Expert Insights

Increase Cow Comfort with Often Overlooked Methods

Proper cow cooling and comfort are essential for increasing milk production in your herd as they can eliminate costly heat stress and poor air quality. VES-Artex's Key Account Manager, Joel Hornby, suggests that negating poor air quality and heat stress is preventative so long as dairy producers purposefully orient their barns. Dairy producers must discuss how to improve air quality and reduce heat stress before laying out the dairy site. What makes the most sense for where to put your exhaust and inlet fans? Where will your parlor and the holding area be based on airflow? How will you calculate and control the inlet once it’s being built and installed?

Hornby says, “Work with the wind as much as you can,” and we couldn’t agree more.

What Are the Common Ways to Increase Cow Comfort?

There are some common methods to negate heat stress and increase cow comfort in your herd, and you may already know and utilize them:

  • Remove barriers to create effective cow-side velocity
  • Provide 5 mph of cow-side velocity
  • Utilize feedline soaking systems
  • Utilize high-pressure fog where and when applicable
  • Provide plenty of clean drinking water
  • Provide an appropriate stall size
  • Protect from the sun
  • Provide an insulated roof

What Are Some Overlooked Methods That Increase Cow Comfort?

We will discuss four overlooked details that may increase air quality and decrease heat stress. While some of these details don’t seem advantageous, it’s essential to consider the culmination of these methods to save your facility from rising temperatures and poor air quality.

One commonly overlooked detail in a dairy facility is manure flumes. Hornby suggests closing off flumes to the outside air and canceling them as a preferred inlet to prevent poor air quality in your facility. Instead, consider your curtain system is set to the optimal height to increase your facility’s air quality.

The second commonly overlooked detail regarding cow comfort is connecting links or common locations for short-circuiting, which often deliver air from the holding areas. What can you do to negate this issue? You can isolate the area with a door, use fresh air injection to cancel the link as the preferred inlet, or build a link at the end of the inlet.

The third commonly overlooked detail for increased cow comfort is using sealing strips. Don’t throw them away! They have value in your facility. Instead, use them to control where the air goes in the facility.

Lastly, the fourth commonly overlooked detail to increase your herd’s comfort is the holding area exhaust location. You don’t want noxious, humid, and warm air in your facility. Holding area air has the second worst air quality on the dairy, with manure processing areas as number one. If this air must be exhausted towards other building inlets, we suggest using deflector kits to minimize the amount of contaminated air potentially entering another barn.

Joel Hornby says, “Cows need fresh air. It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that we design the facility so that they have the most fresh air possible.” Although there are common ways to ensure cows are comfortable in any facility, there are still many details that often get overlooked. Here at VES-Artex we strive to create a consistent animal-centered environment and increase cow comfort as efficiently as possible to optimize animal well-being and drive operational efficiency for the dairy. Be sure to check out the webinar with Joel Hornby to learn more details on how to build a better barn.

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