fans in freestall

If June temperatures are anything to measure by, it looks like this summer is shaping up to be another steamy one.

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, last month was the hottest June on record. This was particularly true in the milk wagon states of California and Wisconsin. California notched its third warmest June ever while Wisconsin’s average temperature was 2.1°F warmer than June 2015.

Hopefully, farms are managing heat stress and have seen few impacts from the warm weather. Realistically, though, some farms may be struggling.

In a recent Kentucky Dairy Notes article, Jeff Bewley reminded producers to take a look at the barn fans to ensure they are moving air most effectively to cool cows. He says to check these five areas for lost opportunities.

  1. Fan inlet placement. Careful attention must be given to placement of fans so that the inlet is not against a wall or opposite airflow. Ideally, natural airflow blows wind through the fan and onto the cows.
  2. Fan angle. Bewley suggested that fans be angled between 15 and 20 degrees. This inclination minimizes the chance of creating dead spaces where no air flows.
  3. Fan maintenance. Don’t be a victim of lost efficiency from dirty fans. This takes planning, effort, and the right type of equipment. Bewley said fans can be cleaned periodically, and fan belts should also be replaced when needed.
  4. Fan placement. Bewley stated that fans located too far apart are another critical error he sees in freestall barns. Cows will not utilize areas of the barn that don’t have good air movement.
  5. Too few fans for freestalls. “A row of fans should be present for each row of freestalls,” Bewley shared. Additionally, the distance between fans should be no more than 10 times the diameter of the fan.

The most important tip Bewley can offer producers in relation to fan care is to ensure they are running. “It may sound simple, but this is often a major opportunity,” he said.

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The author is an associate editor. She covers feeding and nutrition, youth activities and heads up the World Dairy Expo Supplement. Maggie was raised on a 150-cow dairy near Valley Center, Kansas, and graduated from Kansas State University with degrees in agricultural communications and animal sciences.