It’s Time to Think Winter!
Winter is here and hopefully you had time to look at facilities and equipment well before the arrival of its cold, wet and winds! The goal is to provide the best possible winter environment for your livestock. Here are a few things to keep in mind as winter progresses. Many small dairies still use tie stall barns. These buildings provide nice, comfortable working conditions for you during cold weather, but those same conditions may be detrimental to the cows. Without even talking about ventilation rates, all equipment needs to be in proper working condition. Fan blades should be clean for easy airflow. Louvers designed to prevent cold air inflow can also restrict warm, moist air exhaust if they are dirty, bent so they don’t open, or blocked in any manner. Make sure fans are cleaned, so the motor will run cooler and more efficiently. A dirty fan may have its airflow capacity reduced by 40%.
Proper ventilation is almost more about air inlets and air distribution than it is about exhaust fans. Especially for winter ventilation, air distribution needs to be uniform around the dairy barn so dead air spots with high moisture content don’t develop. Air inlets come in a wide range of designs. It makes little difference what system you use as long as it provides sufficient air distribution throughout the barn. Be sure air passages are not blocked by dust, feed, collapsed ducts or dead critters that have collected over the seasons. Winter ventilation in any dairy barn is all about keeping the air as dry as possible. While warmer air does hold more moisture, it is not enough reason to close the building up to keep it warmer. That extra moisture in the air is what causes many respiratory problems. A minimum number of fans and air inlets need to be operating at all times to keep moisture moving out of the barn. To prevent some problems with air restriction, continuously running fans should have louvers taken off. If the louver isn’t there, it can’t get dirty and slow air exchange. Continuous fans don’t need thermostats, but other types of fans are usually on thermostats to turn them on as needed. Contact points in thermostats corrode easily when they aren’t being used regularly. Check that all thermostats are clean and their contacts are working properly. Replace thermostats that simply won’t work after routine cleaning.