Energy-efficient barns traditionally were barns that were well insulated.
The primary cost factors in poultry farming were considered to be feed
costs and chick costs, not energy costs. But now farmers are facing
a situation where energy costs may double in the next few years.
"We really started to focus on energy costs about three years ago,
particularly when we had the threats of rolling blackouts in the summer
months," comments Bill Revington.
Figure 1. Bill Revington is General Manager of Farm Operations
for a large commercial poultry producer. The company recently built
two new 26,000 square-foot barns housing 6,500 birds each.
When Bill and his company built two new barns in 2004, they decided
to use two-stage infrared tube heaters and dimmable T-8 fluorescent
tube lights, and to try out curtain-sided dual ventilation which uses
both natural and mechanical ventilation. So far they have been impressed.
They know that the savings are there and that the air quality in these
new barns is significantly improved.
"We used to see significant condemnations due to airsacculitis," Bill
says, "since birds are very susceptible to getting dust lodged in their
lungs which in turn causes infection. The respiratory system of a bird
is not well serviced by its immune system. This situation is greatly
improved in the new barns with dual ventilation and improved air quality."
Figure 2. These images show a dual ventilation barn with
open side curtain walls that provide natural ventilation and light,
and mechanical chimney fans that provide only minimum ventilation in
While younger birds need a warm environment, older birds can suffer
from heat stress. In the new barns, Bill and his company have seen a
marked reduction in heat stress and airsacculitis, resulting in a lower
bird mortality rate.
For ventilation, they have traditionally used side wall fans, but in
the new barns they are using chimney fans for ventilation in winter
and using natural ventilation in summer. This combination has worked
out very well."
Figure 3. This traditional barn has side wall fans and
relies completely on mechanical ventilation and lighting.
To heat the barns, they use infrared tube heaters. The heaters work
by radiating infrared heat down to the birds' level, making the birds
feel warm while also heating the floor area directly. They have not
measured these efficiencies, but they do know that there are cost savings
and that this type of heat source more easily provides an appropriate
environment for the birds. Natural gas savings of 10 to 30% have been
achieved in other infrared tube applications compared to forced air
heating systems. It is expected that similar savings will be possible
in these barns.
Figure 4. Shown in this photo are (A) infrared tube heaters,
(B) sealed fluorescent lighting, (C) photocell lighting control and
(D) chimney fan. Photo courtesy of GVA Lighting.
In the new barns with side wall curtains, photocell sensors detect
how much supplemental lighting is needed and control it through an electronic
digital dimmer system. This new lighting system has replaced the intermittent
lighting system which would not work with the side wall curtains.
"In the two new barns we use a premium quality tube fluorescent lighting
system which is more expensive to install but much cheaper over the
long run when compared to incandescent lighting systems," comments Bill.
This high-quality electronic lighting system does not flicker even
when dimmed. Flickering really bothers birds, and conventional fluorescent
systems do not turn on when dimmed.
Within their operational structure, Bill and his company have built
two new barns with distinct environmental benefits for the birds, and
they have chosen to install systems which will provide energy savings.
The total annual electrical savings from operating a dual ventilation
barn with tube fluorescent lights versus a traditional mechanical barn
with incandescent lights is 38,400 kW-h per barn. This represents a
66% reduction in electrical energy use - or a savings of about $3,800
saving per year for each barn.
Figure 5. Annual Lighting Load
The use of T-8 fluorescent lighting fixtures versus incandescent lights
with both systems on standard timers provides annual savings of 7,060
kWh. This is a 53% electrical savings. The combined energy and demand
savings is about $1,500 per barn. A payback of less than four years
is achieved when accounting for the additional reduction in lamp replacement.
The annual savings in operating a photocell lighting control using
T-8 fluorescent lights versus operating the same lights on a standard
timer is about 3,400 kWh or $340 per barn. This represents a 55% electrical
energy savings with a payback of under three years.
"It is a huge cost today," comments Bill Revington, "to superimpose
the risk of rolling blackouts on top of everyday risks. It makes more
sense to reduce your dependency on energy. We focused directly on the
primary uses of energy in our operation - ventilation, lighting and
heating - to decrease our energy costs."