In truth, more often than not, it’s just certain areas of buildings with stagnant air that simply need a ‘helping hand.’ For many farmers it’s a natural instinct to seek a sophisticated and expensive system, when in fact it’s just as effective to find a simpler and more affordable solution.
The ethos between the farmer, who knows his livestock and sheds like the back of his hand, and the engineer who is designing the ventilation solution is key. The farmer identifies the problem, the engineer finds the solution. For instance I will often ask the farmer questions such as, where are the cows bunching? Or, are the cows standing on their bedding panting or lying down?
Let’s look at the issues of livestock sheds. Imagine the spokes of a wheel. One of these spokes represents the environment, feed, another is water, and then there is bedding and breeding. To get the best out of the animals all these spokes have to work together throughout the animal’s entire life.
America is often cited as a good example of ventilation practice. However the UK environment does not match the climatic conditions of certain farming areas of America. Many dairy farmers ask me about factored cooling and suggest they “need to get a misting system.” At present our climate doesn’t quite warrant it. You will not get the same temperature reductions. It’s an expensive system to install and when relative humidity is down to the levels to make it work, it’s only going to be effective for one or two weeks of the year. In short, it’s a large potential outlay with a long payback.” Obviously the poultry industry is very different.
Modern dairy farming demands more bespoke solutions based upon the many individual environments that are evident in different sheds. Many issues need to be factored in to find a good solution such as: farm location/orientation, topography, stocking density, natural air movement, use of skylights, and problems caused by the siting of robot milkers.
Solutions need to be designed to meet the specific needs of each farm. My advice to farmers is to find a supplier/engineer who you can trust and avoid being seduced by expensive and unnecessary systems which place added strain on ever tightening margins in the dairy industry.