Are your buildings ready to house cows again?

Published 24 September 09

Make low cost changes now and you can make a real difference to your cows' environment through the winter months. That's the message from DairyCo extension officer and housing specialist, Richard Davies.

"Temperature and ventilation are one area where you can make a significant difference to your housing, and it doesn't have to involve major remodelling," explains Mr Davies.

"Natural ventilation is the least troublesome, most efficient, and least expensive system to provide the best environment within buildings. You're aiming to provide a continuous stream of fresh air to every animal at all times of the day and night."

One of the most important features is adequate provision for hot, stale air to leave, because it's when this air exits that fresh air is drawn in.

"Approximately two thirds of the buildings I see don't have adequate ventilation," says Mr Davies, "and it tends to be on the outlet, getting rid of the stale air, that there's a problem.

"There are a few basic rules when looking at humidity and outlets. The flatter the roof, the harder it is to ventilate. It's often odd-shaped buildings, lean-tos or buildings whose use has been changed to housing, where problems are found.

"If you follow the correct safety procedures, creating more outlets for stale air to leave is a cheap and effective way to improve ventilation.

"As a useful rule of thumb there should be 5cm of ridge opening for every 3m of building width.  Fans can have a place in the ventilation of large, multi-span or unusual shaped buildings, but they are an expensive and often unnecessary option for smaller spaces.

"Ensure there is adequate inlet ventilation. As a guide the inlet should be twice the area of the outlet, and check all gutters and downpipes to ensure they're not bringing extra unnecessary moisture into or around the buildings.

"Finally, if you are considering putting up a new building be sure to think about ventilation carefully at the planning stage to make sure you're getting the inlet and outlet functioning as you need them to from day one."

DairyCo's Dairy Wizard has a practical programme to help you establish your building needs, to order call 02476 478695 or email publications@dairyco.org.uk. If you need further practical advice regarding ventilation then please contact DairyCo on the number above.

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Date 24 September 2009