Friday, January 22, 1999
FULL TEXT PAPER
Metal Floor Building
by Richard Cobb
In 1975 we constructed a metal floor building on the west side of the sheep complex. Six 8ft by 16ft units were built by an Ag Engineering class on campus and transported to the sheep unit. These units were then mounted on a mobile home frame and attached to that frame using large U bolts. To add more stability to the units were bolted to each other. This gave us a building that we could use for research or for feeding lambs as the interior was flexible so that 24 4 by 6 pens could be set up or the sheep could range over the entire unit. The building was attached to a tractor and moved so that the area could be cleaned. This idea worked well and in 1976 a second metal floor building was built next to the first. The second building housed the Illinois Ram Test Station for three years.
By 1992, both metal floor buildings were showing the sign of wear. The metal flooring in each unit was in need of repair and the trailers no longer moved very well for the yearly cleaning. The decision was made to move the facility and locate it in a less conspicuous area and to mount the flooring on a treated lumber base. To do this, the first building was disassembled into its six units and its metal flooring removed. The units were then moved to the east side of the complex and mounted on the prepared wooden base and reattached to the base and each other as they had been before. Tender foot metal flooring, salvaged from the sheep confinement building at Dixon Springs Ag Center, was put down for the sheep to walk on. The second metal floor building was torn down and discarded.
The new building is 16ft wide by 48ft long with a 4ft wide lumber center alley. At present there are 608 square feet of expanded metal flooring. Research tells us that each growing lamb needs 4 square feet of space wile on expanded metal. This means that there is room for 152 lambs on the floor.
We can construct up to 24 4ft by 6ft pens for duplication in research studies. Pen dividers are made of hog panels cut to the proper length. Pen size can be adjusted to any size depending on the number of lambs on feed.
At present the water needs of the building is supplied by a hose that runs from a hydrant to above the lambs. Where needed, a line is dropped from the hose to an automatic waterer, also salvaged from DSAC. This system works well and is inexpensive. Feed is stored in pelleted form in a four ton bulk bin next to the building and is augered on the floor as needed. An extension cord is run from a close source of electricity when feeding is necessary.
We feel that in its present form the building is functional for lamb feeding from late March to November or December depending on the temperature. It is hopeful that we could winterize the floor by adding plywood to the base and drop sides of canvas that could be raised or lowered as needed.
These metal flooring buildings are excellent for feeding lambs. Because of the air circulation around them they are cool even in hot weather. Fly control could be biological in this case as the manure collection area could be fenced with predator proof fencing and adult chickens could be housed under the floor. There is always spillage from the self feeders as there is in any operation and thus the chickens would be supplied with food and water would be supplied to them.
We look forward to the "metal floor building" being a valuable asset to the sheep facility and program for many years to come.
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