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Size matters: Farm buildings growing in size, number of functions

Farm buildings have historically been single purpose
structures like a chicken house or complex facilities like a milking barn which
might have animal and feed storage, feed and milk processing.  In either case, until recently farm buildings
have been built by owners or local craftsmen. 
With the rise of land grant university extension programs, engineered
plans have become available.  An example
is from the Midwest Plans Service.   

Many farm buildings are now pre-engineered packages available
from commercial builders.  There are
several reasons for this.  One is that
building codes require engineered designs. 
Another is that buildings are getting too big and complicated for the
local farmer to erect them himself. 
Farmers used to install their own electrical and plumbing circuits more
frequently this must now be done by a licensed craftsman.   Local contractors  build to plans prepared by a materials
supplier such as Menards or commercial builders like Wicks and Morton provide
turn-key buildings.  Metal frame, pole
and conventional fabrication are available.  
More recently, fabric covered hoop buildings are gaining in popularity.

A casual look at a modern farmstead shows most buildings are
single purpose.  Even a combination
machine shed and shop is dedicated to machinery.  Single purpose buildings can be designed to
optimize certain functions such as storage, milk production, swine gestation,
maintenance and grain storage. 

The farmer's main function now is to choose the basic design
and features.  There are a number of
internet sites to help decide on types of siding, depth of concrete floors,
manner of heating, illumination schemes and what doors to choose.  The commercial contractors, local builders
and supply houses can also make recommendations attuned to your area and
needs.   The University of Missouri
discusses how to choose a pre-packaged building. Iowa State University and South Dakota State
University have publications on the use of hoop barns for cattle and
swine.  Farmers thinking hoop buildings
will be cheaper than the less expensive than or provide tax advantages over a
pole barn will be disappointed.

Agriculture.com Buildings And Bins forum has a discussion about
the use of hoop barns for cattle finishing, which includes a testimonial for
the engineering done by an Iowa hoop building firm.  

As farms increase in size and become more specialized,
farmers see the value in modern, large, functional buildings.  There are many styles to choose from.

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