A barn is an agricultural building primarily located on farms and used for many purposes, notably for the housing of livestock and storage of crops. In addition, barns may be used for equipment storage, as a covered workplace, such as threshing. The word barn is also used to describe buildings used for uses such as a tobacco barn or dairy barn. Byre is an archaic word for one type of barn meant for keeping cattle.
The word barn comes from the Old English bere, for barley (or grain in general), and aern, for a storage place—thus, a storehouse for barley. “Another word for ‘barn’ in Old English was beretun, “barley enclosure” (from tun: ‘enclosure,’ ‘house’, or beretun (barton), also meaning a threshing floor. However, the common English name for a grain storage building now is granary.
Modern barns may include a stable, from Latin stabulum ‘stall, fold, aviary’ (literally “a standing place,”), byre (‘cow shed’, from bower which is from Old English bur— “room, hut, dwelling, chamber,” from Proto-Germanic *buraz (cf. Old Norse bur “chamber,” Swedish bur “cage,” Old High German bur “dwelling, chamber,” German Bauer “birdcage”)…”, or stall, “…place in a stable for animals,” from Old English steall “place where cattle are kept, place, position,” and Proto-Germanic *stallaz (cf. Old Norse stallr “pedestal for idols, altar,” Old Frisian stal, Old High German stall “stand, place, stable, stall,” German Stall “stable,” Stelle “place”.
In the U.S., older barns were built from timbers hewn from trees on the farm and built as a log crib barn or timber frame, although stone barns were sometimes built in areas where stone was a cheaper building material.
In the mid to late 19th century in the U.S. barn framing methods began to shift away from traditional timber framing to “truss framed” or “plank framed” buildings. Truss or plank framed barns reduced the number of timbers instead using dimensional lumber for the rafters, joists, and sometimes the trusses. The joints began to become bolted or nailed instead of being mortised and tenoned. The inventor and patentee of the Jennings Barn claimed his design used less lumber, less work, less time, and less cost to build and were durable and provided more room for hay storage. Mechanization on the farm, better transportation infrastructure, and new technology like a hay fork mounted on a track contributed to a need for larger, more open barns, sawmills using steam power could produce smaller pieces of lumber affordably, and machine cut nails were much less expensive than hand-made (wrought) nails. Concrete block began to be used for barns in the early 20th century in the U.S.
Modern barns are more typically steel buildings. From about 1900 to 1940, many large dairy barns were built in
northern USA. These commonly have gambrel or hip roofs to maximize the size of the hay loft above the dairy roof, and have become associated in the popular image of a dairy farm. The barns that were common to the wheatbelt held large numbers of pulling horses such as Clydesdales or Percherons. These large wooden barns, especially when filled with hay, could make spectacular fires that were usually total losses for the farmers. With the advent of balers it became possible to store hay and straw outdoors in stacks surrounded by a plowed fireguard. Many barns in the northern United States are painted barn red with a white trim. One possible reason for this is that ferric oxide, which is used to create red paint, was the cheapest and most readily available chemical for farmers inNew England and nearby areas. Another possible reason is that ferric oxide acts a preservative and so painting a barn with it would help to protect the structure.
With the popularity of tractors following World War II many barns were taken down or replaced with modern Quonset huts made of plywood or galvanized steel. Beef ranches and dairies began building smaller loftless barns often of Quonset huts or of steel walls on a treated wood frame (old telephone or power poles). By the 1960s it was found that cattle receive sufficient shelter from trees or wind fences (usually wooden slabs 20%