Especially in old barns, at least three sides are often closed in Germany. In combination with dung mattress and low ceiling height in the lying area there is extremely poor air, resulting in respiratory diseases and slow growth in the calves. A new ventilation system shall be the solution. The idea originated in the USA and was adapted to German barn systems. A fan forces air from outside through tubes up to 30 m length. The tubes have small openings to distribute the air throughout the full length of the barn. The hoses, made of washable textile, prevent the formation of condensation water.
The main challenge with this ventilation system is that everything has to fit - there must be enough wind to push the "old" air out but there should be no draught. For this the size, amount and position of the holes has to be perfectly adjusted. Best aim is to change the air in the calf barn four times per hour. In general, a hose system can ventilate a stable width of 7.5 to 9.0 meters. Large holes should be positioned on the edge of the hose to "throw" fresh air further.
Practical experience show that the system can significantly improve air quality, thus it increases calf health and daily weight gain, decreases medication costs. However, the fan must run continuously, which leads to high electricity costs. For new buildings a different ventilation concept is therefore more advisable. The costs are about 5500 € per unit of 25 m length.
It is concluded that such ventilation tubes are a good solution to improve air qualities particularly in old stables. There are also possibilities to combine this with a biogas-based heating for tempered air during the winter season.
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- Socio-economic resilience: The innovation increases the costs for equipment and electricity, which might be outweigh by healthy calves that grow faster.
- Animal health and welfare: The innovation is positive for animal health and welfare and can therefore decrease veterinary costs and / or reduce the use of antimicrobials.
- Production efficiency and meat quality: good air quality is important for healthy calves, healthy calves grow faster and need less labour time.