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Old Greenhouse Makes Low Cost Calf Barn
A low-low cost calf barn, formerly a greenhouse, has served New York dairyman David Bush, of Homer, very well. It's raised 85 calves in three years, with no more than the normal number of calf deaths.
"To boot, it's not a permanent building so I haven't had to pay any taxes on it," David adds.
He bought the greenhouse, then covered it himself with a double-wall of 6-mil plastic. The amount of air space between, for insulation, varies from 3 to 8 in.
Cost of the plastic was about $300 three years ago, but now needs replacing. The greenhouse arches (4 ft. apart) are aluminum and cost him $800 total. Center height is about 10 ft.
Total money spent to convert the 22 by 96 ft. structure into a calf barn was $2,400. "It will house 30 calves, plus store feed. You can't build calf hutches for that," exclaims David, who milks 70 cows.
Sunlight shining through the plastic warms the structure, along with an assist from the manure pack in the process of composting. David speculates that a space heater could be installed in such a structure, if needed during winter months.
Three fans circulate air, and straw bedding is used on the gravel floors. "I don't see why a greenhouse like this wouldn't work pretty well for hogs or poultry, too," David told FARM SHOW.
Moisture condensation is a slight problem, but the New Yorker speculates that he simply needs more ventilation. To clean out manure, he drives a tractor loader inside twice a year. Electrical wiring and lights are affixed to the arches, and a 20-in. air tube full length distributes air.
David lets the greenhouse stand empty in July and August but says it could be used by covering the greenhouse top with nylon mesh to help keep it cooler.
Six calf pens measure 12 by 15 ft., and house 4 to 5 calves.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, David Bush, Rt. 1, Homer, N.Y. 13077 (ph 607 749-3283).

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1982 - Volume #6, Issue #6