How to Design a Farm
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How to Design a Farm

How to plan a farm. Where should buildings be on a farm. What buildings are needed on a farm. Why do farms have so many buildings. What considerations are needed for planning a farm.

Some people dream of starting their own farm. They imagine the layout of their farm, where the house would be, where the barn would be and so forth. More often than not they end up buying an already developed farm, but a few will have to plan on where their house, outbuildings, and pastures will be. This is a guide of considerations in regards to where your farm house, barn, and other things should be on your farm.

Not all farms will need all the following features, but these are the most common:

  • Driveway
  • Farmhouse
  • Barns
  • Machine Shop
  • Septic Field
  • Pump House - Wells
  • Granaries
  • Hay Storage
  • Chicken Coop
  • Sheds
  • Pastures and Fields
  • Housing for Farm Employees (typically a mobile home)
  • Manure Control

Legal Concerns

Before you start mapping out what should be where, consider that there may be legal issues in regards to how close buildings can be to the road, or other features of your property. You need to have a professional assess the best building sites according to location of gas lines and other things that may already be present. The best locations for wells should also be considered.

Layout Considerations

The Driveway should be straight and accessible to all buildings, with a large turn around area suitable for big rigs with trailers (hay trucks, cattle liners). The drive way should have easy access from the main road.

The Farmhouse should be central, ideally with windows on every side allowing you to survey your property at any time. Many people chose to put their farmhouse on a raised part of their property, a small hill, this allows for more visibility of the property and helps with water run off, stopping farm run off from coming to the yard.

The Barns should be accessible to the house (especially if you will not have employees) with concerns keeping them far enough away for odor and run off concerns. Barns should never be at the bottom of a hill in areas where there are heavy spring runoffs.

The Machine Shop is a large garage, it is where farm equipment can be stored, and repairs can be done. Many farmers find that having the machine shop closer to the house than the barns works well.

The Septic Field and Well location need to be considered as well, this is best done by a professional.

Granaries are usually located towards the front of the property, along side the driveway.

Hay Storage is usually close to the barns, but not right next to the barns, in case of fire.

The Chicken Coop may be located fairly near the house if only a few hens are kept for personal egg production, but if more than 8 hens are to be kept then this should be further away as it can be smelly, particularly if the chickens are not let out in the day to free range. Keeping the coop close to the house has many advantages, including the fact the birds are safer when being let out to free range, and you do not have as far to go to let them back in at night.

If you keep livestock animals they need to have Sheds. Beef cattle, unless calves, or calving, are the exception. The sheds should be placed so they face opposite to the direction of the prevailing wind. If at all possible they should also be situated so they are easy to see into from the farmhouse or farmyard.

Pastures and Fields

With the exception of extremely large beef cattle operations, most farmers want to keep their animals in pastures closer to the farmyard, with pastures further out being the ones used for crops. It is a good idea to have several individual pastures so the animals can be rotated, allowing for the pasture to regrow as well as for worm eggs (shed in the feces) to die. It is a good idea to have smaller pens, near the house, for the younger animals that may need special attention.

Housing for Employees is often set back aways to provide the staff with privacy. It is usually fairly close to the barns.

You will also want to decide what you will do in regard to Manure control, most farmers collect it and spread it on their land, others sell it for yard fertilizer, either way, where are you going to put it?  Run off and odor being two major concerns.

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Comments (8)

Excellent plans revealed.Thank you.

thanks for the valuable post is one of my plans, just in case i'll reach retirement, to put up a farm

Its not often that we get to see the makings of a farm in person. Excellent tips Brenda!

interesting thanks

Interesting article, Brenda. Having grown up on three farms, I can't honestly say that anything you shared in this article was new to me but I'm sure that it provided an education for the city slickers amongst us readers.

Very well said Brenda, I will be keeping this for my farm retirement plan, thank you.

Fun article!

Very helpful for prospect barn owners.