Summit Livestock Monoslope Beef Barns Offer Producers Wide Range of Benefits
Published on Thu, 04/05/2018 - 11:35am
Summit Livestock Monoslope Beef Barns Offer Producers Wide Range of Benefits
By Steve Weisman
Beef producers and consumers alike are always looking for ways to more efficiently, safely and more cost effectively bring high quality beef to the market place. The challenge is there are so many variables that come into play: limited acces to high valued real estate, productivity and safety of the animals and the always-changing weather. So how can beef producers handle these variables? A recent movement has been to bring cattle indoors.
At the forefront of this movement is Summit Livestock Facilities (www.summitlivestock.com), a construction company with a 60-year legacy that has built more than 20,000 pre-engineered, post-frame building structures. Summit Livestock was started to provide cost-effective facilities that are designed and engineered to serve the needs of protein producers throughout the U. S.
Based in Remington, IN, Summit Livestock Facilities, itself was launched in 2011 to be a pioneer in the development and construction of innovative protein-producing livestock facilities. Their facilities do more than house animals—they improve animal health and production, improve operational efficiencies, solve regulatory issues, and alleviate social concerns. Their reputation for structural integrity, quality materials, and professionalism stands strong today.
Ed Bahler, CEO and son of Edwin A. Bahler, the founder, says this about the reason for Summit Livestock Facilities. “Some of it was really a response to a growing need that we saw and heard from our customers that they were being challenged to produce cattle in a more humane way, in a more sustainable and economical manner.”
Benefits of Summit Livestock Monoslope Buildings
To meet this demand, Summit Livestock Facilities has designed the monoslope facility, which has proven to provide cattle with the perfect outdoor/indoor environment that offers six key benefits:
• First, the facility houses the cattle by offering a warmer, more comfortable and drier environment. The barn offers excellent ventilation and year-round comfort with the warmth of the sun in the winter and protection from the hot sun in the summer.
• Next, because of the more comfortable environment, the Summit Livestock monoslope barn offers improved cattle performance, which, according to Summit Livestock customers, includes between a 15 percent to 25 percent increase in feed efficiencies over cattle raised outdoors.
• A third positive is greater efficiencies with the producer able to better monitor feeding patterns (reducing waste), able to more readily catch health issues earlier to better manage animal care and by designing the building for more efficient workflows, the producer can improve employees’ performance, as well.
• The fourth positive is optimized fertilizer value. With a monoslope building, the producer cannot only manage cattle waste more efficiently, but also protect its nutrient value from rain, wind and sunlight. In fact, research shows that the nutrient value of manure from an open lot is about $35 per head per year, while nutrient value of manure stored under roof in a slat-over-pit cattle building is about $75 per head per year depending on fertilizer prices.
• The ability to provide a safe environment is also an important factor, especially when it comes to cows and calves. Being able to monitor the cows prior to birth, through the birthing process and raising calves in an environment that is safe and easily monitored is a true benefit in the expansion of the monoslope in beef production.
• A final benefit is building a legacy. It’s more than the herd, or the EPA or the producer’s ROI. It’s about tomorrow and the producer’s descendants. It’s about building a structure, a business and a future. Summit gets it, and the buildings reflect it.
Reflecting on the impact of Summit Livestock Facilities, Bahler notes, “For us, it’s about making a difference for our customers. You make a difference by innovating and finding a better way to do it. We have the people who can really dig deep into facility problems or production problems or technology problems. That is unique in this industry. It’s about addressing what threatens their organization long term and being competent and capable enough to find deep seated and deeply rooted solutions to those issues.”
From a Producer’s Perspective
When Ashton Gronewold graduated from college in 2009, he knew he wanted to come back to the farm near Carthage, IL and work with his dad, Merlin. Although he worked off the farm fulltime, Gronewold began building up a cowherd. In 2016, he went fulltime on the farm and with his brother-in-law Evan joining them, the cow calf herd has grown to 150 pairs in the spring and another 150 pairs in the fall. At this point, they knew that they needed to develop a better management system.
