How to build a cattle shed

Cattle are hardy outdoor animals, but a good cattle shed will provide your livestock with a safe place--protected from rain and snow--to seek shelter from a storm and to get hay, oats and water at feeding times. A good shed is easy to build and simple to maintain, provided that the basic care is taken to reinforce structural posts. Although large sheds will require contractor support, a shed for supporting up to eight head of cattle is within the scope of a do-it-yourself job.

Pour a concrete floor as the foundation for the shed. Concrete is preferable to dirt as it is easier to clean and reduces the risk of hoof infections. Plan on 50 to 60 square feet of floor space for each cow or bull.

Sink 4x4 posts every six feet, properly rooted in up to three feet of concrete, around the perimeter of the foundation.

Use the 2x6 planks along the top of the vertical posts to square off the roof level. Ensure that the planks are level, and trim the posts to be flush with the planks.

Nail bands of the 2x6 planking to the inside of the support posts, at 3 feet and 6 feet, to serve as bracing supports for the walls.

Put the pre-built trusses on the roof and use nails to secure to the top of the framed-in walls. Trusses should be 3 to 4 feet apart.

Use plywood on the trusses to form the base of the roof and nail or screw the plywood into place. Staple the felt to the plywood.

Shingle the roof as per the shingle-manufacturer instructions, paying careful attention to the shingle overlay pattern.

Nail the siding (e.g., corrugated aluminium panels) to the outside of the wall.

Paint the siding, if desired.

Two opposite sides of the shed should be open for the cattle to enter or exit through a door. Cut the aluminium between two exterior wall posts and install a hinged door, using heavy-duty hinges on a 2x4 frame and using the leftover siding as the door panel.

Mount the door to the wall posts and install a slide bolt to secure the door. One door should have the slide bolt on the inside, and the other on the outside, as a safety precaution.

If open-air windows (ventilation portals) are desired, they can be framed with 2x4s and mounted between wall posts. Make sure that the siding material does not pose a cut risk to the cattle. The leftover material from making the hole can be reused to make a storm shutter for the window.

Bring in any troughs and feeding racks necessary to provide for the cattle.


To provide additional protection against insects, birds, and bats, consider installing a soffet flush with the outer wall, under the roof overhang. Be sure to include adequate ventilation if you do. Soffet kits can be acquired from most larger building-supply stores. If mice are a concern, use leftover concrete to fill in the space between the foundation floor and the folds of the corrugated steel walls, to seal the bottom of the wall against bugs and rodents. Consider running a water pipe to the shed to make cleaning and watering easier, and consult with an experienced electrician to provide a power outlet and overhead light to make working in the shed easier.


Make sure the floor is level, or water will pool--if this is a concern, consider a gentle angle of the floor toward a common central drain, which would be led by PVC piping to a drain field away from the shed. Aluminium or steel siding can get hot to the touch in summer--plan for shade, or proper cross-ventilation within the shed, to keep the cattle comfortable.

Things You'll Need

  • Concrete mix
  • Plywood
  • Shingles, roofing felt, and roofing nails
  • Roof trusses (shallow pitch, prebuilt)
  • 4x4 structural support posts
  • Siding material--e.g., corrugated steel
  • 2x6 planks
  • 2x4 planks for door frames
  • Heavy-duty door hinges
  • Slide bolt(s)
  • Hammers
  • Saws
  • Tin snips


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About the Author

Jason Gillikin is a copy editor and writer who specializes in health care, finance and consumer technology. His various degrees in the liberal arts have helped him craft narratives within corporate white papers, novellas and even encyclopedias.