This is a barn:

a large farm building for storing grain or keeping animals in.

enter image description here

In some other countries, we have an area surrounded by simple wooden fences. It may or may not have a simple roof like this:

enter image description here

Do we call the one in the picture 2 a barn?

  • 18
    I would probably call it a 'shelter'. Jun 6, 2022 at 8:06
  • 14
    It might qualify as a "stable". There are various competing definitions. Some define it as a building for storing specifically horses, though others would allow other large animals such as the cows in this case. Some would require that the animals each have their own individual stalls, but others are more lenient. At any rate, stables often are not fully contained, some having only 2 or 3 walls instead of all 4 like a typical barn. Not sure if it would apply to something with no walls like this... Jun 6, 2022 at 15:33
  • 1
    A good word for the 2nd picture would be "cowshed". "Byre" is an alternative, mainly British and rather dated.
    – Chris H
    Jun 7, 2022 at 14:33
  • 1
    That "fence" isn't a fence at all, but rather a wooden embankment to hold earth and create a terraced step, rather than a slope, up to the shelter. Doing this makes it easier for the animals to get to the shelter and helps prevent mudslides/erosion. Jun 7, 2022 at 16:28

7 Answers 7


No, your second picture is not a barn, even if it is used for storing animals, and anything without a roof would also not be a barn. The key feature of a barn is that it is a building, like a house, for storing animals and grain. The building part of the definition is specifically a building that protects against the weather: wind, rain, snow, sun, and so forth.

If the building cannot protect from the wind, rain, sun, and snow, it cannot be called a barn. It would need a different name.

  • 5
    It's probably worth mentioning explicitly that 'protection from wind' implicitly means that a barn must be a walled structure. Additionally, I believe size is also a major factor in the definition of 'barn'... if OP's cow-gazebo had walls one might call it a small stable or shed but not a barn.
    – DotCounter
    Jun 6, 2022 at 17:48
  • 5
    Down voted because the answer "no" is demonstrably wrong and at odds with a significant number of English speakers around the world. Jun 7, 2022 at 6:49
  • 2
    Note that a Google Image search for "hay barn" (or "straw barn") will return a lot of pictures that are open on all or most sides, described as such by the websites - one from NZ, one from England, and one from the USA. The answer seems to imply that the lack of sides makes it not a barn, which is false
    – Chris H
    Jun 7, 2022 at 14:39
  • 1
    A barn can also house equipment, but it does still need a roof and walls to be considered a barn. Jun 7, 2022 at 16:21
  • Please cite an authoritative definition that prescribes structural details for something to qualify as a "barn". I looked up various online dictionaries, and none of them mentioned architectural specifics.
    – Deepak
    Jun 9, 2022 at 10:49

As others have said, no, this does not count under the commonly understood definition of a plain "barn" in English.

However, there is something called a pole barn, for which walls are optional, sometimes called a "top-only pole barn" when being sold as a kit for building on-site:

a top-only pole barn

(These types of structures are more commonly known in the US as "carports" when used for storing cars.)

I think you could call the structure in picture 2 a pole barn, albeit a rustic one.

  • 5
    In other parts of the English speaking world, such as UK, NZ and Australia, these are called Dutch barns, possibly from the proverbial parsimony of the Dutch and the lowered cost of construction due to no walls. Jun 7, 2022 at 6:45
  • 1
    @Smartybartfast And the Dutch wouldn't call that a barn at all. It is called an "afdak" in Dutch. Dak == roof. Af == off (as in "off the side of". Usually afdak is used to indicate some sort of roof off the side of a building (e.g like the roof of a porch or an attached car-port), but it is used for constructs like a pole-barn as well.
    – Tonny
    Jun 7, 2022 at 11:09
  • Ummm, not in NZ or Au. This Aussie hasn't even heard of the term, and notices the wiki article on Dutch barns doesn't include either country anywhere in the text. Also, a lot of the wiki barns have walls.
    – mcalex
    Jun 8, 2022 at 2:33
  • In the US, the term "pole barn" is the structure shown above, but walled in, usually with the same steel siding as is shown on the roof of this one. As a native US-English speaker, I would call this structure a "shelter". Shelters like this one are often found in parks and filled with picnic tables. I would also call the OP's 2nd picture a "shelter". If this is advertised in the US as a pole barn, everyone around me (the middle of the corn-belt) would consider it an "unfinished pole barn" (i.e., they haven't finished building it yet).
    – FreeMan
    Jun 8, 2022 at 15:15
  • @FreeMan, I'm also from the US, but the south rather than the midwest, and we definitely call the picture I posted a pole barn, full stop. Regional quirks are fun :)
    – katiekeel
    Jun 9, 2022 at 22:17

As what RichardWinter has mentioned, this is not a barn at all, and it should be called a "shelter".

The meaning of shelter is:

a place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger

a shielded or safe condition; protection


In this case your picture fits the second meaning.


In the livestock world, the shelter (roof) would be called a "shed" or "run-in shed". The people who manufacture such things commercially call them "loafing sheds".

The small fenced area would be a pen (for all kinds of animals), corral (commonly used in the western part of the US), or paddock (only for horses, more common in the eastern part of the US or in Britain).

A larger fenced area is a pasture (if grassy), field (even if not grassy), or turnout (for horses, probably more commonly used in the eastern US).

  • 2
    Sheds will have walls: sometimes three, sometimes only one, but walls nonetheless. See Google images
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 7, 2022 at 6:25
  • 1
    If I had to name it I would say shelter or shed, as long as it has a roof. It may be a shack.
    – RedSonja
    Jun 7, 2022 at 7:01
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA It's not mandatory, it's just a lot easier them that way for structural reasons and most of the time if you want a roof you also want walls. But you can have no-wall sheds, too, if you really want: industrysearch.com.au/roof-only-hay-shed-15m-x-40m-x-6m/p/… Jun 7, 2022 at 13:37
  • 1
    We always called them "loafing barns" but I would not insist that usage is anything but local. We would not say a "loafing barn" is a "barn" even though it has the word in its name. It's a shelter. It's not a shed because a shed has doors and walls. Jun 7, 2022 at 15:19

Since the roof is optional, call it a "pen"

If it's only used for one type of animal, you can specify: "pig-pen"

  • 4
    A pen has a fixed fence high enough so animals cannot escape. That ramshackle shelter/pole barn does not look like a fence.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 6, 2022 at 21:21
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA from the question: "an area surrounded by simple wooden fences". In the picture you can see the fences. I think the height of the fences isn't important. I'd expect natives to absolutely understand what you mean. And it's what I'd say at least.
    – minseong
    Jun 6, 2022 at 21:33
  • Why do you say the roof "optional"? Without a cover the structure does not protect the animals from the sun or the rain.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 6, 2022 at 21:37
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA The OP specifies, "we have an area surrounded by simple wooden fences. It may or may not have a simple roof". Also, a pen fence needn't be permanent or fixed or even very good. Search "portable horse pen". In the US you could definitely call what is pictured a "pen". Jun 6, 2022 at 22:33
  • 2
    @theonlygusti, that "fence" isn't a fence at all, but rather a wooden embankment to hold earth and create a terraced step, rather than a slope, up to the shelter. Doing this makes it easier for the animals to get to the shelter and helps prevent mudslides/erosion. Jun 7, 2022 at 16:27

Given what it's for, rather than what it's made of or how it's designed, it would be a livestock shade or shade shelter, here are some more high-tech/less sustainable versions: https://www.google.com/search?q=livestock+shade&tbm=isch


To confirm what others have already said, no, it is not a barn.

To add to what others have said. In the U.S. & the U.K. we don't build those regularly enough to have a word for them. You will most likely here us refer to it as shack, or hut, pig-pin, or roof - although none of those nouns I just listed will actually work to describe it.

Its likely that in another area of the world, some distance away from the UK, and the US, they build those (it looks to me like it's created in a rain-forest or jungle). Whatever the word that they use for it, would likely be the correct word to use even in English. Just because a word didn't originate from English speakers, doesn't mean that it isn't the correct word in English. Sometimes the correct word is the word you might already use for it. In such a case, you might have to explain to native-English speakers what something is, because an American, like myself, may not have ever seen anything like it (which is the case here).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .