Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Skinny on Hoop Buildings?

After listening to and watching a few virtual farm tours of various swine operations here in Iowa over the past three weeks I have have seen and heard quite a bit about hoop buildings. These particular farms were using them for winter farrowing in huts, bred gilts, and finishing pigs for market. In most cases bedding was used (sometimes deep bedding) and there was even one farm featured that had in floor heating running under the concrete where he placed the huts for winter farrowing. Everybody seemed to have a slightly different design within the basic hoop framework, but I would say that everyone was pretty well pleased with the hoops.

All of this led me to think, "What is the skinny on hoop buildings?" I assume there is some initial cost savings involved because there is less steel and wood involved and maybe there is something to the design that makes it work well. But, why else are so many hoop buildings popping up ... especially for livestock feeding? Is money the main issue here?

I tried doing a little google research, but I didn't come up with a lot in the way of price differences. I did find this .pdf file about the cost of putting up a hoop building for cattle feeding, and this article about the cost comparison of a conventional confinement hog building and a hoop building. In the case of the cattle feeding hoop it was really big and seemed really expensive to me, and when it came to the confinement building vs. the hoop building the research used concluded it was almost a wash.

The reason I ask all these questions is because we are looking at building a livestock feeding building (as you probably know). Should a hoop building be on the research list? I'm not so sure because I don't know how it would work out as a multi-use building, but I want to make sure I cover all of my bases.

I would love to hear any thoughts...

6 comments:

Rich said...

The cost comparison between a conventional confinement hog building and a hoop building is comparing the production costs per pig instead of the cost per square foot. In other words, even though the production costs per pig are the same, a hoop building costs a third less per square foot since the pigs are allowed more space in the hoop (although adding end walls would add significantly to the final building cost).

On the subject of why so many hoops are being constructed, I suspect that since hoop buildings can be erected faster, it might be preferable for a larger farm. If a person was raising a large number of pigs, then a few weeks (or months) of extra construction time might be expensive due to lost production, etc (no building means no pigs to pay for the building). For a smaller farm, I am not so sure the quicker construction time frame is as much of an advantage.

Of course, if a farm plans to switch to a deep-bedding system, is a hoop building almost required to accommodate the different management methods (ventilation, bedding, more space per pig, etc.)?

Some things that I would consider before building a hoop building would include some of the following: Are there tax advantages to hoop buildings? Since it might be considered a "temporary" structure, property taxes might be lower in certain locales. Additionally, is the depreciation handled differently for a hoop building (quicker depreciation due to its "temporary" nature)?

Are there insurance considerations to consider? Is a hoop building more expensive to insure than a conventional building? Are hoop buildings more or less prone to wind damage or snow load damage? How much would it cost to repair damage to the building (would the entire tarp need to be replaced instead of some sheetmetal)?

Jena said...

I know I have shared with you before that we are considering a hoop building. I really like the idea personally, my husband is still on the fence. As Rich said, it seems to be a great type of building for deep bedding. I like the idea of good ventilation and light of natural light. Our buildings now are dark and shadowy - not very conductive to healthy animals. The initial cost would be much lower and most of the coverings we looked at are guaranteed. Even if you did have to replace them (& you would, eventually) the cost is not too great. Most of the initial expense is in the steel.

I think the buildings would be good to house animals in the winter. I was thinking of some type of rotation where space is used for laying hens in the winter and some other animal in the summer.

I've been talking with Matthew Nettles at FarmTek. He has been very nice and helpful so far, and not very pushy at all so I would recommend him. The number is 1.800.327.6835.

T.J. said...

Hi again, I know here in polk county alot of people use hoop buildings because it is a loop hole in the confinement regulations if the animals are in deep bedding and can at least step outside, they are not considered a confinement building. That is probably why you see more and more of them.

Tim W. said...

There are many formulas to figure for cattle/hog and also hay storage, as well as bushel capacity. As far as the benefits vs traditional buildings; do your checking for your type of application. I currently sell hoops and recommend them (mine or others) over steel buildings. The ease of installs and the amount of natural light let in is enough to sway someone who is on the fence. check us out rushmorebuildings.com

Anonymous said...

They do it because it is cheaper an easier on pigs and humans than flat floor systems. That it is still a confinement type system makes it more palatable to hog farmers, they don't have to think as far outside the box.

But it still isn't as good as a pasture based system.

Hoop building said...

I think there are several factors to consider for hoop buildings. Cost, location, tax advantages, animal type. Compare the costs; hoop buildings are predominantly less costly and can be erected more quickly. Location is also important as these buildings do not offer the insulation characteristics that a conventional building offers. If you are located in the south, a hoop may be better.

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