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Better Lighting, Ventilation May Boost Milk Production
Better lighting and ventilation in dairy barns may be the easiest and lowest cost way to boost milk production, say farmers and re-searchers involved in a two-year Minnesota study.
It's funded by a central Minnesota power cooperative with input from University of Minnesota ag engineers and local electricians. Retrofitting three dairy barns with energy-efficient fluorescent lights and more air intakes and fans began earlier this year and was completed by spring.
One of the farmers involved, Terry Greenwaldt, milks 90 Holsteins with aver-age production of 21,000 lbs. near Henning, Minn. "Cleaner drier air alone is bound to help with overall herd health," he says.
Greenwaldt removed four 30-in. ceiling fans in his 1971 free-stall barn and replaced them with air intakes, three 24-in. fans in walls, three pit fans, and replaced incandescent lights with energy-efficient fluorescent light that are set to turn on for 18 hours and off for six.
Likewise, Allen Schroeder, who milks 70 to 75 Holsteins with 22,000 lb. average production near Fergus Falls, Minn., added extra air inlets to his 60-cow tie-stall barn. He put in an additional 20,000 cfm summer fan and three winter fans, plus replaced all incandescent and fluorescent lights with newer energy efficient fluorescents.
Schroeder's cows are already consuming 3 lbs. more dry matter per day, he estimates conservatively.
That translates directly to increased milk production, notes Dr. Gerald Beehler, an Elbow Lake veterinarian who's monitoring herd health in the study. Improved body condition after calving can mean improved breeding and shorter calving intervals, he adds.
Beehler expects dry matter consumption could increase to 5 lbs. per day per cow, boosting milk production anywhere from 5 to 16 percent.
Drier, less dusty barns from improved ventilation benefits producers in three ways, he says.
First, because it's drier there's less incidence of mastitis. Second, there's less respiratory disease. Third, there's improved cow comfort. (Excerpted from the Pioneer Journal, Wadena, Minn.)

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1996 - Volume #20, Issue #6