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And you thought hills were bad for farms!

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Vijlskovgaard Farm

Does this look like the future of farming? That was the name and goal of the architectural competition in Denmark that linked 6 farmers with design teams to create beautiful architecture for their farms. I don’t think it looks too far into the future, in fact I was amazed at how simple and common the structure and interior looked for such a beautiful exterior!

Light open interior

Light open interior

Vijlskovgaard farms milks 440 cows in his new barn and the design has the flexibility to hold 600 cows. They implemented a Lely robotic milking system, 6 robots installed now and room for 2 more. They also use a robotic feeding system, and auto bedding system.


The design implemented heat recovery off the milk for the heated areas, like the milk house and the heifer calf areas as well as for heating the house. The barns ‘peaks’ are completely louvred and open with curtains that close behind them, typical of dairy barns here. They have also implemented a fibre recovering system from the manure to use as bedding.


The farmyard planning follows all good principles as I outlined in my previous post. The main lane way comes to the heart of the farm for access to old and new facilities. The building cross creates a few small yards within the wings and also connects various yards and infrastructure to each other (ie the manure pit, pastures, to the driveway). The cross layout allows everything to be closer together for efficiency father than one really long barn, or multiple long barns.  I tried to obtain a floor plan directly from the architect but that information is confidential.  But you can take a virtual tour here with the architects model.


The design mimics the landscape it sits in, hilly and mountainous. The peaks of the barn enhances and respects the landscape and also provide great cross ventilation in all directions. The large peaks let lots of light in resulting in happy and healthy cows! Rather than making one extremely long monotone, dull barn the crossing creates interest and personality to the barn without needing to ‘decorate’ it with timber poles that wouldn’t hold up much inside the barn. There is even some brick as a nod to the traditional homestead. I also need to gush at the nighttime look. Dairy barns are quite beautiful at night, they are strips of light along the landscape of darkness. The vijlskovgaard farm adds even more interests and creates hills of light at night that would normally be invisible.

Now I know your all thinking it must have cost a fortune! I was pleasantly surprised as I hope you will be too. The total cost of the facility was approximately $8.3million for 8800square meters (94,722 square feet). This cost includes all the equipment, robots, milking system, and penning and works out to about $90 per square foot! Compared to a small facility that is wood frame may cost around $60 per square foot, this is completely reasonable for good architecture and good dairy barn design. That cost also includes a public front/processing area that most barns would not include.


This collaboration of aesthetics and function created a barn worthy of replacing the traditional bank barn of our rural landscape as the future farm! The farmer is extremely happy with his new barn (quote from the architect), and the milk production has been even higher than expected! It’s amazing what some creativity can do for your farm and your bottom line. What do you think of it, I am curious Ontario dairy farmers, so please drop a comment?

Photos courtesy of LUMO architects, landbrugsavisen, arch daily.

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