Signs of poor ventilation in sheds: What should I be keeping an eye out for?

It’s well-documented the importance of good ventilation within livestock sheds and the issues that can arise if there is poor ventilation within housing facilities and the impact this can have on an animal’s performance.

Hugh Rooney, a drystock advisor with Teagasc, spoke about common signs of poor ventilation, the importance of it in terms of animal performance, and also how it can help to prolong the life of a shed.

Here’s what he had to say: “The recent cold spell, followed by wet conditions, will have tested how good the ventilation is in cattle sheds.

“Good ventilation in buildings is required for the health and performance of livestock. Ventilation provides fresh air and removes heat and moisture generated by the housed livestock.

“It’s this moist warm air that carries viruses and bacteria and needs to be removed from the shed(s).

“Good ventilation can also extend the life span of the building as there will be less condensation, gases and dust, all of which corrode building materials.”

Signs of poor ventilation include:

  • Condensation;
  • Cobwebs and dust;
  • Stains and drips on purlins;
  • Wet bedding;
  • Low lying draughts;
  • Respiratory problems in livestock.

“Housing in Ireland is generally ventilated using the stack effect. The stack effect works with the livestock producing heat that rises and leaves through the outlet.

“This creates a vacuum and pulls in cool air from the outside. This continuous cycle provides good ventilation but can be affected in the following ways [below].”

  • Small inlet or outlet space;
  • High roofs;
  • Adjoining buildings blocking the inlet ventilation;
  • Dust and cobwebs building up or blocking the inlet or outlet space.

“Good ventilation will help to improve animal performance and also to extend the life of the building. So keep an eye out for signs of poor ventilation and correct it.”