Checking Out A New Beef Barn

Inside Dakota Ag

Beef barn open house draws a big crowd at Howard, S.D., and generates a lot of questions about feeding cattle under a roof.

Published on: October 24, 2013

Folks were in a good mood as they toured a new beef barn built built by John and Brenda Reisch and Jason Feldhoaus, Howard, S.D.

The trio (Jason is John’s cousin) had just completed a 70- x 294-foot three-sided fabric covered hoop barn that they plan to finish cattle in.

About 200 people were expected for open house.

Some were neighbors -- who had been watching the gravel and cement trucks roll into the farm for weeks and came to see what the finished building looked like.

Some were friends who came to congratulate them and wish them the best of luck with the barn.

I stood by John as three bankers peppered John with questions.

What did the barn cost? “About $350,000,” John said, and they did all the dirt work, which was considerable.)

How many cattle will it hold? 400, John replied

What kind of cattle will you put in it? The biggest cattle from their outside lots will go in the barn, John said.

Many times did they plan to turn it over. At least two or three, John said. “We plan to keep it full.”

Beef producers from other towns in South Dakota, who were thinking of building a barn themselves, stopped into to see the facility before it was filled with cattle.

They were curious about how the barn was going to be bedded? “Cornstalks, if we can get 500 baled this fall,” John said)

How often was bedding-pack barn going to have to be cleaned? “The feed bunk apron probably would be scraped daily,” Jason said, but the manure pack would probably only have to be removed once a year.

How were they going to use the side curtain?. “We’ll probably leave it up all fall and winter if we don’t have a problem with moisture build up,” Jason said, “There is enough of a gap at the top to provide enough airflow.”

I asked John and Jason something no one else did: Why did they build a barn? To improve feed efficiency and gain, Jason said, especially in the summer when the heat in their tree sheltered lots can be hard on cattle and in the spring and fall when long stretches of wet weather can make the lots pretty muddy. Other farmers who have put up barns have seen some pretty good returns.

“We have extensive records on our cattle” Jason said.  "Come back in a year and ask me that question again. We'll know better then if we made a good decision."

I’ll do that.