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13 Types of Farm Buildings

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Understanding the distinct types of farm buildings will help you know how farms work and where to store things. Whether you’re interested in becoming a farmer in the future or you want to know which buildings to start with on a homestead, knowing about structures is always a sound idea.

Farms have specific buildings designed to house animals, store feed, and provide shelter against harsh weather conditions. In addition, heavy machinery and other equipment requires special housing that is durable and easy to access.

Here are some of the thirteen traditional farm buildings you’ll see across the country, along with information about why they’re so important to farmers.

1. The Farmhouse

Farmhouse and vineyard landscape in Tuscany Italy

Most farms have farmhouses, but not all. Farmhouses are typically reserved for the farmers and their families to live in while they’re working on the farm.

Individual farms almost always have farmhouses, but more significant agricultural operations often go without farmhouses because workers travel to the site daily.

Farmhouses vary in size depending on how many people live there, but most are small, modest houses because the cost is always a concern on a farm

A good farmhouse has an unobstructed view of the property. It’s close enough to react to any issues quickly, but it should also be far enough away to offer privacy for families, especially if there are other workers on the farm all the time.

2. Barns

red barn on a farm

Barns are likely the most iconic farm building you’ll see worldwide. Of course, it’s not a farm unless it has a barn.

Barns have such a strong tie to our cultural history that people use them for weddings, parties, and other functions. There are even interior and architectural design styles fashioned after barns.

Barns are primarily used to shelter animals and keep their feed dry. However, it’s a multi-purpose structure where many farmers store equipment, essential tools, and other supplies.

Its size makes it ideal for keeping most of your larger animals and machines. Its tall doors allow for ease of movement, and barn designs provide good ventilation when things get hot outside.

3. Brooder Structures

Chicken brooder used for caring for young chicks in a cage with a heat lamp for warmth

Brooders are buildings on farms that farmers use to house young animals when they’re particularly vulnerable to weather and larger animals.

For example, farmers will relocate young cows, pigs, ducks, lambs and kids, and chickens into the brooder house because it’s smaller and easier to control indoor temperatures.

They’re usually heated and enclosed to prevent young livestock from escaping when not under constant supervision.

Brooder structures can be large or small depending on how many animals the farm has.

4. Processing Buildings

Processing buildings are more structures you’ll find on working farms. It’s a place where people can process meat, handle poultry, or shuck corn.

These buildings are usually built based on what the farm needs them for, and they’ll need to be large enough to accommodate the volume the farm expects to handle each year.

5. Milking Parlors

Automated system of cow milking on modern techonological milking parlos on farm with cattles each slot

Working dairy farms will need milking parlors to make milk and house cows comfortably. Modern dairy farms have a lot of equipment that makes milking cows possible on a larger scale.

Traditionally, people milked cows by hand, but that becomes unsustainable with the more cows you get.

Some milking parlous are open-air, and others are enclosed and have heating and air conditioning. It depends on where the farm is located, the number of cows inside, and other factors.

6. Stables

Horse stables with horses inside on the farm

Stables aren’t on every farm because they’re specific to horses, donkeys, and mules. But, once it is built, a stable can be used much like a barn to house other animals or machinery.

Stables, like barns, vary in size and shape. A larger farm will usually have more extensive stables because they’ll have more horses, and a smaller farm or homestead may only have a stable large enough to fit a few horses.

7. Grain Silos

silos for agricultural goods in a warehouse on a farm field

On many American farms, you can see large cylindrical buildings called silos designed for effective grain storage.

These tall structures make it easier for trucks to load and unload grain as it is processed and converted into food or animal feed.

These buildings are commonly built on corn, wheat, soybean, and similar farms. In addition, there are often multiple silos to accommodate changes in farm crop yields.

Some smaller farms don’t need grain silos because they don’t produce enough grain. Instead, they truck their grain to independent silos or directly to the company buying their crops.

8. Chicken Coops

Chickens in a chicken coop on a farm

Of course, many farms and homesteads have chicken coops that keep chickens safe and warm all year. Even free-range chickens need a place to rest and roost. It’s where farmers and families go to fetch fresh eggs every day.

A good chicken coop is comfortable for the birds and also protects them from common predators on a typical farm, like foxes, coyotes, and large birds. They’re usually elevated off the ground and have multiple entrances.

9. Fuel Storage

Fuel storage on a farm

Large farms require heavy equipment to operate successfully. You have tractors, diggers, mowers, tillers, and other large equipment that needs a lot of fuel.

Constantly buying fuel offsite and bringing it to the farm wastes time and money, so many farmers have fuel depots on their land to make things faster.

Fuel storage is typically situated away from other structures because of safety concerns. The size of the fuel tank and any pumps will depend on how large the farm is. An on-site fuel depot allows farmers to fill up trucks and machinery without going to a commercial gas station.

10. Sheds

What about animals that aren’t as big as a cow or small as a chicken? Farms have animals like pigs, sheep, geese, and other livestock that need something smaller than a barn but bigger than a chicken coop.

Sheds are versatile farm buildings that you can build to specifications based on need. They can be large or small, and simple to construct.

The open-air design provides good airflow, and the shed protects humans and animals from rain, snow, and the sun when it’s hot.

11. Garages

Empty Red Garage on Farm

A lot of farms have garages dedicated to working trucks, plows, snowmobiles, ATVs, and other vehicles.

Farmers prefer to keep vehicles away from animals to prevent exposure to toxic fumes. Keeping them in a well-ventilated garage avoids gas buildup and lowers health risks from housing animals next to many cars or trucks.

12. Sties for Pigs

Pig farm in countryside

Horses have stables, chickens have coops, and pigs have sties. Pig sties found on farms usually have shorter walls or fences to house the pigs and keep them sheltered in different weather conditions.

One of the most critical aspects of pig sties is effective waste management. They need to make cleaning up after pigs fast and easy.

13. Abattoir

Freshly meats hanging in the cold store, Cattles cut and hanged on hook in a slaughterhouse

The abattoir is where farmers slaughter farm animals. For example, a working livestock farm will have an abattoir to slaughter cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens for sale or individual use.

Final Thoughts

Farm buildings have evolved to meet the needs of the farm. The structures you see on farms hinge on the farm’s purpose, size, and resources available to the farm’s owner. These buildings are the fundamental structures most working farms will have and why they’re necessary for a good farm’s success.