

A farm structure is a building or facility built on a farm, especially big farms, and is used for farming operations.Some are used for the housing of farmers and their families or workers of the farm. Some can be used for crops, livestock or equipment.

Farm structures are different types of physical constructions that are put up in a farm for the purpose of livestock and crop production.

These structures help increase the efficiency of agricultural production.

Most of the farm production processes are carried out under controlled environment in order to maximize the output. For instance:

  1. Animals must be protected from rain, wind or high sunlight intensity in order to keep healthy.
  2. ii) Harvested crops must be protected from water, insects, fungi and extremes of temperatu

iii) Farm machinery must be protected from rain and dirt to keep depreciation level to a minimum.


Farm structures must be located in suitable areas for a farmer’s ease of use. Therefore, siting is very important in the construction of farm structures and buildings.

Sitting refers to locating an area where a particular farm structure or building is to be constructed.

Factors considered when site selecting.

(i) Topography: If the land is too sloppy, there are high chances of landslide occurrence; and if it is too flat, there is likelihood of poor drainage that leads to flooding. A relatively flat free drained area is most suitable.

  1. ii) Prevailing winds and rainfall: Windbreaks are put perpendicular to the direction of wind to reduce wind velocity. Strong winds can destroy buildings. Site the farm buildings facing away from the direction of wind,and away from the direction of prevailing rains in order to minimize chances of water entering the buildings

iii) Soil type: Soil characteristics and strength determine its ability to withstand stress exerted by a building. Erect structures on firm, well-drained soils.

(iv) Nearness to utility sources such as electrical power linestelephone lines and piped water: This allows cheaper access to essential services.

(v) Sewage disposal: The design must be in such a way that the lengths are in straight lines for ease of cleaning when blocked. The system should be accessible to a disposal vehicle.

(vi) Security: The area chosen must be secure against theft, vermin intrusion, fire or tresspassers.

(vii)Accessibility to roads: The farm structures and buildings should be located near the public road. This facilitates fast access of farm produce to the market.

Parts of a farm building

Most farm buildings comprise of the following parts:

(i) Foundation

It is made on the firm sub-soil.

They are laid to a depth of about I-2m depending on the soil type e.g. in clay soils, deep foundations are laid, while in sandy soils shallow foundations are made.

How foundations arlaid

Farm building foundations are laid on a firm soil layer (i.e. sub-soil) since top soil has poor bearing capacity. Therefore it is recommended to dig down to a layer of firm soil. Trench work is done on-site after marking out the foundation outline.

Set out and check the diagonals for accuracy, excavate the trench of at least 400 mm wide to allow someone to work in it. The sides of the trench are trimmed to get a straight, vertical and fair finished face of the sides.


They are vertical loaded parts of a building.

These can be made of stones, bricks, timber, blocks.

They should withstand side pressure from wind etc.

The wall should be strong to carry load of the roof and their own weight.

The type of materialused to construct the wall is determined by the following factors:

(i) Availability of the materials.

(ii) The use of the building.

(iii) Weather conditions of”the place.

(iv) Strength of the soil in the area.

(v) Cost of the materials.

(vi) Level of technology to be used.

iii) Roof

It protects the house from rain, sun, wind and cold.

It provides protection to the animals or stored crops from damage by adverse weather conditions.

Features of a good roof: must be leak proof, able to withstand the load of the roofing material, durable, fire proof and a good insulator of heat.

Cornmon roofing materials are: timber, steel and the roof covers are grass, galvanized sheets, asbestos, tiles, fiber glass, etc.


Roofing is done after wall construction.

Procedure for roofing:

  • Positions of the post are marked.
  • Supports for the joints are prepared.

(iii) Timber joints are then fixed on the supports.

