Ventilation is a very important part of any livestock facility. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a lactating cow shelter or a newborn calf shelter – efficient air flow is of paramount importance. Why is so much emphasis being placed on fresh air though?

Livestock needs a constant source of clean and fresh air. The high dust concentrations, pathogens, manure gases, and moisture levels present in a livestock facility have a lot of adverse effects on these animals. Unventilated or poorly ventilated barns adversely affect milk production and quality.

Heat Stress in the Barn

Heat stress is yet another problem brought forward because of poorly ventilated barns. So much so that the signs of heat stress on livestock productivity and physiologies have been established quite a while back.

The first signs of heat stress will start becoming visible at about 20 degrees when animals will actually begin breathing fast and sweating profusely. What’s more, you may also see the milk yield decrease by almost 10%. Researchers have also found that heat stress during the period of late gestation has the ability to reduce the birth weight of calves and the subsequent production of milk.

Various studies have proved that dry cows that were provided a shade gave birth to heavier and healthier calves. Even the cows themselves were seen to produce much more milk as opposed to those that weren’t provided any shade.

Other than heat stress, there were some other biological responses to other stress factors. These factors include poor stall design, poor footing, poor ventilation, and overcrowding.

Barn Planning

The livestock facility should have a ventilation system that prevents high levels of humidity in the winter and build-up of heat during the summer. Partitions and free-stall fronts should be designed in a manner such that they are open enough to allow free movement of air.

If you already have a barn, you should be on the lookout for moisture damages and condensation – especially on the roof. Another very common sign of an inadequate airflow is cobwebs. Other than this, you can also pay attention to a few common characteristics of your animals. These characteristics include cows breathing with open mouths, nasal discharges, excessive coughing, and the air smelling of ammonia.

When you run your fingers through your animal’s hair coat, it should be completely free from moisture. If this is the case, then your livestock facility is properly ventilated.