Increased respiratory disease can be a persistent problem in naturally ventilated calf barns in winter. Research on housing calves in naturally ventilated calf barns in winter has identified a few key practices that help reduce respiratory disease:
- Deep, fluffy bedding that covers a calf’s legs, allowing her to “nest” and lose less body heat.
- “Blankets certainly do help keep calves warm, but only if they are clean and dry,” say veterinary experts in The Dairyland Initiative NEWS, Winter 2012. “Wet blankets and bedding result in wet calves that require even more energy to stay warm than a dry calf.”
- A minimal, yet necessary, number of solid dividers (only between calves for preventing spread of disease.)
- Low airborne bacterial counts, achieved by keeping air within the pens fresh and dry. Supplemental positive pressure ventilation tube systems improve air quality in barns at calf level, without creating drafts.
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Source: The Dairyland Initiative NEWS, Winter 2012