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Build a ventilation and cooling system that grows with you

Adam Hatton Published on 06 November 2014

When building a new facility, it’s tempting to keep up-front ventilation and cooling costs at a minimum. That may seem like a good thing in the short term, but it’s important to consider the long-term cost and benefits of designing a system that goes beyond bare bones and fits your operation’s individual needs, now and as you grow your business.

For starters, why should you worry about ventilation at all when you build? Ventilation and cooling are essential to keeping your dairy cows safe, healthy and productive. The ideal temperature range for cattle is 25°F to 65°F.



When the temperature-humidity index (THI) exceeds 68°F, lactating dairy cows face a decrease in milk production of up to 25 percent, lower reproduction rates and health complications. As THI continues to rise, cows can begin to experience heat stress, with consequences ranging from mild changes in metabolism to potential death.

Mechanical circulation from energy-efficient fans can cool cows down. There are fans on the market to suit the needs of any new dairy facility, including overhead, directional, oscillating and misting. These fan types include both high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans and high-speed fans.

Whatever you choose, make sure you invest in a durable, well-built fan system that will work well for years without breaking down. Contact an expert to determine which fans suit your space.

There’s no need to try to figure things out on your own when there are companies out there ready to help. These experts can help you design a cooling and ventilation system around your needs. Consider your current herd size and future expansion plans.

You should also take Mother Nature into account. What direction will sunlight enter the building? Where will prevailing winds flow through? How is the building oriented in relation to other structures and natural features?


All these questions are crucial when designing the ventilation and cooling layout for your new facility. Cooling and ventilation isn’t just for milking herd production areas. Whether you’re building a barn, calf facility or farm shop, air movement makes a big difference.

For example, one dairy co-owner installed HVLS fans to circulate air efficiently through his freestall barn, milking parlor and compost barn. As a result, his herd is experiencing fewer respiratory problems and a 10-pound increase per head during summer months. The air movement improves overall air quality, sweeps unpleasant odors out of the barns and keeps his herd cool and comfortable.

If this seems like an investment – it is. You’ll be operating this building for decades, so take long-term value into account and keep future needs in mind. Look at your production levels today and ask yourself, “How will things look a year from now? Or 10 years from now?”

Remember that fans aren’t just for creating comfort during the hot season. Fans are also useful year-round, from summer’s sweltering heat to winter’s chill.

Air movement from fans does not lower the actual temperature in a space, but the perceived cooling effect can make a person or animal feel up to 10°F cooler. Operated at slower speeds, a high-volume, low-speed fan can push warmer air, which tends to rise, down to occupant level in the winter.

And air quality is even more important in the winter than in the summer. Closing up your barn to keep the cold out also means shutting in stagnant air. Have you ever stepped into the barn and met the stench of ammonia and urea? That’s the environment your cows are living in all the time. By running fans year-round, you can eliminate concentrated areas of poor-quality air.


Stagnant winter air was a problem at one particular dairy. When staff closed up the barn’s curtains during the winter to retain heat, the barn became uncomfortably stuffy. So they turned to fans for an energy-efficient solution and now the barn remains comfortable year-round.

Proper air movement will make your dairy barn a more pleasant environment for you, your staff and your herd. It can also boost respiratory health and safety and help maintain drier bedding. So consider the benefits of improved comfort and better air quality all year when deciding what kind of ventilation equipment to buy. PD

adam hatton

Adam Hatton
Big Ass Fans