Across the country, people envision farms based on what they may see driving a country road or traveling the interstate. In fact, barns come in all shapes and sizes – from little, red barns to big, open barns. But, farmers decide on barn styles for different reasons.
On Jessica Folkema’s dairy in Michigan, freestall barns work well for their cows. These barns, which are long rectangular shapes with open sides, provide plenty of space for cows to move around, or lie down and relax in sand bed stalls.
“[We like] freestall barns because they keep cows comfortable in Michigan’s changing seasons,” Folkema said.
While most farmers have dairying in their blood from an early age, Folkema met her husband in college. By the time the two had fallen in love, her future husband had decided to become a full-time dairy farmer. In the time since, Folkema continues to learn everything about dairying – including understanding the style of barns she and her husband use to house their cows.
When it comes to choosing a barn style, cow comfort is the first priority. In fact, when Folkema and her husband recently added on to one of their barns, they included a number of features to make their cows more comfortable. For example, they added a new ceiling vent, which allows hot air to rise and naturally pulls in fresh air from the barn’s open sides.
“We’ve actually noticed that cows prefer to hang out in the new half, likely due to better ventilation,” Folkema said.
In addition, their barn also features fans and sprinklers to keep their cows cool, and grooved concrete flooring, which gives their cows more traction when they move around.
And how did the cows feel once they entered their expanded barn? Folkema captured their joyful entrance on video: