Beef farmers should use this time to access whether or not their sheds are working, according to Charles Chavasse, Area Veterinary Manager with Zoetis.

Speaking at a recent weanling information evening, Chavasse said that improvements made to the winter housing can lead to an increase in animal performance over the winter months.

“There are creative ways of adapting the building, but you can’t do it when the cattle are inside,” he said.

Now is a good time to look at your sheds as alterations are straight forward this time of the year.

The Zoetis representative said that fresh air is important for the well-being of housed animals and a flow of fresh air helps to reduce the disease burden the animals face.

He said that an outlet of 0.1m2 is required for each weanling housed in a shed to allow for a sufficient amount of fresh air to circulate.

However, he stressed that the shed should be draught free and the air should be coming in over the weanlings backs at a height of six foot to stop them getting chills.

“Ideally, it needs to be sealed, you want solid walls and solid doorways. You don’t want a draught coming underneath the gate or even coming through a gate,” he said.

Chavasse said plenty of fresh air is needed in cattle housing to sweep out the bad bugs and bacteria, which will be beneficial for the performance of cattle.

“The other good thing about fresh air is that it has a disinfectant quality,” he said.

He also said that farmers should look critically at the air outlets on their sheds, as poor performing outlets can have a negative impact on animal performance, as the hot air simply rises and falls back down on the cattle.

“So the air is not changing, you just have the bugs going around in a circle,” he said.

However, he said that there is a relatively cheap solution to this problem.

By pulling the side sheeting of the shed out by 3-6 inches, he said, the air outlet can be increased substantially which allows for clean air to circulate.

But, he said that it is important that the sheet hangs down over the wall to prevent draughts from occurring in the shed.