Poultry Farming category archive

Four Questions Every New Grower Should Ask Their Builder 0



Not all turnkey contracts and turnkey builders are the same. Knowing what to ask the potential contractors bidding on your project helps you avoid additional costs when or if problems occur during construction.




1) Financial Strength.

A typical production site will cost from $350,000 upwards to $2,000,000 or more. For a project costing one million dollars, the builder will need to have the financial resources capable of paying for $500,000 of materials and labor. Also, most contractors will have several projects in varying stages of construction, meaning a typical builder may need a line of credit of several million dollars.


To protect your investment ask the contractor for a copy of their latest balance sheet to assess whether the contractor net worth is adequate for the project. If the builder is uncomfortable providing that type of information to you, require them to provide a payment and performance bond from a reputable insurer. Always consult your lender to determine if they are comfortable with the contractor’s financial condition.


2) Builders Risk and Workers’ Comp.

Unless required by the lender many contractors do not include builders risk insurance as part of their contract. Without this coverage, the owner is liable for any damages to the structure or building materials during the construction process.


The amount of Workers’ Compensation insurance a contractor is required to carry varies from state to state. The main provisions of this insurance should include coverage for any subcontractors working on the project, and this coverage is enforceable in the state where the work is performed. It is not uncommon for contractor or subcontractor’s policy to only apply to their home state.


You should insist any potential contractor provide you with a Certificate of Insurance indicating builders risk coverage for the amount of the contract along with general liability insurance of at least $2 million per occurrence and also listing the states covered by the agreement. You as the building owner may also want to be listed as an additional insured on the policy, so you have the ability to make claims on the policy if the contractor will not. Consider raising the general liability amount to $5-10 million on sow farms and remodel projects as substantial damage can result from work performed on operational farms.


3) Site Supervision

Adequate site supervision is subject to broad interpretation that varies by each contractor. Unless it is a complicated remodel or very large project, it is unreasonable to expect a job supervisor to be on site every day during the construction process. You should, however, expect the job supervisor to schedule frequent meetings with you to review and inspect the work in progress. Also be aware that many contracts do not provide for unloading trucks, dumpster rental, portable restrooms, and site cleanup. Failing to add these items in writing to the contract may cost you thousands in additional out of pocket costs.


4) Production Equipment

When faced with competitive bidding situations one of the methods used by contractors to reduce their price is to change the equipment supplied in the package. It is common for equipment manufacturers to offer special pricing to area builders during an expansion phase. This usually results in the poor installation of unfamiliar feeding, watering and ventilation equipment along with dubious warranty claims later. Ask the contractor to provide you with a list of completed projects with the same brands of equipment specified in the contract.

Protect your investment by requiring bidders on your project to provide you with the correct documentation. This allows you to limit your exposure to financial risk during and after the construction process.






Cool Cell Maintenance | An Engineer’s View 0



“When it comes to evaporative cooling most of the equipment problems we see are failures to do routine maintenance,” explained Tyler Marion, an engineer with Hog Slat Inc. located in Newton Grove, NC. “Evaporative cooling is really a pretty simple concept, but you have to perform basic maintenance tasks to keep the system operating correctly.”



Flush, Don’t Bleed

A standard industry practice involves “bleeding-off” a percentage of the recirculation water to prevent a buildup of scale on the pads. Scale is the mineral deposit left on the pad when the water evaporates. While bleeding-off is better than nothing, a much better practice is to dump all the water from the trough and replenish with fresh water that in turn helps to flush the containments out of the cool cell pads. How often the trough needs to be drained depends on the hardness of the water and how often the evaporative system operates. Monitoring the PH level is a useful method to determine when to change the water with readings above 8.5 indicating an excessive mineral buildup.


Use Preventive Chemical Treatments.

Paired with frequent water flushing, adding descalers and microbicides to the recirculating water pays big dividends in extending pad life. Descalers help keep minerals in suspension for more efficient flushing while microbicides reduce the growth and buildup of algae, bacterial and fungal slimes on the pads.   Never use chlorine bleaches to kill algae. Chlorine attacks the glue in the pads causing delamination.


Adjust the Float.

One of the most common reasons for premature failure occurs when water logged pad bottoms become soft and sag down.   Just because water doesn’t spill out of the trough when the system shuts down doesn’t mean the float is adjusted correctly. When properly set the water level should be 1″ below the bottom of the pads. It is critical to check the water level in new installations after running the system for several days.

Be on the lookout for trough levelness to change as the building settles and the framing shifts. Also, as the pads age, they retain more water making float valve adjustments necessary.


Clean the Trash Out

Trash and debris in the pump trap and water line filters reduce the amount of water circulating through the system. A telltale sign of reduced water flow is dry or streaked pads at the end opposite of the pump. Failing to remove debris from the trash basket on a jet pump also reduces its useful life. Clean the holes in the distribution pipe whenever dry streaks appear on the pad. Open the ball valve on distribution pipe opposite the pump end and run the system to flush out any gunk from inside the pipe at least once a month.


Winterize the System.

Shutting off the water supply and draining the system are the basics for preparing an evaporative system for winter. In addition, remove the pump from the system and move it to inside storage. Just disconnecting the plumbing fittings and leaving the pump in place leads to damaged impellers and cracked housings.


