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Stable design with an architectural model and pv solar panels

How to design a stable with a BIM model for download

How to design a stable: guidelines for technical experts with European standards, architectural design criteria, a project example complete of DWG files, renders, 3D BIM model and the design of a photovoltaic system

In this article we’ll be seeing how to correctly design a stable for cattle, addressing both practical and theoretical technical aspects. Beyond the architectural design, we have chosen to consider also the need for energy and we have realized the design of a photovoltaic system. It was calculated by the production of sustainable energy obtained with the housing of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the stable.
We will also provide you with a complete example produced with a professional software for engineers and architects including DWG drawings, renderings and a photovoltaic system project.

You can start off by immediately downloading the free trial version of Edificius, the architectural BIM design software and the project drawings available below.


Loose housing barn render – produced with Edificius

Download the 3D BIM (.edf file)

Click here to download Edificius, the architectural BIM design software

European legislation in the livestock sector

The normative impositions concern the following aspects:

  • environmental impact;
  • animal welfare;
  • hygienic-sanitary quality of the productions;
  • worker health and safety.

As evidence of the importance of building in the livestock sector, it is important to remember that the majority of indications and parameters reported by European directives and regulations on animal welfare refer to purely building aspects (housing systems, minimum farming areas, environmental control of shelters, feeding and watering systems, types of flooring).

To regulate the design of a stable they also provide different national, regional and local rules, which guarantee a correct way of operating, considering the various factors that revolve around this structure.

Types of cattle sheds

As a starting point it is useful to distinguish the two main types of animal housing facilities:

  1. Fixed cattle sheds
  2. Loose housing husbandry

In fixed cattle sheds, the animals always occupy the same area and are tied to a rack. Indicated for a maximum of 35-40 animals, historically been the most used solution. With the arrival of new feeding techniques, milking, removal of dejections, it has gradually been replaced with Loose housing; today it is still used in mountain areas for small farms.

The Loose housing is the form of relaying more widespread. The main characteristic of this type is that the cows are free to move within the delimited spaces, sized to guarantee greater comfort and better hygienic conditions.

Let’s have a look at designing a Loose housing husbandry.


B-B cross-section produced with Edificius

Stable design: criteria

Orientation and distance from other buildings

The orientation of the stable has an important role in determining the microclimatic conditions that will be present inside.

As a general criterion, a free stall should preferably have aneast-west orientation.


  • limits the exposure to solar radiation of the enclosure elements (curtain walls, window frames, roofing) and therefore the overheating of the shelter.
  • favors the natural ventilation inside due to the difference in temperature of the two long walls (the hot air in the south tends to rise calling air for depression from the north wall).
  • avoids direct irradiation of the housing areas of the animals, a contrasting aspect if to be used as resting area facing west.

Shape and dimensions of the building

With the spread of free stables, there has been a progressive simplification of the building envelope or, to limit construction costs, and to favor the natural ventilation of the shelter.

The supporting structure is always of the beams and pillars type, with the use of prefabricated products made of steel, wood or reinforced concrete. It is very open and often has no fixed infill (especially on the long sides), with provision for light removable or height-adjustable curtain walls, such as nets or shading sheets or windbreaks made of plastic.


Cows manger render – produced with Edificius

It is always preferable to have a high slope (25-35%) with thermal insulation and a central ridge dimensioned and provided with a protective dome. In this way, air is promoted in the different seasons of the year and animals are protected from the radiant heat coming from the roof in summer.


The ventilation of a stable must be designed and calculated. The natural ventilation is facilitated by a continuous slot ridge, in the stables with a gabled roof, and by large perimeter openings.

In Loose housing husbandries, the waiting and feeding area for milking are critical points where the installation of fans becomes a priority.


The floor of the stables is an element of great importance for the welfare of the animals.


A-A cross-section – produced with Edificius

It should be non-slip, non-abrasive, with no sharp edges, not too hard, easy to clean, durable, long-lasting and economical; already from this list it is clear that the optimal floor type does not exist, some of these features are in strong contrast with each other.


A stable project for dairy cattle

In farms where cattle are bred, the barn or stable, is the company’s production center.

The classic structures of cattle breeding generally consist of:

  • stables for animal shelter (including infirmary and delivery room);
  • uncovered exercise area (this area may sometimes be absent).

The ancillary rooms at the barn can be:

  • rooms for storing food and beds (barns, silos, haystacks);
  • feed mill, or a room used for the preparation of feed;
  • premises for collecting and storing products (milking parlor, milk room);
  • facilities for the storage of animal excrements (manure or slurry).

To best develop the design of a stable for dairy cattle it is necessary to understand the functions that characterize the structure.


stable exterior render – produced with Edificius

Common design elements

Apart from the typology, in the project of a stable for dairy cattle there are several common design aspects:

  • minim height: depends on the equipment that must be used within the spaces; normally it is 3.00 m although a minimum height of 4.50 m is recommended
  • side walls: if the depth of the rooms is four times the height of the eaves, the side walls must be open
  • toilet facilities: among all the activities present within these structures, services must also be provided for personnel, such as toilets, changing rooms, showers, etc., which are arranged in such a way as to guarantee a separate “dirty/clean”, Thus ensuring a sanitary filter.

panoramic render – produced with Edificius

Project for a stable for free housing cattle

The stable in free housing is made up of different areas: feeding, resting, milking, exercise (paddock), all connected to each other.


floor plan- produced with Edificius

Feeding area:
  • width 3.50 – 4.00 m
  • length 0.70 – 0.80 m/head

The feeding area consists of the feeding lane and the feeding lane, intended for the passage of mechanical means to allow food distribution. Generally speaking, the two areas are separated by a concrete wall separated by a rack. The flooring can be grilled, in cement or in beaten earth.

Rest area:
  • with bunks, approximately 3.00 to 4.50 m² / head
  • with permanent litter, about 6-8 m² / head

The resting area must be constructed in such a way as to guarantee maximum comfort to the animals.

The sleeping area with bunks guarantees the highest level of well-being, economy and hygiene: it reduces the cost of the litter, ensures greater cleanliness and avoids the trampling of the udder.

Sleeping area with bunks, dimensions:
  • length (variabile per razza allevata) 2.40 – 2.50 m
  • width 1.15 – 1.20 m
  • anti-advance bar  0.60 – 0.70 from the wall
  • floor slope  1 – 1.5 % towards the service lane

The bunks can be distributed in:

  • two tiers of bunks separated from the exercise lane (‘rump’ animals’)
  • two orders of opposite bunks (animals ‘head to head’’)
  • three orders of bunks, two on opposites sides and one with a single order.

The permanent litter resting area is the more elastic solution than the couchette solution.

Exercise area:
  • in concrete, 3-6 m²/head
  • in beaten earth, straw, other , > 10 m²/head (recommended 15-20 m² / head)

The exercise area is represented by external enclosures and is the area where the cow can move freely and dedicate herself to rumination.

The available surface varies depending on the type of flooring: the tendency is to create an area paved with concrete near the stable and an area in the outer ground: the first would be used in the winter period, the second in the summer.

The barn is completed with the milking area. This is an area composed of: waiting room, milking room, milk room, engine room.

The first room, where the animals stop before milking, is sized according to the number of animals present inside.

Waiting room: 1.30-1.50 m²/head

The milking room, on the other hand, relates to the type of technique you want to use:

  • in tandem, 60-70 m² per year 20-25 heads/h
  • herringbone pattern, from 40 to 180m² per milk 30-60 heads/h
  • carousel, from 120 to 200 m² for milking 80-120 heads/h

The milker pit must be approximately 1 meter below the floor of the milking stations to ensure an ergonomically correct position for the operator.


Milking parlour render – produced with Edificius

The dimensions of the milk room and of the engine room are defined by the number and size of the planned machinery.

Project for a cattle barn: a practical example

The example that we have been working on is a stable for dairy cattle, free housing and with permanent litter.


stable areas – produced with Edificius

  1. Personal Services
  2. warehouse
  3. Pedestrian path
  4. Milking area
  5. Engine room
  6. Feeding area
  7. Feeding lane
  8. Cows moving lane
  9. Exercise area
  10. Rest area


The stable is spread over an area of ​​approximately 3,200 m² which mainly contains the functions intended for cattle.

The internal organization was designed by providing, in the most external areas, the feeding lanes in which the food for the animals is distributed. Towards the inside the feeding area has been provided; as in the previous area, also in this the flooring was designed in concrete.

The exercise area was covered with straw as the adjacent area intended for rest.

The central part is a lane that allows cattle to leave the structure to reach the external areas; on the right side there are also areas intended for animals that are no longer productive: dry boxes, steaming up boxes, delivery boxes and infirmary boxes.

At the head of the building we position the area used for milking (with relative waiting area), the staff area (with bathrooms, changing rooms and showers) and the warehouse.

This project of a stable is completed with those we have defined common elements:

  • the compost heap and the slurry tank were designed in the northern area, opposite to the milking;
  • in the east area the machinery deposit and the silo have been placed;
  • in the west area barn and haystack.

Photovoltaic calculation

The project has a plant of around 140 KW of power, composed of 432 modules and 2 inverters. The panels are positioned on both sides of the stable roof with east-west orientation. Every detail is addressed in the photovoltaic system design file available also for download.

Dwg and models to download


how-to-design-a-stable-working drawing-software-architettura-bim-edificius

working drawing – produced with Edificius

The following section is dedicated to the free download of technical documentation files and produced projects, and of the software used to carry out this design.

Download the 3D BIM model ( .Edf file format) of a stable project

Download the IFC model of a stable project

Download the DWG CAD drawings of a stable project

Photovoltaic system project

Solarius PV BIM 3D model photovoltaic system stable

3D model of a photovoltaic system – produced with Solarius PV BIM


Download the complete project (file .srlp2) of the photovoltaic system

To open the complete photovoltaic system project you can use Solarius PV free for the first 30 days.

Click here to download Solarius PV, the software for photovoltaic systems design that has already been used for thousands of different PV installations all over the world