21st May 2024

Fans vs. Tubes – navigating livestock ventilation solutions

Why effective cattle shed ventilation systems are crucial

Good ventilation is crucial for creating an optimal environment for housed livestock, including dairy cows and youngstock, to maximise their health, welfare, and productivity.

In housing with adequate ventilation, hot, dirty, humid air is removed and replaced with fresh, cool air to create a clean, comfortable environment where animals can thrive.

Under the right conditions, the heat that the animals give off causes air inside the building to rise through a central vent in the roof. This then draws in fresh air through the sides of the building, which is known as the stack effect.

Stack effect

Image courtesy of AHDB

Galebreaker’s weather-proofing mesh screens, like the Rollerscreen or Bayscreen, provide protection from the elements while still allowing the maximum amount of air to pass through.

However, this does not always provide enough air flow to keep the housing cool and reduce the risk of heat stress or harmful bacteria building up.  This is especially true in cattle sheds where the prevailing wind is obstructed, on hot days, or with youngstock, which do not produce enough heat to effectively generate the stack effect.

Mechanical ventilation can help to artificially improve the ventilation and reduce cow temperature but when it comes to fans or tubes, which option is best?

Stack effect with tube ventilation

Effective ventilation can be improved with Positive Pressure Tube Ventilation

Understanding the limitations of fans for effective shed ventilation

Fans are a popular choice among farmers for improving cattle due to their initial low cost and ease of installation. However, a single fan has limited capacity to affect airflow across a whole building.

To achieve an adequate cooling effect, multiple fans are often necessary, which increases overall energy consumption and operational costs. Moreover, rather than drawing in fresh air from outside the building, fans tend to recirculate air from within. This can exacerbate the spread of airborne diseases by moving contaminated air around rather than replacing it.

This increases the risk of livestock becoming infected with diseases which can have a detrimental impact on productivity and farm profitability.

The superiority of positive pressure vent tube systems for cattle shed ventilation

Effective cattle ventilation systems not only support animal welfare but also enhance farm productivity by maintaining a steady flow of fresh, cool air.

Positive pressure tube ventilation (PPTV) systems, like Galebreaker’s mechanical ventilation systems, are long tubes that are fitted along the length of a building, with a fan at one end that sucks in clean air from outside. 

Galebreaker’s VentTube Cool system is designed to push warm, stale air out and bring in clean, fresh air, and at an air speed which creates a cooling effect across the cow. This reduces heat stress by keeping the cattle cooler. Rather than recycling stale air, this system delivers air precisely where it’s needed, directly at animal level. This results in more efficient and effective ventilation compared to standard fan setups.

Economic analysis: Cost-savings with VentTube systems

The financial benefits of implementing a VentTube system is significant. Galebreaker’s research found that replacing fifteen fans with just five VentTubes could save farmers up to £33,000 over three years due to reduced energy usage. This figure included the initial upfront investment in the ventilation system.

Additionally, they found that the reduction in respiratory diseases, like BRD, cuts immediate treatment costs and decreases lifetime costs associated with poor animal performance.

With an estimated initial installation cost of £1,500 per tube and running costs of around £653 per year (£1.79 a day), the return on investment is quickly realised, making VentTube not only a sustainable choice but also a financially sound investment.

Download our Infographic which provides the financial breakdown here.

Conclusion: Why choose Galebreaker’s VentTube for cattle ventilation?

While fans can provide some short-term measures to improve conditions on your farm, optimised solutions like Galebreaker’s VentTube Cool offer more reliable and consistent airflow, maintaining a comfortable cow temperature range within farm buildings.

Monitoring and improving these conditions are essential for livestock health, reducing heat stress and enhancing overall farm productivity.

To find out more about how VentTube Cool can benefit your livestock, contact us for a detailed consultation on 01531 637900.