The Vosberg family has been in the dairy business in south-west Wisconsin for three decades. For at least two of those, they’ve housed animals in fabric hoop barns. The family has chosen hoop barns for two reasons: cost savings and versatility.
“My in-laws chose to go the route of the fabric barn because of costs,” Sarah Vosberg says. “You can typically purchase them cheaper than traditional housing structures, and because we can put them up ourselves, it saves us the cost of hiring a contractor.”
The versatility options are endless. The Vosbergs have five fabric barns: Two of them house milk cows, two house calves and heifers and the fifth is used to store sawdust for bedding and machinery.
Their high-production cow barn is open; one end is closed with tin and has a roll up door. When it’s hot the doors can be opened, and there are fans in a single row the length of the barn that move air across the width. “We graze, so we found that our cows like to stand in the prevailing winds,” Vosberg says. “Before we ran the fans lengthwise, the cows would group at the end of the barn. By modifying placement of fans, the cows lay throughout the barn because they are all in the prevailing wind.”
This barn was rebuilt after the original barn was destroyed by a tornado. Milk cow barns like this one have sawdust compost bedding with a scrape alley. There’s a feed alley outside with awning to protect feed and scrape alley inside.
In the Vosbergs’ calf barns, there is pea gravel as the base and sand on top. “We put our calf stalls in, and once they graduate from calf stalls we use group pens,” she says.