Dairy Today has never published an issue that focused every feature article on a single topic—until today. This month we take an in-depth look at low-profile, cross-ventilated barns, the newest concept in dairy housing.
This is not the first time that we've written about cross-vents—in fact, our first major story on the subject was two years ago. Since then, cross-vent barn technology and building has swept across the central U.S., from
Texas up the Mississippi River Valley to the Canadian border. Some of the largest barns, with 6,000 cows or more under one roof, surpass $20 million in capital outlay.
In September, Kansas State University hosted a two-day cross-vent barn conference and tour in Sioux Falls, S.D. Producers and dairy industry personnel from just about every major dairy state and Ontario poured in to hear
presentations about the good, the bad and the ugly:
- Cross-vent barns do an excellent job of controlling the cow's environment. They can cool ambient air 20¢ªF to 30¢ªF in summer, depending on relative humidity, and they can keep cows warmer in winter.
- The resulting feed and reproduction efficiency gives these barns a $100/cow (or 50¢/cwt. cost-of-production) profit advantage over other kinds of dairy housing.
- Energy use is the Achilles' heel of cross-vent barns. They rely on the power grid 24/7/365 to keep cows alive.
- Emergency planning and evacuation—for both workers and cows—has to be top of mind every day.
- Cross-vents, with their warehouse appearance, are perhaps the ultimate step toward industrialization of milk production. Explaining this technology to a public that is already lacking in cow knowledge will be a hurdle.
The feature stories in this issue summarize the presentations at the conference. For detailed versions of those presentations and for Spanish translations of our summaries, simply "follow the Dairy Today dot” at www.DairyToday.com.
Learning about this new technology is essential. Even if you don't plan to build a cross-vent in the near future, read this issue to see what you're up against. It might be the best hour you spend today.
Follow this link to Kansas State University''s Web site - Click on Dairy Housing of the Future Complete Proceedings.
Click here to read Dairy Today''s first major story about cross-vent barns written in 2006.