Ventilation problems with ESF gestation housing

In the past 2 months I’ve worked on new breed-wean projects and done ventilation audits on breed-wean sites with ESF feeding stations and large pen housing. A common problem with the ESF stations and the large pens (165-275 females/pen) is wet and slippery floors in the common traffic areas.

A major reason for the wetness is ceiling inlet location relative to the traffic areas and inlet adjustment. Both of these problems worsen in cold weather when the ventilation system is operating at or near its minimum.

Inlet adjustment problems occur when inlets aren’t closed tight enough to attain 800 fpm inlet velocity. Air from the inlet ‘dumps’ into the pen under the inlet and doesn’t mix well enough to dry the floor in the pens. The solution for many sites is to add inlet clips so some of the inlets can be ‘locked’ shut while still allowing the ventilation controller to move inlets in response to fans ramping up in speed as outside temperatures warm. Depending on how the inlets are located, you may also be able to operate 2 inlet zones in the controller so you only move 50% of the inlets in cold weather with the other 50% remaining at 0% open until stage 4 or higher of the ventilation system.

Inlet location problems occur when the main traffic pattern is directly under the inlet – it is really tough to get air movement in this traffic zone when operating at minimum ventilation. In existing facilities producers have added stirring fans parallel to these traffic zones. If you are considering adding stirring fans, go with variable speed fans so you can reduce air velocity in winter. It doesn’t take much air movement to keep these high traffic zones dry. Then in summer you can increase velocity to aid with cooling.

For new construction, review the equipment installers proposed inlet location relative to where air needs to be directed to keep these zones dry. If you have a mix of stalls for weaned females and pens for females confirmed pregnant, take a very close look at the location of the inlets over the stalls. Equipment installers will tend to make everything uniform in spacing/location in a gestation room and you may need to locate inlets at the crates in different locations (I like having the inlets along the headgate aisle) to get the best conditions in this part of the facility.

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