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Published March 24, 2014, 09:15 AM

SD cattle producers eager to see results of new facility

HOWARD, S.D. — John Reisch and Jason Feldhaus are excited for summer, and it’s not because they don’t like the cold. They’ll get to try out their recently constructed hoop barn, to see if it keeps their black angus cattle cool during a typical South Dakota summer. Only then will the pair at Reisch Farms truly know how their investment into a new facility is paying off.

By: Marcus Traxler, Forum News Service

HOWARD, S.D. — John Reisch and Jason Feldhaus are excited for summer, and it’s not because they don’t like the cold.

They’ll get to try out their recently constructed hoop barn, to see if it keeps their black angus cattle cool during a typical South Dakota summer. Only then will the pair at Reisch Farms truly know how their investment into a new facility is paying off.

“They can handle the cold pretty well. It’s the heat that is tougher. That’s when we’ll know how well this works,” Reisch says.

The finishing facility south of Howard replaces two of the farm’s outside pens and holds about 400 of the farm’s largest cattle inside the 294-by-70-foot building, which cost about $350,000.

The new barn’s biggest impact will likely come in the summer, when cattle are shaded below the big white roof. Protection from direct sunlight and hot days of July and August will make a big impact on the animals, Feldhaus says.

“Having that shade makes a world of difference,” he says.

Air flow will also be a key benefit during the summer months, as the cattle take in a breeze from the north side of the building, where the barn’s curtain is. Even when the weather is cold, Feldhaus says they have to leave the curtain up a little bit to allow for air to move, otherwise too much condensation builds up inside the building. The building has three walls, leaving the south side open for feeding and the gates to the outside pens.

The project began last June, and the farm was cleared of cattle for the first time in decades, as the water system was upgraded.

“It was different, but we were in a hurry to get the building done and so we didn’t take much time to enjoy it,” Reisch says.

Installing a new water system on the property increased the capacity on the farm and allowed for use of the local rural water system as a backup to the farm’s cistern and well system. Feldhaus says the farm’s well previously would have had enough water, but the summer months put pressure on the aging infrastructure. Having the rural water backup is a good insurance plan, Feldhaus says.

“The last thing we want is to be out of water,” he says.

Reisch and Feldhaus say the true return on the building will be known after a year — they’re currently on their first turn through with the cattle. But the benefits of the barn itself have started to stack up. For one, it’s much easier to clean, with feeders being easily accessible, and the apron behind the feed bunk is cleaned once per week. Along those lines, the work is scheduled better, in that Feldhaus and Reisch have a good idea of how long daily chores will take.

Another benefit of the building is that the animals seem to handle being moved better, according to Feldhaus. The sorting process is easier, and Reisch says the manure should be easier to manage because it’s more easily contained.

“It’s just good to make things a little easier around here, I guess,” Reisch says. “I think it will really be a good thing.”

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