Livestock Shelter or Greenhouse?

One of the questions we are often presented with has to do with customers wanting a structure for dual purpose. In itself, this could be considered as a wise strategy to get multiple uses for a building so that it can be used closer to year round.

The question which needs to be asked is “Are these complimentary applications?

One of these dual applications is for greenhouses and livestock shelters. There are a lot of similarities between the two with the most prominent ones being a double roof cover with air between and that they often have roll up sides.

Where the problem arises is that when you have a greenhouse, there MUST be a clear cover to allow the proper spectrum of light to come through to allow plant growth to occur. This level of light comes with heat which can easily be a problem for animals.

For a livestock shelter 90% of the battle is keeping them dry and out of the wind, cool is better then warm. If your animals will only be in the shelter during inclement weather, you will likely have more leeway in dealing with heat.

We have had customers who cover with single clear during growing season and the put an extra layer of white during the animal housing.

If you have any questions or concerns on how you plan to use your shelter, please call or email for extra input.

Growing Over Winter in a Greenhouse

There are quite a few ways to make a greenhouse more heat efficient to make it feasible to grow either through the winter or for a large part of it.

The first thing to determine is what crop(s) you wish to grow since a number of plant varieties would be considered cold weather crops. The heat requirement would be considerably less.

Since the majority of heat loss is through the roof, the most common method of making a greenhouse more heat efficient is by adding a layer of plastic to the outside. With the benefit of a small blower there is an air pocket created. The closer that this air pocket is to “dead air” the less heat transfer that there would be. 10 to 15 cm is considered the ideal gap. When there is more then 15cm there will start to be movement of air and greater heat transfer. It is impossible to have a perfectly uniform space because of the way the plastic goes over the ridge and is fastened around the edges.

It is important not to have any holes in the plastic. The resulting air loss with a hole would result in air movement and less heat efficiency.

It is often thought that a lower greenhouse is easier to heat since there is less surface area to lose heat. The reality is that the bigger air volume of a taller greenhouse is less likely to have the temperature fluctuate.

To make a structure more heat efficient, the north wall could be insulated. Care has to be exercised in insulating ends since it is important not to create extra shading. Insulation can be put flat on the ground around the structure as a way of slowing down the cold radiating into the structure.

Another trick that some people have used effectively to reduce heat requirements is to make small tunnels over the beds of vegetables. This works well for the night time. It is important to have this cover removed in the day time to maximize the value of the sunlight.

If your intention is to only use part of a larger structure through the winter, it is wise to hand a curtain for the length of the ridge and then only use the south facing side. This maximizes the benefit of the sun and minimizes the effect of the cold wind.

With a little creativity it is easy to get benefits from the greenhouse even in the winter.

How to Remove Snow from Your Building

Video: Norm explains the situations where you would need to remove snow from a Greenhouse or Storage Building and how to do it safely