DCHA Tip of The Week

November, 27, 2013

INDOOR CALVES NEED FRESH AIR IN WINTER, TOO

PrintIn a few short weeks, winter will officially arrive – though it may
already feel that way, depending on your geography. In naturally
ventilated calf barns, cooler weather can tempt calf caregivers to
“batten down the hatches,” so-to-speak, when it comes to ventilation.
However, this can be dangerous to calf respiratory health.

Ken Nordlund, veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin, is a strong
proponent of improving ventilation in individual calf pens in naturally
ventilated calf barns. According to an article in the November-December
issue of _Bovine Veterinarian_, Nordlund has observed that individual
calf pens in these barns – even well-ventilated structures – can become
“badly polluted microenvironments.”

In fact, research by Nordlund and colleagues has found that airborne
bacteria counts in individual pens inside naturally ventilated barns can
be “dramatically higher” than levels elsewhere in the barn. Granted,
most of the bacteria species they’ve isolated are non-pathogenic.
However, field studies have shown a relationship between airborne
bacteria counts and bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in naturally
ventilated barns.

Nordlund has assisted with the design and use of positive-pressure
ventilation tubes in naturally ventilated barns. The goal of these
systems is to provide a continuous, gentle supply of fresh air to the
calf without creating a chilling draft.

Reducing levels of airborne bacteria at calf level is critical in indoor
calf barns. It can do a world of good in decreasing the risk of
respiratory problems in your calves.

To learn more about using positive-pressure ventilation tubes in
naturally ventilated barns, read “A breath of fresh air” [1] in the
November-December 2013 issue of _Bovine Veterinarian_. Or, see “Tube
ventilation” [2] at Dairy Herd Network.

Dairy Calf and Heifer Association | P.O. Box 1752 | Madison, WI 53701
855-400-DCHA | info@calfandheifer.org | www.calfandheifer.org [3]