  • Firming piece are fixed on the joints to provide the required fall
  • Tongues or grooved boards are fixed on the joints covering the whole roof surface.
  • Fascia boards are nailed at the lower and sloping edges of the roof to conceal the joints. Gutters are fixed to collect water from the roof.
Farm building, any of the structures used in farming operations, which may include buildings to house families and workers, as well as livestock, machinery, and crops.The basic unit of commercial agricultural operation, throughout history and worldwide, is the farm. Because farming systems differ widely, there are important variations in the nature and arrangements of farm facilities. The buildings on a farm generally consist of the farm family’s house, the dwellings of any resident hired workers, and the various structures and facilities for farming operations. This article deals with farmhouses and service buildings that can be classified as follows: livestock barns and shelters; machinery- and supply-storage buildings; buildings and facilities for crop storage, including fodder; and special-purpose structures.
General Layout
The location of the farmstead and the relative position of its different buildings are influenced by several factors, external and internal. Among the external factors, mainly natural, are soil conditions, climatic conditions, and access facilities to the main road and to the fields.Internal factors depend on the type of business enterprise suitable to the farm. Among general principles that must be taken into account are the necessity of some partition between the farmhouse and service buildings, minimizing of transportation between buildings, the possibility of enlarging buildings, and security against fire. Four general layouts may be defined: large crop farms, large stock farms, farms in underdeveloped areas, and small to medium mixed farms.

Large crop farms

Independently owned farms of this type, mainly cash-grain farms, are numerous in North America. The layout is simple: there are generally two types of service buildings, one for storage and the other for machinery. Large farms specializing in fruit production have a shed for the conditioning and storing of products, the other main building being a machinery and supply shelter. Some large farms specializing in viticulture include buildings that are equipped with wine cellars.

The small and medium farms which characterize European agriculture and which exist in many other parts of the world are managed on the traditional mixed farming and animal husbandry system. Consequently, this type of farm normally has several service buildings: one for machinery, one for hay and cattle, another for hogs, and still another for sheep. In mountain areas, however, there frequently is a single building, including the house. With the increase of the average size of farms in these areas, there is relative specialization, and the number of buildings in the newly built farms is decreasing.

Building Types

These include homes (farmhouses), livestock barns and shelters, buildings for machinery and supplies, and crop storage and special-purpose structures.


The basic requirements for the farmer’s family are about the same as those of the urban family, but certain features of the farmhouse depend on the farm life pattern. Because the farmer generally comes directly from the fields or the service buildings, with soiled clothes and boots, it is necessary to provide a rear entrance with a washroom or lavatory and clothes-storage space. For the same reason, many farmers prefer a dining place close to the kitchen or included in it. The house must include an office and a large food-storage place with ample refrigeration, including a freezer or cellar in many countries, as most farm families are large. There are usually three or four bedrooms.

Satisfactory modernization of old farmhouses is difficult in some cases, but if the available floor space is sufficient and the main walls strong, renovation can give good results. The cost of a new house must be proportionate to the farmer’s income; for this reason, farmhouses in underdeveloped regions have less floor space with a main room (kitchen and dining room), two or three bedrooms, a large washroom, and a storage place.

Livestock barns and shelters

Barns and shelters tend to be the most important elements of the livestock farm. Two general types of animal shelters may be distinguished: the multipurpose type, a single-story building with clear-span roof construction, useful for feed storage and machinery, as well as for livestock; and the specific type, designed for a particular type of animal.

There are two major cattle-housing methods, the stall barn (or stanchion barn) and the loose-housing system. In the stall barn each animal is tied up in a stall for resting, feeding, milking, and watering. The typical plan has two rows of stalls. In older buildings hay and straw are stored in an overhead loft, but in modern layouts adjacent buildings are generally used.

Cow-shed A cow shed can also be referred to as a barn. But it is only designed for the purpose of keeping cows. 6. A shed A shed is a simple structure used for storage of equipment or as a workshop.

