Barn fans have become one of the standard animal husbandry practices we use today. However, it’s understandable to ask whether barn fans can perform the vital function of keeping your animals cool.
The answer may surprise you: barn fans usually make little difference in the temperature for your animals, and they can actually make it hotter. Therefore, while barn fans have many important purposes for your animals, cooling is not one of them.
Barn fans, like other types of fans, don’t even cool the air; they just move it around. A University of Kentucky study confirms that fans have little impact on the air temperature in a barn. Comparing no fan to a fan mounted in the eaves (a ceiling fan), the temperature in the barn was about the same – more than 2° F hotter than the outside temperature.
When researchers attempted to use box fans to direct air either into or out of the stall, the temperature was even hotter – about 3.5° F above outside air temperatures. The study concluded that “without an active air conditioning or evaporative cooling system, it is not possible to truly cool a barn or stall with a fan.”
On the other hand, fans can sometimes provide cooling even if they don’t cool the air. They do this by moving air over the body, which allows body heat to enter the air directly, or via the evaporation of sweat or other surface moisture (such as mud from wallowing).
To do this, fans need to move the air at about 150 feet per minute for cooling horses and 200 feet per minute to cool cattle. (Humans can notice a cooling effect with air speeds of as little as 100 feet per minute.) However, this study showed that none of the fan configurations created significant air flows capable of cooling animals. At best, a tiny area exceeded the minimum airspeed for cooling horses.
So what is the purpose of a barn fan if it doesn’t do very much to cool animals? The main effect of barn fans is to move air through the barn so that your animals’ air doesn’t get too stale. Ideally, there should also be a fan to exchange air with the outside so that the air in the barn can turn over on a regular basis.
For this reason, it’s still a good idea to keep fans in your barn. However, if you want to genuinely keep your animals cool, you need to add an active cooling solution, such as an agricultural evaporative cooler.
If you’re looking for a true solution that will help your animals stay cool, a Portacool might be your best solution. Portacool portable evaporative coolers are a powerful approach to providing cool air to your animals. Portacools can provide enough air to cool a 16-horse barn using nothing more than electricity, water, and outside air.
The high level of air a Portacool can supply means that they can play the role of providing fresh air to the barn even while they’re cooling it. This is unlike air conditioning units that don’t drive enough air to perform the function of primary ventilation. Meanwhile, Portacools use less energy than an air conditioner would to achieve a comparable level of cooling.
For convenience, you can order the 16-horse size (Jetstream 270), the 8-horse size (Jetstream 260), the 4-horse size (Jetstream 250), or the 2-horse size (Jetstream 240). Of course, we can’t guarantee that the people at your local or online retailer will be up on their conversions, so make sure you have the model number.
Have more questions about using Portacool on your farm? Contact us online for details or to make a bulk order.