Gronewold says, “We started looking in early 2016 and looked at an awful lot of styles and types, and asked as many questions as we could to get a feel for what would work best for us. We began to narrow it down, deciding we wanted to go with an indoor facility. After a lot of research, we chose to go with a monoslope building from Summit Livestock Facilities.”
Through the research, Gronewold found there was a lot to like about an indoor facility. “First, we were looking at the availability and cost of pasture, which is becoming more and more expensive. This would allow us the opportunity to add 150 cows to our farm without increasing the number of acres of pasture. We were also looking at improving our operating efficiency and improving our feed efficiency. Finally, we wanted to improve our profit potential. After our research, we turned to Ed Leman, Sales Manager for Summit Livestock Facilities, to learn more.”
At this point, Leman became an important part of the decision-making process. According to Leman, “In general terms, it’s about trying to maximize their potential and make the facility as efficient as possible. By going with a Summit Livestock monoslope building, the cattle receive optimum ventilation, shade during the heat of the summer and full sun in the cold of the winter. Essentially, the weather variables are removed from the equation.”
Leman believes, “It’s always important to sit down with producers and learn what their goals are. Each one is different, and it’s about creating the plan that will meet their needs. We can even design a facility based on future expansions.” Even though each barn is pre-engineered, the system is flexible and allows for each one to be designed and built specifically for that producer. “The smallest I have sold is a 40’ x 90’ facility, while the largest is a 100’ x 1315’ monoslope building. However, we can really design for any size operation. Based on size and complexity, construction can take anywhere from three to six months.”
Leman continues, “So, Ashton and I sat down and discussed their vision, what they were looking for in a facility.” Based on their conversations, they came up with a 100’ x 252’ monoslope building with a capacity for up to 300 head of cattle or in Ashton’s case, 150 cow calf pairs. It is designed with three pens to house the pairs with feed bunks on both sides. Cornhusks are used for bedding and a bed pack used for storing manure.
The monoslope barn construction began in late October of 2016 with the structure completed before the end of the year. Now 10 months later, Gronewold has this to say about the process and the results. “The entire preparation and construction can be totally turnkey, or the producer can do some of the work. We did a lot of the dirt work and building prep. Then Summit came in and did all of the concrete work and the construction of the building.”
So, will the monoslope building handle severe weather situations? Gronewold says, “This past spring we had a bad storm come through with 85 mph winds, and the structure withstood everything. They came out and did a quality inspection, and everything checked out.”
As for reaping the benefits of the new building, Gronewold asserts, “We do a lot better job managing our cattle with the monoslope. It’s easy to walk in there and check them multiple times a day. Our feed is getting utilized at 100 percent, and we can monitor exactly what they need to have. Calving was way easier in the barn; that’s been the highlight. The footing was good, the conditions were good, the cows never had a wet back and the calves have been tamed since we’re in there so much.”
The Summit Livestock Way: The Producer’s Way
Both Leman and Gronewold concur that the key to the entire process is taking the time to sit down and talk through the producer’s vision and discussing the entire process. Producers can do as much or as little as they feel comfortable doing. Summit Livestock offers a total turnkey approach that basically covers everything:
• Partnering with registered PE’s in the producer’s area for smoother permitting
• Maintaining a network of industry experts and advocates
• Procurement to get the right materials at the best price
• Supervising, coordinating and communicating with subcontractors
• Communicating and coordinating with all parties, including animal husbandry and company stakeholders
• Developing and maintaining a comprehensive schedule that includes site preparation, concrete foundations and flatwork and providing a skilled, expert crew
In addition, the Summit performance agreement essentially transfers the risk from the producer to Summit:
• Brings predictability to the job
• Creates a seamless, efficient process
• Ensures that all parties work together
• Protects schedules
• Provides a consistent level of quality
• Maintains a safe site
To learn more about what Summit Livestock Facilities can offer you, give them a call at (800) 213-0567, or go to summitlivestock.com/info to request more information.