UK - A livestock housing consultant has warned beef and dairy farmers that 50 per cent of farm buildings are not fit for purpose.
This is the message of Jamie Robertson, a research consultant for Livestock Management Systems Ltd. He then added: “And new buildings now being erected are not much better.”
At a meeting held at Park House Farm, Heversham in South Cumbria under the auspices of DairyCo and EBLEX; Jamie Robertson led the farmers attending around the farm’s buildings and comprehensively deconstructed them, pointing out problems and offering solutions.
With a tape measure constantly in one hand he repeatedly referred farmers to the Eblex Pneumonia MOT which is available on line for free download.
The pneumonia MOT is a step by step guide designed to allow farmers to both design new buildings and to pick out the faults in the buildings they already have.
One problem that was highlighted during the farm walk was that modern buildings are bad at allowing the warm muggy air to escape on days without a lot of wind.
Roof vents are almost never large enough. A 400kg bovine needs an outlet area of 0.12square meters, so that a building intended to hold fifty store cattle will need ‘a hole in the roof’ of 6 square metres.
By getting the farmers present to run through the figures themselves, they could see that in most livestock buildings you are better to just leave the ridge open and not cap it at all.
In the course discussion, Jamie Robertson pointed out that none of what he was telling farmers was new. The physics had been known for twenty years or more, and yet, to the growing irritation of those trying to help farmers keep livestock in good condition, the manufacturers of commercial farm buildings seem to have ignored it entirely.
Looking at evidence from around the world, the MOT provides a check list of things the farmer should consider. For the animal it recommends both condition scoring of adult animals and weighing calves regularly to check on growth rates.
These allow the farmer to spot problems earlier, before they become critical. For the building it stresses the importance of bedding, the need for adequate air inlet and outlet areas, and the need to keep an eye on humidity and wind speed.
Top image via Shutterstock