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Build an Alpaca Barn
Farm Animal Shelters for any budget
Building a shelter for your alpaca, or any other farm animal, is one of the most important investments you'll ever make. However, not every farmer has the budget for the fanciest barn money can buy. I've built animal shelters that cost less than $150, less than $15k, and less than $50k. Each had a specific purpose and was cost appropriate.
Here I'll detail the three types of animal shelters I've built, and how much each one cost. Every farmer will tell you that you can't build too much barn. You'll always wish you had made it bigger.
We're building animal shelters for alpacas, and in the summer alpacas need to keep cool. We're more worried about heat in the summer than we are
cold winter months. These guys were designed for cold weather. That means our animal shelters are built to provide shade and airflow. Many alpaca farms in the south will have barns that are open on all sides. We also use fans in the summer to help keep alpacas cool and our barns typically have electrical for those fans. Correctly burying electrical to your barn will add significant expense. We also run water to our barns and want them built with minimal ongoing maintenance.
Metal roof or garage builders are great barn builders for under $10,000
The first barn we built was crafted by David Charity of Arbor Wood Products. He traveled the Southeast assembling metal building kits that are built like pole barns. There are many companies that do this (such as Armour Metals). Some use pre-built metal trusses while others use wood trusses. We specifically wanted the wood trusses so we could box the eaves to match our house and it would be easier to build-onto later.
We had David build a basic 3-sided 24x36x10 metal roof pole barn with:
- 4 posts every 9' in back (4 animal stalls), 3 posts every 12' in front
- metal siding on 3 sides
- white vinyl soffit to match the house
- an 8' shed roof on front with concrete slab floor (for the front porch)
- a 12' shed roof on back
- 2 large 12' sliding barn doors on 2 sides
- cupola on top of barn with exhaust vent mounted inside
- slab under front corner 12x12 section (office floor)
- window in front corner 12x12 section (office window)
- 12" crush and run for barn floor, dry lot, and barn driveway
- bobcat work to level site and spread gravel for driveway and barn
David's work on this barn came in at 26k.
Our electrician ran power and water to the barn, installed the 2 Nelson automatic waterers, installed farm faucet, framed the barn office, and installed all lighting and electrical. That work was added substantially to the finished price.
Metal carports make great animal shelters for under $2000
For our second barn we just needed a shelter for the "boys". They're not too fancy. They just need to get out of the rain and sun. For this shelter we used a metal carport with "boxed eaves". The 18'x36' model can often be purchased installed for under $2000.
Hoop shelter's can be made for under $200
When we needed a temporary shelter for quarantine, I used cattle panels from Tractor Supply and a tarp to make a hoop run-in shed. It's great for its ability to handle rough weather because it's flexible and moves. It's also a very affordable shelter.
Basically most are built by driving two parallel rows of metal t-posts (3-4 T-posts for each row) into the ground with 5-10 feet between the rows, depending on the desired arch. In my case, instead of t-posts I used an existing fence-line and metal corral panels. You take the 16 foot cattle panel and bend it in an arch between the two rows of supports. Since cattle panels are 4' tall, I strapped 3 of them together making a shelter that is 12' deep. After building the arch, attach a good tarp on top and you have a shelter.
For our shelter I used 3 cattle panels at $20/ea and a good tarp so that the total cost of this shelter was around $100.