In some countries, in old as well as new dairy farms, cows are housed in stall barns that include milk rooms. Milking takes place in stalls, and the milk is carried either in cans or directly by pipeline to a refrigerated tank in the milk room. Modern layouts with loose housing always include a milking parlour, either stationary or rotary. Two types of loose housing are used: loose housing on permanent litter and loose housing in free stalls, either under a clear-span roof or under a narrow lean-to roof.

Beef-breeding cows often live on pastures, with only open-front sheds, during the calving period. In France and Scotland, however, they are kept in barns all winter. For fattening steers there are two major housing systems. The first of these is the American system, with very large groups of animals and a wide surface per animal. In the western United States the open feedlots include only fences, troughs, and alleys for feed distribution. In the Midwest Corn Belt a shelter is often included. The second, the European system, is characterized by very small groups (10 to 20 animals each) and a very small surface, generally covered. Any of the four loose-housing systems can be used.

  1. Crushes

These are used for restraining an animal when carrying out certain livestock routine practices, such as, spraying and milking.

Crushes have a holding yard and consist of a head rail and a horizontal split which allow easy access to the sides of the animals’ body.

The horizontal and vertical bars aid in fixing the animals’ head during dehorning.

The tad bar at the entrance holds an animal in.

There is an open gate at the front of the crush to allow exit of the animal.

A crush is used while carrying out the following operations:

  • Hand-spraying or hand dressing to control ectoparasites (ticks).
  • Drenching animals against internal parasites.
  • Vaccination against diseases.
  • Artificial insemination.
  • Applying identification marks e.g. branding, ear notching.
  • Taking body temperature of an animal.
  • Close examination of sick animals.
  • Milki
  • Pregnancy diagnosis .

Examples of the crushes:

(a) A three post crush: Normally used when handling one animal.

(b) A crush for a small scale farmer: It is longer than the three-post crush.

Its length is 3 m and width is 1 m.

(c) A crush for holding many animals: This is mainly used during vaccination of livestock.

Management of animals in a crush

  • Animals should be arranged in a single row. Animals of the same ageshould follow one another.
  • Care should be taken to prevent the bunching of animals together.
  • Animals should move towards one direction only.
  • Restrain vicious animals.

Maintenance of a crush

  • Repair any broken or worn out posts and rails.
  • Apply old engine oil on the post made of timber to prevent destruction by termites. Carry out regular checks for any loose frames.
  1. Dips

It is a farm structure designed to accommodate a chemical dip wash in which animals are immersed for the purpose of controlling ticks.

Components of a dip

  1. Collecting yard

It is used for holding animals before dipping. It should allow for about 2 m? space per ( cattle) head. There should be a water trough for animals to drink before dipping. The floor should be built of waste quarry stones to help remove mud from animal hooves.

  1. Foot bath

Its purpose is to wash hooves of animals so that they are free of mud. It contains copper sulphate solution to control foot-rot disease. The number of footbaths depend on the soil type. One or two footbaths may be placed at the dip entrance.

  1. The jump

This is a narrow entrance to the dip tank with short steps. It is 34-45 em above the dip wash level hence it allows for maximum immersion and enables dip wash splash to return into the dip .

  1. Ditank

This is where animals are immersed. It contains the acaricide solution.

  1. Draining race

It helps in recovery of the excess dip wash back to the dipping tank. This is possible since it has a sloping floor towards the dipping tank. It should be water tight, rough and have no cracks, pot holes and long enough to increase the back flow of water.

  1. Silt trap outlet

Mud and dung in the dip wash is trapped here as it flows back to the tank from the draining race. This helps to reduce siltation of the dipping tank ..

  1. Roof

It is made using corrugated iron sheets to reduce evaporation and dilution of the dip by direct sun and rain water, respectively. It is also referred to as dipping tank shelter. It may be used to trap rain water for use in the dip.

  1. Soaking pit

Used for dumping sediments from the dipping tank. This ensures no pollution of the environment.

