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The environment in which livestock are housed influences youngstock health significantly. Quite simply, good building design promotes better animal welfare and reduces disease costs.

Unfortunately, many UK livestock buildings are not fit for purpose. Around 50% of livestock housing in Britain is not able to provide adequate ventilation.
Good building design takes account of the need to control three key environmental parameters: air speed, moisture and fresh air. Cattle buildings should maximise ventilation potential on a still day without exposing livestock to elevated air speed when the wind is blowing.

Air speed

Air movement in a building is essential. Adequate movement brings fresh air in and removes moisture, heat and gases. However, too much air movement is counter-productive and draughts at young animal height should be particularly avoided.


All livestock produce moisture in their breath, urine, faeces and sweat. Good building design prevents moisture build-up through sound drainage and manure management.

Excess moisture is highly undesirable because it:

  • increases the risk of bacteria and virus survival
  • increases the risk of dirty water transmitting infections
  • increases the requirement for bedding
  • reduces ambient temperatures

Damp buildings generally feel cold. But in warm or hot weather, dampness can be used beneficially to cool down livestock and buildings.

Fresh air

Fresh air facilitates the removal of heat, moisture, dusts, gases and micro-organisms from livestock buildings. It is also very effective at killing pathogens.
A lack of fresh air in a building is sometimes indicated by the smell of ammonia.

For further information:

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1. Livestock housing expert Jamie Robertson. Livestock Management Systems Ltd.

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