Wheeled Calf Shelter Folds Out To 60 Ft.

Not satisfied with the portable calf shelters on the market, Richard Waltman, Wetonka, S. Dak., decided to build his own "fold-out" calf shelter on wheels. It works so well he's already built a couple for his neighbors.

"It's designed to protect cattle from wind from different directions and is big enough to protect a lot of cattle, yet it can be easily transported down the highway by a pickup or tractor," says Waltman.

The calf shelter consists of a 12-ft. wide, 24-ft. long, 7-ft. high enclosed barn and two 24-ft. long, 8-ft. high wings that are hinged where they attach to the barn. The wings fold out to form a windbreak. Both the barn and wings are made from corrugated steel screwed onto a frame made from sq. steel tubing. Calves enter the barn through 38-in. high, 4-ft. wide holes cut into both side walls. The end of the barn opposite the windbreak is partially open and has a steel gate across it.

The entire unit is supported by four large rubber wheels -- two under the barn and one at the end of each wing. The position of each wheel can be changed by adjusting the position of a pin. Rolling the wings out 90 degrees from the barn forms a windbreak that's 60 ft. long.

In the field, the shelter rests on the ground. To transport it, Waltman uses a front-end loader to raise the end of each wing so he can adjust the wheels for transport, then rolls both wings back against the barn and locks them in place. Then he uses the loader to raise the barn and goes inside to lower the wheels.

He then folds a 4-ft. long tongue down from one end of the barn for towing.

"It's highly wind resistant and is good insurance against snowstorms during the calving season. It'll protect about 75 cow/calf pairs," says Waltman. "I got the idea for it one night three years ago in the middle of a spring snowstorm. So far I've built five shelters and sold two of them to neighbors.

"The barn keeps the calves dry and the windbreak gives the cows a place to get out of the wind. They can't get in the barn be-cause the side openings are just high enough for a calf to enter. I put the gate in the one end so I can inspect the calves and get inside to unpin the wheels for transport. However, it can also be used to let a cow inside, if necessary. My calf shelter is bigger and much easier to transport than commercial skid-mounted calf shelters, and I can drive it on the highway. In transport position it's narrow enough to go through a 14-ft. wide gate.

"Stabilizer braces made from 2-in. sq. tubing connect the windbreaks to the barn after it's set down. I lay the braces on top of the wings during transport. I used steel pipe to make double throw hinges for the wings. The double throw hinges allow both wings to flex up or down as well as in or out on uneven terrain. The tongue is welded to the bottom part of the barn, and there's a screw jack mounted on the gate end of the building."