28th February 2024

What does good ventilation in your calf sheds look like?

Respiratory infections have an ongoing influence on productivity, as the disease results in 14.5% of dairy heifers failing to make it to first lactation[1].

Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) is particularly associated with poor ventilation, as it spreads between calves which are sharing the same airspace.

The impact of air quality, draughts and humidity in youngstock housing can majorly influence the level of BRD present.

Without adequate ventilation, dust and gases build up and can irritate the mucous membrane in a calf’s respiratory tract, making youngstock more susceptible to bacterial infections and diseases.

Ensuring adequate ventilation helps calves thrive from a young age and supports their long-term productivity as dairy cows by:

  • Controlling moisture levels and preventing the spread of pathogens as high humidity allows bacteria and viruses to thrive
  • Providing fresh air to calves, reducing their exposure to dust, pathogens and other particles in the air, helping to prevent respiratory issues
  • Regulating the temperature in the shed, keeping calves comfortable and removing excess heat and moisture to maintain healthy conditions
  • Removing harmful gases and improving air quality, which supports calf health and development
  • Improving hygiene by regularly replacing stale air while also helping to remove odours and other contaminants

What does good ventilation in calf sheds look like?

Good ventilation in calf housing should aim to maintain a dry, fresh environment and reduce the incidence of respiratory diseases.

You can use smoke pellets or bombs to visualise stale pockets of air and demonstrate how air is moving. An anemometer can also be used to measure airflow in the shed.

Galebreaker have an expert team who can come onto your farm and support you to find the best way to improve calf shed ventilation. For more information on how to book a consultation, click here.

Watch how a smoke test is conducted.

Watch our vlog on how to check your ventilation.

Here are our top tips for optimum ventilation in calf housing:

  • Airflow should reach calves at 0.25m/s at a height of 1.2m from the floor to keep air fresh without draughts
  • There should be at least 6-8 air changes per hour to remove moisture, dust, and pathogens from dirty air
  • There should be an exit in the roof of the housing for dirty, hot air to escape
  • Fresh air intake points should be at least 1.5m high to avoid draughts
  • Moisture levels should stay below 60% humidity to prevent pathogen growth. Deep straw can help to absorb moisture from the calves
  • Temperature should be kept above 5°C, with extra bedding if colder

How can a Positive Pressure Tube Ventilation system improve ventilation?

A Positive Pressure Tube Ventilation system, like Galebreaker’s VentTube Fresh, can help to improve ventilation in calf sheds by:

  • Gently pushing fresh air into the building in a regulated manner to provide consistent ventilation without draughts
  • Evenly distributing fresh air near calves at the optimal 0.25m/s speed
  • Circulating air without causing draughts that could chill calves due to the tube design controlling airflow
  • Reducing humidity below 60% and removing moisture, dust and other particles that pathogens thrive on
  • Regulating the temperature in the shed year-round to keep calves comfortable while removing excess heat and moisture.

By precisely delivering fresh air replacement, Galebreaker’s VentTube Fresh can significantly improve air quality, hygiene and welfare in calf housing.

To find out if VentTube Fresh is right for you, call our office us on 01531 637900.

[1] Brickell, J.S., McGowan, M.M., Pfeiffer, D.U., Wathes, D.C. (2009) Mortality in Holstein-Friesian calves and replacement heifers, in relation to body-weight and IGF-1 concentration, on 19 farms in England. Animal 3, 1175–1182