Livestock is precious commodity. Different from most any other type of inventory, animals like cattle, sheep, llamas, alpaca and horses are living, breathing creatures that demand more special sheltering considerations than simply being warehoused. Understandably, health and welfare concerns are at the forefront for ranchers and farmers, but other issues exist that can sway the decision on what type of shelter to provide for livestock.
Durability, portability and environmental control are other important considerations for someone who makes their living from live animals. The sheltering options available to ranchers and farmers generally fall into the following categories:
Traditional Wood Structured Buildings: This type of shelter would include the typical barn and be constructed of primarily wood. Although nostalgic, wood-based structures have the following shortcomings:
- Lack of durability. Wood deteriorates more quickly than does steel or fabric, making it susceptible to damage. The image an old barn falling into itself comes to mind with this situation.
- Unsanitary. By its nature, wood will hold bacteria left by livestock and inevitably create an unhealthy environment. Over time, wood can be impossible to sanitize, thus making replacement the only option.
- Higher maintenance. A wood-based structure will require ongoing maintenance like roofing and replacing worn out components like doors and panels.
Modern Steel Structured Buildings: A more contemporary approach to sheltering livestock, steel buildings are almost entirely built from steel. In recent decades, they’ve addressed many of the pitfalls that accompany wood structures, but still fall short in the following ways:
- Lack of mobility. Steel structures, although very durable, are cumbersome and in most cases, not able to be moved if need be. Ranchers and farmers can attest there are many situations where it would be ideal to move a structure to adapt to the given circumstance.
- Severe weather danger. Steel structures are typically built from traditional I-beams and sheets of corrugated metal. Most livestock operations reside in either high-wind situations or tornado alley, both of which make for a potentially dangerous situation due to flying, sharp steel. Additionally, lightning is a serious issue with steel buildings, creating a multitude of safety and security issues.
- Ventilation issues. Steel structures can become extremely hot in the summer months, creating additional cost and effort to prevent them from becoming an unhealthy environment for livestock.
Revolutionary Fabric Structured Buildings: The latest in innovation and design, these modern structures combine a durable, light-weight steel skeleton with a tough fabric skin, resulting the best combination of durability, sustainability and functionality. Consider the following:
- Increased Durability. Frames are constructed from zinc-coated galvanized steel that lasts up to 40 years. The fabric, built from durable PVC, (polyvinyl chloride), comes in varying weights to suit the situation.
- Easy sanitation. Steel and PVC can be cleaned quite easily via pressure washing, but won’t deteriorate from maintenance. The result is a clean environment for livestock to be housed in.
- Low Maintenance. Despite their durable nature, the components of a fabric structure may need to be replaced from time to time. Fabric panels and steel frames are inexpensive and can be easily replaced as needed.
- Mobility. Many livestock operations require the animals to be rotated to different areas. A portable, fabric structured building is ideal for this situation as tear down and re-assembly requires the least amount of effort.
- Ventilation. A fabric structure has proven itself to more breathable than wood or steel. This not only provides for a healthier environment for livestock, but also allows for better environmental control.
Ranchers and farmers are faced with unique issues when managing their livestock. With live animals, their health and welfare are immediate concerns that require great care, but at the same time, operational issues like total cost of ownership for shelters can potentially jeopardize the entire operation. Big picture issues like durability, mobility, flexibility and sanitation that can be minimized by opting for a fabric building solution.