We all want to work in a safe environment and provide a healthy home for our animals. This is why we have farm structures, which store machinery, equipment, feed, supplies and livestock.
While you need to protect animals from harsh weather conditions and extreme temperatures, often this leads to a barn closed up too tight with no airflow. This can cause many problems like excessive moisture, harmful gases, odours, and even respiratory issues for your animals.
What is the answer? Ventilation. It provides fresh air while managing temperatures, so it is comfortable and cool, and your animals will be healthier.
Not sure how to set it up? This is how to ensure proper ventilation in a barn.
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Barn Exhaust Fans
A barn exhaust fan is a part of your active ventilation system. Their job is even more important for animal health. Ventilation provides fresh air and cooler temperatures, but you must remove stale air and harmful gases like:
- hydrogen sulphide (H2S)
- carbon dioxide (CO2)
- ammonia (NH3)
- methane (CH4)
By removing these gases, dust, and other irritants, your animals have a lower chance of developing respiratory infections. This will improve your livestock’s overall health and productivity.
Remember, ventilation with fans does not directly cool down animals because they don’t create cold air. They circulate, draw in fresh outdoor air, and provide a cooling action for your animals throughout active movement.
This is also known as passive ventilation, depending on the outside wind force circulating through your barn. This is achieved through various openings like:
- Ridge vents
- Roll-up doors
- Open sidewalls
This brings in the natural flow of fresh air to remove ammonia or carbon dioxide build-up and cool the building.
With natural ventilation, no electricity is used or equipment needs to be maintained, so it is more affordable. The drawback is that you depend on wind, which doesn’t always blow, leaving your barn hot and musty.
Natural ventilation designs work best when using cross ventilation. This method forces cool air into the barn through inlets like ceiling baffles, wall louvres, and funnels warm air through roof vents and windows. Cross ventilation constantly renews the air in the building as long as the wind blows, keeping the temperature low.
Mechanical or active ventilation controls airflow with fans, baffles and air inlets. By using ceiling fans, circulating fans and exhaust fans, you can control temperature and air quality better for your animals and workforce.
There are several main mechanical ventilation styles.
Tunnel ventilation creates a steady flow of cool air through the barn by building a wind tunnel. This is achieved by using exhaust fans on one side of the barn to expel warm air while drawing in cool air through inlets on the other side.
Animals can get rid of body heat during the hot summer, but create cold drafts in the winter. It works perfectly in barns with high ceilings.
With positive pressure, you draw fresh air using fans in the end walls, which can be ducted to individual stall beds. This works to lower pathogen presence and reduce respiratory disease in animals. It is most effective when the barn needs to stay open so animals can freely enter and exit but need an airtight structure to work properly.
A negative pressure ventilation system uses exhaust fans to take stale air out, and they are matched with air inlets to distribute cool air inside. You don’t require a tightly constructed building; barn doors can be closed to maximize efficiency. This method forces air out of the structure instead of the positive pressure system that forces air in.
Neutral pressure systems utilize intake and exhaust fans to move air through the structure. Intake is achieved through fans with ducts, and the exhaust fans pull stale air out to maintain a comfortable temperature and high air quality for your animal.
Air exchange rate needs to be considered and is dictated by fan capacity, inlet location adjustment capability and overall design. You may want to consult a professional to set up your ventilation system properly for maximum efficiency and livestock health.
This is how to ensure proper ventilation in a barn. By using one or a combination of these systems, you will dramatically improve the health of your animals as you provide them with a comfortable environment and protection during their stay at your farm.