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Wisconsin Dairy Barns Collapse From Snow Load

December 14, 2010

WEAU News in Eau Claire, Wis. is reporting that at least a dozen dairy barns have collapsed due to excessive snow load from a 24” snow fall over the weekend.  

Churchview Dairy, Pepin County, lost six cows when its barn collapsed. Sub-zero temperatures are causing further problems, freezing manure to floors and complicating daily operations even further. The barn at Churchview is just 13 years old.


Though the barns were supposedly built to withstand these loads, high winds often shifted the snow to one side of the roofs, causing uneven loads, says Pepin County Extension Agent Bob Cropp.

Cropp tells Dairy Today that six or seven barns in Buffalo County collapsed, four in Dunn County, three in Pepin County and one in St. Croix County. "Barns oriented east and west had more damage," he says. "We think that is because the north winds blew the snow off the north slope on the roofs and doubled up the loads on the south slopes. So rather than 20" or 30" of snow across the entire building, it was 50" or 60" of snow on one side of the building.
"Most of these are newer barns, just 10 to 15 years old, and were all built to standard and by all different builders," he says. "So it's not the case that these barns were built by one bad builder."
Cropp is recommending other producers check their barns for uneven loads. If there are huge piles on one side or one corner, they should consider removing the snow. But they need to be safe about.
The best option is to use back hoes or other construction equipment to remove the snow mechanically. If personnel do go up on roofs, they should wear safety harnesses."

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