  • Nearness to the grazing areas so that animals do not walk for long distanc
  • The site should be on a firm ground to be able to withstand the pressure exerted on the ground by trampling of liv
  • Good drainage of the construction site. This minimizes flooding in the surrounding areas that could lead to dilution of the dip wash. It also reduces soil erosion which causes siltation in the dipping tank.

Cattle management at the dip

(i) The frequency of dipping depends on the tick infestation level, otherwise once or twice per week is adequate.

(ii) The best time to do the dipping is in the morning or during cool weather. (iii) Provide the animals with drinking water before dipping so that they are not tempted to drink the acaricide solution.

(iv) First, run 10 -15 animals through the dip so that they mix the dip wash, then Dip them a second time.

(v) Animals should be arranged to enter the dip in a single file.

(vi) Do not dip sick, injured or pregnant animals and too young calves. (vii) Dip the animals according to their ages.

(viii) Dip all the cattle the same day.

(ix) Keep records of all the animals dipped.

Maintenance of a cattle dip

. Regular testing of the dip-wash by use of a dip-testing kit to keep the dip chemical strength ‘at the correct concentration.

Clean foot bath before and after dipping.

Lock securely the entrance and exit to the dip to prevent access by intruders or stray animals.

Drain away the dip wash carefully to avoid the contamination of pastures and nearby water sources.

Ensure the roof of the dip is leak-proof to keep off rain water. Replenish dip wash by topping its level as necessary.

Repair any cracks in collecting yards, foot baths, dipping tank, silt trap, draining race and walls.

For horses and ponies it is customary to use individual stalls, where the animal can move freely, even though this requires more space. Mules may be kept together in large pens. In mild climates sheep and goats live on pastures without any shelter. The facilities include fences, waterers, corrals, dipping vats, and lambing and shearing sheds. In moderate and cold climates the flock is wintered in sheds. The trend is toward clear-span buildings, with large alleys so that trailers can distribute feed into racks and troughs. Ewes are housed by groups (50 to 100 each), and special pens are kept for lambs. Feed racks and fence partitions are generally movable. For the dairy ewes there are special milking parlours. Goats are housed either in tie stalls, for small flocks under 50 head, with milking on the spot, or in pens, for larger flocks housed by groups, with milking in a special milking parlour.

Pig housing varies for sows and fattening pigs. The sow lives with its litter for four to eight weeks according to the weaning age chosen. During this period there are two types of housing: movable, individual houses (generally of wood) located on or close to pastures and fixed in place, and central farrowing houses. A sow may farrow and live with its piglets in a single pen or farrow in a special stall, to avoid possibly crushing the piglets, or may farrow tied up by a chain or a harness. The pregnant sows live either free in groups of six to 12 or tied up or blocked up inside individual stalls. In cold climates the house is heated; in all modern practice infrared lamps or tubes are used to keep the piglets warm. Fattening pigs, like fattening beef cattle, may be kept either in a simple feedlot, in large groups with a wide surface per head and a simple open shelter, a system widely used in the United States Corn Belt, or penned in a closed building, isolated and ventilated, each pen holding seven to 15 pigs. This is the most common system in Europe. Size of the pig units varies all the way from five sows or 20 pigs to large farms of up to 100,000 pigs.

Poultry farming is the most-industrialized type of animal production. Some of the breeding phases no longer take place in farms but in specialized plants; the farmer buys either chicks for broiler production or young layers for egg production. The typical modern broiler house holds from 10 to 100,000 birds, with automated feeding.

A chicken coop or chicken house. A chicken coop or chicken house is a small structure used for keeping chickens especially the female ones. It is built basically to protect them from bad weather and also a place where they can lay their eggs for easy collections. The chickens are not kept in the coop or house all day. The chicken house has a door which allows the chicken to come outside during the day and absorb sunlight. And they sleep in the chicken house at night.

Brooder house: A brooder house is a farm structure used for keeping young livestock especially poultry. This structure is a heated enclosed shelter.

