- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, S.D. (AP) - The owner of one of South Dakota’s first monoslope-style cattle barns says it makes his cows happier and more productive.

The 433-foot-long barn at Weber Farm and Feedlot in Alexandria has a roof with a single slant to one side, the Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/1Lz0nuD ) reported.

Doug Weber said his family’s 950 cows are more comfortable in the barn and are more approachable and calmer than when they’re roaming open fields.

“They’re kind of glad to be in the barn,” Weber said. “When they were outside, we’d get close to them and they’d run away. They were always huddled in the corners trying to fight the flies and heat. Now, they’re in the shade, they’re approachable and calm.”

The direction of the barn and the slope of its roof provide shade and airflow in the summer and lets in the sun in the winter.

“These barns always run east to west for these reasons - the airflow and sun availability. It’s pretty simple but effective,” said Nic Rowe, engineer from Pro Ag Engineering and the head of the barn’s construction. The barn also has a 12-foot-deep pit underneath, where Weber can store up to a year’s worth of manure that can be used later as fertilizer.

John Lentz of the Natural Resources Conservation Service said the barn is among the first three or four barns of its kind in the state.

“You get more nutrients from this, because those nutrients are all contained to the pit,” Lentz said. “They don’t get lost in rainfall and in the elements.”

Weber’s monoslope-style cattle barn also helps address manure runoff caused by a creek that flows through the farmland.

“We live real close to a creek here, and in our outside lots, whenever it would rain, manure would wash towards the creek,” Weber said. “So the NRCS has this program to shut our old lots down and set up a barn like this to keep from losing that manure. We figured it was a good investment.”

The Webers spent six months revamping their farm, installing the barn, planting trees for shelters and implementing other conservation practices.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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