A livestock barn requires high-quality, reliable ventilation. No matter the livestock it contains, ventilation is needed to maximize air quality, provide comfort, and protect the animals from illness and disease.
When ventilating your barn, you have several ways to do so. The key is to consider all the factors and decide the correct way to approach barn ventilation, whether natural or mechanical, such as barn ventilation fans.
Here is how to ventilate a barn using these systems, along with a few other key tidbits of information someone interested in barn ventilation should probably know.
Natural ventilation is also referred to as passive ventilation. It is a very simple and hands-off form of ventilating a barn. It uses the force of wind circulating through building openings to move out stale air and bring in fresh air. From ridge vents to open sidewalls, rollup doors, and other openings, natural ventilation allows for easy air circulation.
Advantages of Natural Ventilation
No electricity involved with natural ventilation makes it a more affordable option than running an electrical system. There is also a lot less upkeep with natural ventilation as it simply knows where to fit in the correct openings within the framework of your barn. Nothing will break down. There is no maintenance required.
Disadvantages of Natural Ventilation
Moderate climates are where natural ventilation works best. Anything more than a mild summer, and you might have trouble creating enough air circulation purely through natural ventilation.
Use Active Ventilation
Active ventilation, also known as mechanical ventilation, uses fans to control and regulate moving air within the barn. Active ventilation is required to keep your livestock comfortable when the outside temperatures are hotter than the inside of the barn.
Advantages of Active Ventilation
Have more control within the barn over airflow. Better control the temperature and be able to adjust the temperature fairly quickly if it’s needed.
Disadvantages of Active Ventilation
Any active ventilation system requires electricity to run. This means cost. As it’s machinery, you may occasionally experience maintenance and, albeit rare, system break-downs that require quick solutions if you’re reliant upon an active ventilation system.
Types of Active Ventilation
Several types of barn fans can be used to ventilate a barn. These include ceiling fans, air inlets, exhaust fans, and portable fans. A barn exhaust fan is the most prevalent among farms.
Hot air rises. This is key to understanding ventilation and temperature because you can use barn design features, such as vented ridges and/or vented eaves, to allow hot air to escape, which can help your ventilation.
Be careful; some barn design features do not mix well with others and can minimize ventilation. Gable vents are known to not work well with ridge vents, for example, and will not allow optimal ventilation.
How to Use Positive Air Pressure
When you come to use active ventilation, and you start installing barn ventilation fans, there are three types of air pressure that you can use to do the job. The first is positive air pressure, which pulls air from outside the barn using fans. This is most often done in barns where the doors remain open for livestock to enter and exit at will. However, for this to work, the barn must otherwise be airtight.
How to Use Negative Air Pressure
Negative air pressure, by comparison, uses exhaust fans to push air outside the barn. It uses air inlets to allow cool air to flow inside. If you use negative air pressure, ventilating a barn will involve matching the air inlets to your exhaust fans to ensure the outside air is mixing with the inside air. When the barn doors remain shut for part of the day, a negative air pressure system will outperform positive air pressure and is considered the better way to ventilate.
What to Do with Neutral Air Pressure
Neutral air pressure combines barn ventilation fans, some drawing air in and others exhausting it. This type of system will push air through a duct system using a single fan while multiple others concentrate on pulling air out of the barn. Neutral air is more expensive to maintain as it requires more ventilation fans, increasing your electrical and maintenance requirements.
How to Know If Your Ventilation System Is Working
A simple temperature gauge will tell you whether you are adequately controlling temperature or your ventilation system is not working. There may be other signs of poor ventilation.
Moisture build-up. Lumber decay. Poor animal health. These are all signs that airflow and air exchange are not yet to the standard they should be. If you notice these signs, investigate and correct your barn ventilation system operations.