Story: Farm buildings

Page 1. Uses and materials

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Functional buildings

Farm buildings are designed to be functional – so different types of farms have different buildings. On a sheep farm the most important building is the shearing shed; on a dairy farm it’s the milking shed. On a cropping farm the implement shed and grain silos dominate – on a horticultural unit, the packing shed does.

As farming practices have changed over the years, the design of farm buildings has also changed.

Brick by brick

The Deans family of Homebush Station in Canterbury set up commercial brickworks at Glentunnel in 1870. The station’s large shearing shed, stables, seed-cleaning barn and free-standing water tower were all built of brick in the 1870s.

Building materials

Early farm buildings were made from a variety of different materials, often depending on what was at hand. Timber was widely used, but where it was scarce, farm buildings were usually built from local stone, cob (a mixture of mud and straw), concrete and – in some places – bricks made on the site. From the 1860s, galvanised corrugated iron was imported as a building material. Initially it was used for roofing, but soon external walls were also clad with corrugated iron.

Most modern farm buildings, including woolsheds, implement sheds, haybarns and milking sheds, have a steel or wooden frame, with the roof and walls clad with corrugated iron.

How to cite this page:

Robert Peden, 'Farm buildings - Uses and materials', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 April 2024)

Story by Robert Peden, published 24 Nov 2008