Project Overview

Previous research has shown the possibility of improving air quality in commercial barns using both new technologies as well as best management and engineering practices such as oil sprinkling, bedding management techniques, and so forth. However, these measures have not been tested yet in these new high-welfare production systems, wherein the larger area per animal, addition of bedding, and increased animal movement can bring new challenges for applying these strategies for reducing airborne contaminants. The nature of airborne contaminants is also likely to be different in farms with restricted use of antibiotics compared to conventional farms. No robust data is available regarding the changes in air quality in new animal facilities.

This project will evaluate and improve air quality in agricultural settings using standards for animal welfare and, consequently, reduce health risks in Canadian agriculture. From exposure to airborne contaminants of conventional barns, it is already known that workers may develop infections and non-infectious diseases (e.g. lung function reduction, asthma, chronic bronchitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis).

On one hand, the literature and the previous work show clearly air quality deterioration inside barns that have adopted alternative housing practices. Furthermore, the level of contaminant measured in previous research can affect human health. So far, no research has proposed techniques or practices to improve air quality for animal production having adopted new trends in animal welfare. On the other hand, in alternative housing systems, the overall air quality is strongly dependent on the human management of the buildings. In fact practices, ventilation settings, manure and bedding management, etc. have to be modified or revisited. However, producers have no tools or information to change or improve the overall management strategies even for modern well-equipped buildings. These kinds of changes require very little money but could significantly improve air quality in these new facilities.

Aims of Project

This project is based on the two following hypotheses:

  1. The new practices and techniques related to animal welfare will negatively affect air quality and increase health risks for workers and animals.
  2. Newly developed practices and techniques to reduce airborne contaminants will improve the air quality as well as respect animal welfare standards.

The specific objectives of the project:

  1. Evaluate and compare the air quality in commercial poultry, dairy and pig barns both in conventional buildings and in farms implementing the new animal welfare standards;
  2. Determine the best strategies to be applied to protect health in poultry, dairy and pig buildings.
  3. Adapt these combinations for commercial applications.
  4. Evaluate the economic impact of management strategies.

For further information about this project, please contact Program Manager Nadia Smith at 306-966-1648 or by email at



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Year 1

2019 - 2020 Year 1 Update

Year 2

2020 - 2021 Year 2 Update

Year 3

2021 - 2022 Year 3 Update

Year 4

2022 - 2023 Year 4 Update

Year 5

2023 - 2024 Year 5 Update