Preparing your natural ventilation system for winter

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As the summer months give way to winter, we're reminded that even hot weather has an expiration date. It's that time of year when your barn's ventilation system, wide open during the heat, needs a tune-up. As the cold weather rolls in, make sure your natural ventilation system is primed and ready to step up. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your barn is well-ventilated for winter.

Check for mold and mildew

Start your check by manually closing all of the panels or curtains. Closely examine the fabric or the surfaces of the panel/curtain. Your curtains might have hosted some unwelcome guests - mold and mildew. What caused this? Well, if your curtains are snuggled up at the bottom of the sidewall opening, rainwater can find its way into the fabric folds.

Watch out for fabric holes

It's not only tell-tale signs of mold you should watch out for, but tiny holes too. These little holds might be the work of mice hiding in the folds. Do you see any rips or tears in your fabric? This may be a sign that it's nearing the end of its usefulness. It often happens due to prolonged, constant exposure to UV radiation.
If you have a panel system, examine the acrylic or polycarbonate inserts closely. Sometimes, they can become unintentional targets of stray rocks! While you're at it, don't forget to check the condition of your panel seals.  Are they still flexible, or have they grown more rigid with time?
If you need to swap out some system panels or fabric, do this during warm weather. This way, you can leave the sidewall open while working on some repairs. Trust me; it makes the job easier, faster, and way more comfortable!

Do a sidewall ventilation test run

Are you done checking your fabric or panels? Next on the list is to give your sidewall ventilation a quick test run. Cycle it open, then closed. As you do this, keep a sharp eye on the suspension and operating hardware, ensuring everything glides as designed. If you spot any frayed cables, rusty clamps, or bent pulleys, it's time for a change. Just a word of caution: you'll want to finish this before the chilly air of below-freezing temperatures blows in. For those rocking a curtain system with wind ropes, ensure the rope is taut and in good condition, with no signs of fraying.

Inspect the electrical connections

Are you working with an automated system? Remember to inspect all the drive units carefully. Look out for any loose electrical connections or gearbox leaks. While checking the units, remember the golden rule: if it needs greasing, give it a good greasing. Trust me; your system will thank you for it.

Double-check the temperature sensors

Have you ever suspected one of your cows is on a secret mission to snack on those hanging temperature sensors in the barn? You should double-check. A missing sensor could be floating in your cow's stomach.

Remove dust and debris buildup

If your sensors are all accounted for (and not part of a cow's latest meal), great! However, they might still need some maintenance. Dust and debris can build up over time and mess with temperature readings. Give them a nice, gentle clean, and you'll get those accurate temperature reports again. It would help if you now made setting configuration so everything is set as soon as temperatures decrease.

Take proactive measures

During the chilly winter months, ridge ventilation is crucial to your ventilation system. If your setup involves chimneys, it’s critical to properly inspect the damper hardware to make sure everything works as it should. Take proactive measures like removing bird nests near the top of the chimneys or close to dampers to prevent potential disruptions. For those employing a power-operated continuous ridge cover, do a routine check of electrical connections. Also, do the same for your fluid levels to ensure smooth functioning.
Take these simple steps, and you're on your way to ensuring optimal performance. It's all about staying proactive and keeping things running smoothly!
Winter is coming, and you're busy.  I get it. Between operations and everything else, who has time to think about ventilation systems for cattle? But barn ventilation is just too important to ignore.
The good thing is that you don't have to do everything by yourself. You can outsource. Most natural ventilation suppliers aren't just selling you a product; they're handing you a solution. Imagine a team of service and technical wizards ready to review and optimize your ventilation equipment just in time for the winter chill.
I know what you're thinking. "There's a cost to that," and you're absolutely right. But weigh that against the peace of mind you'll get knowing that your cattle will enjoy the ideal environment throughout the winter.

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