Two types of facilities can be used. The broilers can be put on the ground on a deep litter of wood shavings, on wire mesh above a pit, or on a combination of these two floors. Alternatively, the broilers can be housed in metal cages, on three stories, each cage holding three to 10 animals. In this case, feeding and cleaning are mechanized and the density is higher.

The typical laying house holds several thousand hens. The same facilities as for broilers are used, but use of the cage is more common for layers.

There are several types of cages, some of which are mechanized to facilitate feeding, cleaning, and egg collecting. Each cage can hold one to five hens. The density can reach about two hens per square foot (23 hens per square metre). The main types are cages in two- or three-story batteries (California cages), which are not superposed but rise in tiers; and flat-deck cages, which allow maximum mechanization.

The buildings are generally one story, fully enclosed; they have insulated structures with sophisticated ventilation systems. Turkeys and other fowl are housed like poultry but generally on the ground. Rabbit production involves housing by groups in cages, on one, two, or three stories.

Buildings for machinery and supplies

This type of building is designed solely to afford protection from the weather, mainly rain. Machinery storage should have as much surface as possible between the interior posts, without being too deep, so that each machine can be taken out easily. The best solution is a clear-span shed, wood or metal-framed, 25 to 35 feet (eight to 10 metres wide), open on one side and 15 feet (4.5 metres) high under the gutter. At the end of the shed, one bay is reserved for repair and maintenance and another for tools. This part is equipped with sliding or overhead doors. The same shed, or another, can be used for storing the fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides.

Crop storage

Wheat, barley, shelled corn (maize), and other cereals can be stored in farm bins if the moisture is below a certain limit (from 10 to 15 percent). In some cases artificial drying is necessary before storage, though it is possible to store wet grain, especially shelled corn, in airtight silos for animal fodder. The most common methods of storage of dry grain are (1) in piles of five to 10 feet (1.5 to three metres) on a waterproof floor in a building with reinforced walls; (2) in square or round bins erected within a building, usually of timber, plywood, corrugated steel, or wire mesh lined with waterproof paper; and (3) in watertight bins, often of corrugated metal, with their own roofs, for outside erection. Ear corn is dried by natural ventilation through a crib of limited width, located in a building or outside. Loose or baled hay is stored and sometimes dried by ventilation with fresh or heated air, either under sheds or in special installations called hay towers. Silage is made to conserve moist fodders, such as corn, sorghum, and grass. There are two types of silos. The horizontal silo is parallel-piped, either cut into the ground (trench silo) or built aboveground (bunker silo). The floor is natural earth or concrete. The walls can be concrete, timber or plywood, or sheet steel. The capacity varies but can be large. The tower silo is an above ground cylinder, with 20- to 30-foot (six- to nine-metre) diameter and a 50- to 65-foot (15- to 20-metre) height.

Silo . A silo is a storage facility for storing of grains such as corn, rice etc. such or silage. A silage is a fermented feed i.e. dried hay or straw for cattle and other livestock. The silo keeps the grains dry and protected from rodents and insects. There are different types of silo such as tower silos, bunker silos, bag silos, concrete stave silos, fabric silos, etc. The most common types of silos used in modern day farming are the tower, bunker and bag silos.

Ordinary silos, which are only watertight, are of wood, concrete, masonry staves or blocks, or steel. Special airtight silos with steel walls and a fused-glass surface are used for storage of high dry-matter silage, called “haylage.” Fruit and vegetable storage for family consumption is usually in caves or cellars. For crops to be marketed, conditioning and storage generally are handled by commercial enterprises, but some large specialized farms have their own storage. The buildings are insulated, and temperature control is assured either by ventilation with outside air (i.e., for potatoes and onions) or by refrigeration (i.e., for apples).

Special-purpose structures

Many secondary farm structures, such as smokehouses and well houses, are a leftover of the past, but some are necessary in specialized farms. A typical example is the tobacco barn, built for static air circulation.

ASSIGNMENT : Farm Structures Assignment MARKS : 10  DURATION : 1 week, 3 days


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