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Fresh Air To Fight Pneumonia

10 November 2009

UK - Speaking at a recent DairyCo ventilation event, Jamie Robertson said that fresh air is one of the best antivirus agents there is.

Cases of calf pneumonia can have a huge cost to the dairy herd, with data showing that the average loss for a treated calf is £75. “But I’m convinced there is much we can do to prevent it,” says Mr Robertson. “It’s not about large capital investment, although there will be a cost associated with your time, but practical things you can do to your sheds that will make a real difference.

He told the crowd that when it comes to good building ventilation and reducing calf pneumonia there are three key things to bear in mind; moisture, fresh air and air speed. If you get these right not only will you provide a healthy environment for your cattle, they’ll also have a positive effect on mastitis and production.

“You want to reduce the amount of moisture in cattle accommodation as bugs thrive on moisture," Mr Robertson said. "Think about putting sand under calf bedding to lock moisture into the bedding. Make sure farm yards drain rain water away from calf housing, put in a simple drain if you need to. Maintaining all gutters and downpipes is a sound investment."

He said that respiratory disease is spread by air particles. In five minutes 97 per cent of respiratory virus particles are dead in normal fresh air conditions, but in a muggy environment they can last ten times as long.

“Getting the balance between enough openings in a shed to draw in fresh and push out stale air and excluding harsh weather means you need to consider options such as covered openings in roofs and space or Yorkshire boarding, or side curtains,” said Mr Robertson.

Air speed is also important as drafts cause stress to animals. “Drafts will really hammer the calf’s immune systems,” explains Mr Robertson. “It’s not such a problem for loose housed calves as they will get out of the draft but if they are penned and can’t get away from the weather you will notice that they really suffer.”

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