How to Build a Shelter for Livestock on Your Homestead

If you plan to establish your homestead, one of the first things you should consider is cattle housing for your animals. If you’re just getting started with hens, ducks, or geese, you have a few options for housing. 

When kept indoors, they should have access to fresh air through windows and doors, or they can be kept outside in predator-proof coops. 

They should be separated from other animals at all times. Larger animals, such as cows and horses, require protection from predators and adequate grazing space to survive. 

A variety of cattle shelter construction ideas will be discussed in this article, so let’s take a look at the best of the best shelters to protect your livestock.

How to Build a Shelter for Livestock on Your Homestead

1. Different Types of Livestock Shelters

There are various types of livestock shelters that can be built for your animals. Before you decide on a shelter, think about the environment and location where it will reside. 

You should also consider what kind of animal will live there to ensure they are comfortable inside their new home. 

Livestock housing must be sturdy enough to withstand strong winds, heavy rains, and snow. The roof should be sloped so that rain and snow can run off easily. It’s also essential to ensure the shelter is well ventilated to provide fresh air for the animals.

There are three main types of livestock shelters:


Barns are a popular choice for housing cattle, horses, pigs, and other large animals. They are usually made from wood or metal and have a pitched roof. Barns provide plenty of space for animals to move around and include features such as stalls, feeding areas, and tack rooms.

Run-in sheds

Run-in sheds are ideal for herds of cows or sheep that are not too large. Wooden walls and corrugated iron roofs are typical materials used in their construction.

Tilt shelters

Tilt shelters are used in areas where strong winds can be expected. These livestock sheds often have pitched roofs that allow the structure to bend with high wind gusts without breaking or causing damage. 

2. Building a Shelter from Scratch vs. Buying One

If you want to build a shelter on your homestead, make sure you have the time and resources to do so. Constructing it from scratch can be extremely daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

If this isn’t something that interests or excites you, then buying a pre-made shelter is the better option for most people. 

You’ll need to check local zoning laws to ensure that they allow livestock shelters before purchasing one, though! Many people want to build a shelter for their livestock on their homestead, but is it the right choice? 

Some things you will need to consider when making this decision include:

  • How much time do you have? 
  • How skilled are you with construction? 
  • What type of climate do you live in? 
  • Do you have room on your property for another structure?
  • How many animals will be using the shelter? 

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about what’s best for your homestead.

3. Materials Needed for Building a Shelter

If you’re building a shelter for livestock on your homestead, there are some materials you will need to keep in mind. The first is the foundation of the shelter. 

You can use concrete blocks or wood posts depending on what kind of climate you live in and how much time/money you want to invest into it. If you choose not to build out with cement blocks, be sure that they go at least one foot deep into the ground! 

This ensures stability during weather events like hurricanes and earthquakes. Don’t forget that animals may knock over any structure if they aren’t stable enough! 

Another material needed is corrugated metal or tin roofing; this helps protect against rain and sun damage (significant for animals). 

Finally, you’ll need to consider the sides of the shelter. You can use wood planks, cattle panels, or wire fencing – whatever is best for your climate and animals. Ensure that there are no sharp edges on anything that could injure them!

There are many different materials you will need when building a livestock shelter on your homestead. The most important thing is to make sure it’s stable and safe for your animals! Some things you will need to consider include: 

  • The foundation (concrete blocks/wood posts)
  • Roofing material (corrugated metal/tin)
  • Sides (planks/cattle panels/wire fencing)

4. Plans and Designs for Animal Shelters

There are several different options when it comes time to build a shelter for livestock on your homestead. Your choice will depend on the type of animal you are housing, as well as what is available in your area and how much money you want/need to spend. 

The first option that many people choose is just building an open-air barn or run-in shed. While this provides some protection from weather conditions like wind and rain, the animals still need access to food and water and must get out of any cold drafts caused by strong winds throughout the day. 

This means they will not have 100% protection against cold temperatures at night if no heat source is provided inside their enclosed shelter (i.e., electric fence, wood stove, etc.). 

In addition, open-air shelters are not the best solution in areas with hot summers or high populations of insects and other pests. In these cases, you may want to consider a more enclosed shelter option like a barn, shed, or coop. 

When building an enclosed shelter, one thing to keep in mind is that it is essential to allow for proper ventilation. If the animals cannot get fresh air, they can easily become ill. 

Additionally, you will need to provide a way for them to get out of the sun if necessary (i.e., windows on opposite walls).

5. Tips on How to Build a Shelter for Livestock on Your Homestead

Consider prefabricated shelters if you cannot build your shelter or have a larger homestead with many animals. These can be expensive, but they often come with automatic water systems and fans for ventilation. 

No matter what type of shelter you decide to build, remember to always provide plenty of fresh food and water and a place for the animals to get out of the sun and wind. 

And most importantly, make sure it is safe and sturdy so that your livestock can stay warm and protected year-round!

Some additional tips on how to build a shelter for livestock on your homestead include:

  • Keeping the door to an open-air shelter closed off from the outside at night with boards or other items that will keep it shut tightly. This can prevent predators from entering and hurting livestock during overnight hours.
  • Ensure a heat source inside enclosed shelters for nights when temperatures drop below freezing levels to protect your animals from getting sick or injured. Good options include electric fencing systems, wood stoves/fireplaces, and heating lamps.
  • Allowing proper ventilation by placing windows on opposing walls and openings along the roofline where warm air can escape. This will help keep the animals healthy and comfortable inside their shelter.
  • If you are housing poultry, make sure there is a covered area outside of the main shelter where they can go to get some fresh air and sun. This will help keep them from getting too hot in the summer months.
  • Before constructing your shelter, check all materials for potential safety hazards (i.e., sharp edges, protruding nails, etc.). Also, make sure that any openings in the walls or roofline are small enough so that nothing can fit through them and injure/kill the livestock.

Building a shelter for your livestock is an essential step in ensuring their well-being year-round. By following these tips, you can create a safe and sturdy structure that will keep them warm and protected from the elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of shelter should I build on my homestead?

There are specific requirements for each type, such as the amount of land that is accessible or the environment in which you live. For example, because hens require less space to walk around than cows, a cow shelter may be larger than a chicken coop in terms of square footage. On the other hand, an all-purpose pen may be ideal for small spaces because it doesn’t require any additional fencing materials to be effective, and it can be set up in just a few hours. 

Can the livestock be inside during bad weather?

You should shelter your livestock from the elements if you have any. This could be as simple as a three-sided structure with a roof or as complex as a barn with multiple entrances. The most important feature is that it shields your animals from the elements, including wind, rain, snow, and ice. If you have enough space, your animals will usually be able to stay indoors during inclement weather. 

How much hay do you need for a chicken coop?

Lots of hay will be required to keep your chickens warm during the winter months. In addition, the hay will aid in the absorption of droppings and the cleanliness of the hen house. Ensure that the hay you purchase is of high quality and is free of dust and mold before purchasing it. Depending on the size of your chicken coop, you might need a different amount of hay than you think. A ton of high-quality straw may cost anywhere from $25 and $70, depending on where you live. 


Now that you’ve decided to keep your animals on your property, you’ll need to provide them with a place to live and rest. The type of shelter you build will be decided by the livestock you have on your property. 

A coop is required to raise chickens to sleep at night and be protected from predators. You have the option of building your coop or purchasing one that has already been constructed. If you plan on raising goats or sheep, building them a sturdy barn with stalls is best. 

Whether you decide to build or buy, ensure that your livestock have enough room to rest and be protected from harsh weather conditions like rain, snow, and sun exposure. Good luck!

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