Ready for Winter?

Dec 13, 2021
Winter is here and the weather is reflecting this seasonal change. How do our bovine friends fare in the changing weather? Two topics of great importance to consider include: ventilation and teat health.

Adequate ventilation all Year Round
It is important to consider fresh, quality air in our housing systems throughout the year, including winter. Keeping the air dry is the primary goal of ventilation during the winter months. Condensation and increased humidity have negative effects on dairy cattle respiration. Increases in condensation that results in water droplets can also contribute to cold-stressed animals if any additional drafts are present.

While we are looking to bundle up during this time, her giant fermentation vat, the rumen, is generating a lot of heat that allows her to stay warm during colder months. Keeping her dry and free from drafts will allow dairy cattle to be comfortable throughout winter and maintain her productivity.

Ideally, facilities should have 4 air exchanges per hour during winter. As in summer, cleaning the air inlets and outlets to allow for optimal movement will allow for easier adjustments of settings during the different seasons. Dispersing air evenly across the barn will also prevent areas where condensation can form. If using curtains, inspect for any holes that might create a draft.

Teat Health
Considerations should also be made for teat skin health during winter when discussing ventilation. Reducing the incidence of dry, chapped, or frostbitten teats is key to her health, reducing infections, and success within the herd. Proper storage of pre- and post-milking teat disinfectants during winter to maintain efficacy is essential to controlling mastitis. Check the storage requirements of your disinfectant to ensure it is stored at the correct temperature. Having a disinfectant that is compatible with teat skin during these months is also important.

Some products include emollients that promote healthy teat skin during winter. Also, if time allows to maintain parlor efficiency, having animals to stand for up to an additional minute post-milking to allow teat dip to dry is beneficial. Blocking wind between the parlor and housing area will also prevent frostbit teats.

Combining effective ventilation and promoting proper teat health during winter will contribute to greater cow well-being.

Paul Mattingly

Eastern Feed Sales Manager


David Cramer

Filed Under: DairyFeed