Moisture management crucial for cow wellbeing

Moisture management is the key to providing cows with the most healthy environment and it is equally critical where new accommodation is being built for expanding herds.

Speaking to delegates at Penrith Auction Mart, Cumbria, Jamie Robertson of Livestock Management Systems said: “It’s incredible that building regulations are so concerned about how a building looks and yet no building would be turned down because it had inadequate ventilation and cows were suffering as a consequence.”

He pin-pointed moisture, fresh air and air speed as the three primary considerations of providing cows with a healthy indoor environment.

When he asked the audience if anyone could honestly say they had no broken down-spouts or gutters on their cow buildings, no dairy farmer could give an affirmative response.

“Water from broken gutters and down-spouts coupled with water from leaky rooves and badly drained buildings is creating wet and warm atmospheres inside many cow sheds. And there’s nothing bugs like better than wet and warm.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that 50% of all cow buildings are not working properly for the cow and she is suffering. They aren’t creating an environment that is conducive to the animal, but negative to the pathogen.”

Dr Robertson said providing correct ventilation was the biggest problem facing farmers with expanding herds.

“Too much moisture supports microbial activity, promotes microbial growth, absorbs energy and increases the slipperiness of floors putting cows under stress when moving around.”

He urged dairy farmers to prioritise ventilation and to check existing buildings. “As a guide the area of air inlet must be twice the area of air outlet. One square metre of outlet is needed for every adult animal, so for every 200 cows it’s necessary to have 200sq m of outlet. Inlet and outlet areas are best provided by a series of diffuse openings along the ridge and walls.”

Read more articles from the Dairy Herd Expansion Conference:

People are the real key to growing dairy businesses

Expansion not always solution to upping dairy profits

More cows don’t always equal more money

Farmers urged to consider herd health before expansion

See more