Beef Cattle Housing

It’s not necessary for your beef cattle housing to be fancy, but there are several things to consider when building new housing or reconfiguring existing housing to accommodate your cattle properly. When designing and organizing your beef cattle housing, the following must be considered: space for each animal, shelter style to provide protection against the elements, feed, water, waste management procedures, and facilities for birthing if necessary.

Shelter Location
Ranchers utilize buildings such as barns, open-front sheds, and windbreaks, depending on their geographical location and weather patterns. Always take full advantage of the natural features surrounding your shelter site. Although you’ll want a water source close to your shelter, it’s best not to build or use a structure right next to a stream or body of water. The type of beef cattle housing you decide on will depend on whether you have snow, abundant rainfall, or extremely hot temperatures.

Drainage
The location for your shelter should be well drained so your beef cattle aren’t suffering from more than just the cold or hot weather. The pens for the cattle should be on a slope. Water should drain effectively away from the areas in which the cattle eat, drink, and rest. The roof of the shelter should slope away from the cattle pens. It may be necessary to adjust the slope in the pen area by making earth mounds for effective drainage (less than 4%). Ranchers in wet geographical locations may want to consider paving the entire pen area. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to at least provide concrete pads in the feeding and watering area so the cattle aren’t standing in mud on a regular basis.

Feeding and Watering Areas
Feeding troughs should be positioned in such a way that drainage is away from the actual area where the cattle eat. Concrete aprons should be poured along the feeder area. Dimensions of the concrete aprons should equal the width of the scraper and the wheels of the tractor used to do the scraping.

Water should be available to the cattle at all times. Make sure to clean your water troughs or sources once a week to prevent the buildup of algae. Feeding troughs should be freed of leftover feed each time prior to new feed being added.

Other Beef Cattle Housing Considerations
Beef cattle housing should also be well ventilated to inhibit the buildup of moisture and heat within the structure.

Fences surrounding the shelter and used in the pens should not have any sharp edges. Barbed wire is not recommended for housing cattle. However, fences constructed from wood, metal runners, woven fence wire, or cable are all acceptable materials for beef cattle housing.

Clean and adequate bedding is a must to keep your cattle healthy.

Waste should be properly diverted away from any water sources. Retention and settling basins are often a requirement for trapping and retaining runoff from the cattle housing areas during those times of heavy rains and spring thaws.

In order to provide the best possible housing for your beef cattle, be sure to consult ranchers in your area to see how they have set up their shelter, feeding areas, pens, drainage, and waste removal procedures.