Concrete in the farmyards

PRIMGHAR, Iowa — March and April are often a nightmare in feedlots because of mud. Concrete put in the right place makes feeding cattle a pleasure during these months

Start Right

Good feedlots are built out of the subsoil that has less organic matter and is stable when wet or dry. It can be compacted into a stable base on which concrete will be poured. Grade it to the desired slope and remove any rocks in the subgrade.

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Put it on a Slope

Concrete that is outside will have runoff with rain and because it is long-term, a person should choose wisely where it will go. There is a need for solids settling on all cattle lots and funneling the runoff to one location makes it easy to keep the lot clean and well maintained. Be sure that when it comes to cleaning, you consider the tractors and loaders to make the dirty jobs easy. A slope of ¾ inch per foot will be self-cleaning, while ¼ inch per foot will settle solids.

Use Curbs and Edges

 To define where the water will be going and where equipment is meant to clean, use small curbs like 1 ½ to 3 ½ inches which will hold a loader on the concrete if it is next to a soil lot. We recommend 20 feet of concrete behind a fence line bunk with a 3 ½ inch high curb before entering to earth lot area. The rule for partial earth lots is that runoff water flows onto concrete, never off the concrete into the lot because of excess erosion and mud.

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Strength and Rebar

Most concrete in feedlots should be 4,000 psi, 6 inches deep and have ½ inch rebar every 4 feet when the project is finished. Concrete strength is decreased by 500 psi for every 3 gallons of water added per yard so you may want to order it a little stronger if you plan to add water at the site. The big equipment that will be on the slab is the reason for the strength needed and we will probably get bigger equipment with time. Cure it with water or curing compound to maintain strength, especially if pouring on hot, dry days.

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Plan for Expansion

 Most successful feedlots will expand over time so leave room for expansion. Think about where you would like to be in 10 or 20 years with an overall plan that does not require concrete destruction. Properly placed concrete will last for over 100 years.

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