Ventilation in livestock housing
Ventilation in livestock housing
The need for animal housing to provide a comfortable, clean, dry and healthy environment is well understood.

The control of the internal atmosphere, in terms of temperature, air quality and moisture content, is arguably the most important consideration when designing a new building for livestock due to the impact that this has on animal health and welfare. The provision of adequate ventilation is an essential element of this design process, since clean fresh air regulates temperature and removes excess moisture from the building. The design of the building, including its location, geometry and cladding, has a major impact on the effectiveness of natural ventilation and, consequently, on the performance of the building as livestock housing.

At this point, a distinction needs to be made between a well-ventilated building and a draughty one. Ventilation is the supply of an adequate flow of fresh air in a controlled manner, either by natural or mechanical means. A well-ventilated building will supply the correct amount of air to the correct location and ensure that stale air is removed from the building. By contrast, a draughty building is one that lets in cold air whenever the wind blows, causing discomfort and potentially ill health to the occupants. Care needs to be taken to ensure than measures intended to provide ventilation do not inadvertently result in draughts, such as incorrectly locating air vents so that cold air blows directly on the animals. This article aims to provide an overview of the main factors that contribute to a well-ventilated building and some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Temperature and overheating

The main source of heating in animal housing is the livestock itself, although solar gain can also contribute to the total heat energy in a building, especially through windows or rooflights. The heating effect from the animals can best be controlled by ensuring that each animal has sufficient space and that there is adequate ventilation to remove the heat (see below). Solar gain can be controlled by careful design of any glazed areas of the building envelope, including in-plane rooflights, to ensure that the correct balance is achieved between the benefits of natural daylighting and the risks of overheating.

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October 2019