Farm Profile: Poultry
Improving Poultry Environment and Reducing Energy Dependency

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.

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.

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."

These images show a dual ventilation barn with open side curtain walls that provide natural ventilation and light, and mechnical chimney fans that provide only minimum ventilation in the winter.

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 the winter.

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."

This traditional barn has side wall fans and relies completely on mechnical ventilation and lighting.

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.

Shown in this photo are (A) infrared tube heaters, (B) sealed fluorescent lighting, (C) photocell lighting control and (D) chimney fan.

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.

Annual Lighting Load

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."

 


For more information:
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E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 April 2007
Last Reviewed: 09 November 2009