Performing basic maintenance allows evaporative cooling systems to operate efficiently and delays costly pad replacement.






Static Pressure Key to Troubleshooting Ventilation 0



With the summer heat settling in it’s not uncommon for ventilation problems to start showing up in broiler houses and swine gestation/ breeding buildings. Even facilities that have performed well in the past may experience issues.   One of the best yardsticks for evaluating a ventilation system is measuring wind speed. Windmeters ranging from an inexpensive smartphone unit to dedicated handheld devices are used to measure wind speed in feet per minute.


If the wind speed is lower than desired the next step is to check the static pressure with either a portable manometer or on the ventilation control monitor.   With the ventilation system operating at full capacity, the house pressure should be between .05 to .08″. Some broiler facilities will experience higher pressure due to increased air requirements.

If the static pressure is high, the most likely cause is restricted airflow through cool cell pads clogged with scale or algae.


Scale is the buildup of minerals hard water leaves behind as it evaporates during the cooling process. Heavy deposits of scale require the use of a broom to dislodge the debris and then rinsing them off the pad with a low-pressure hose nozzle. The best way to deal with scale is to prevent it from forming in the first place. Adding a descaler treatment to the water helps keep the minerals in suspension and prevents them from sticking to the pad.


Nutrients in the water allow algae to grow and block the openings in the pad. Adding algaecides to the recirculating water kills the algae and prevents it from re-establishing. Allowing the pad to dry completely for several hours each day also stops algae growth.


But by far the most important management practice for cool cell maintenance is to drain and replace the water often. Even with the use of chemical agents, a build up of contaminants occurs in the trough. How often to replace the water depends on water quality and the amount of the time the system operates each day. Once a month is an absolute minimum during periods of heavy use to flush grit and dirt from the system.


If the static pressure is too low, the first reaction is to add fans to increase airflow.   In many cases, especially in buildings where the airflow seemed adequate before, replacing the fan belts and/or pulleys will restore proper air flow.   Slippage caused by worn belts and pulley cause fans to be less efficient and air delivery to suffer by as much as 20%. Plan to replace all fan belts on an annual basis with the metal pulleys needing replacement about every four years.   A visual check after installing new belt should show the belt riding high in the pulley groove. If the belt sinks into the groove, then the pulley should be replaced.


Routine, scheduled maintenance on fans and evaporative systems is fundamental to providing broilers and pigs with adequate cooling during hot weather extremes.


By Austin Baker
Ventilation Director
Hog Slat Inc.




Dim-to-Blue® Lighting for Optimal Broiler Production 0



While LED lighting can bring broiler poultry growers significant energy savings, AgriShift® Dim-to-Blue® lighting offers more than being an environmentally friendly option. What makes AgriShift® Dim-to-Blue® technology uniquely beneficial, is that it is designed to influence and direct certain processes, recreating the best possible environment for your animal. New developments in LED lighting can now provide a customized light spectrum, intensity and photoperiod control for broiler environments. The utilization of this advanced LED lighting in broiler facilities can bring performance benefits, resulting in increased broiler production and improved animal welfare.


Three characteristics of lighting should be considered when designing a lighting system: 1) light spectrum or color of the light, 2) intensity of the light, and 3) photoperiod or the amount of time the lighting fixtures are on each day. In the past, lighting systems (incandescent, fluorescent or high-pressure sodium lamps) had fixed color and intensity, with the only controllable variable being the length of exposure. With ONCE® AgriShift® Dim-to-Blue® technology and lighting systems, it is possible to control all three key characteristics.



Research shows that a typical chicken views a light source much differently than a human eye would. For instance, the graphs below show that humans and chickens perceive green light similarly, but chickens have enhanced sensitivity to reds, blues and ultraviolet light. Additional research has shown that different wavelengths can be used to enhance various aspects of development. For example, green light increases growth during the early stages of development by enhancing proliferation of skeletal muscle satellite cells, which repair and build muscle. Blue light is helpful in the growth and sexual development of poultry at a later age by elevation of plasma androgens, allowing the bird to put on more muscle mass. Combined green and blue light promotes myofiber growth due to more effective stimulation of testosterone secretion.


By organizing individual LEDs to activate at predetermined voltage levels, it is feasible to implement a color-shifting technology, which is the foundation of AgriShift® Dim-to-Blue® lighting products for broilersAfgriShift-range

AgriShift® Dim-to-Blue® lighting systems shift the spectrum to mimic a natural sunrise and sunset. With no dimming, the system produces a full light spectrum, ideal for stimulating growth when beginning a chicks growth cycle. As grow out continues the lighting is gradually decreased to 30%, shifting the range from blue to green to promote muscle growth. When the system is fully dimmed (also known as moon lighting), the monochromatic blue is used to calm the birds at night or before catching.


Using ONCE® AgriShift® Dim-to-Blue® technology and lighting systems allow broiler farmers an environmentally friendly lighting option that not only saves on electrical costs but also improves animal welfare and increases broiler production. To learn more click Dim-to-Blue®.

Ensure Farm Biosecurity with Key Cards 0



The introduction of a contagious disease to a farm represents a severe economic impact on a flock. Contaminated clothing, equipment, and footwear remain one of the primary causes of bird exposure to disease-causing organisms. Managing traffic should be a top priority on your farm to prevent the introduction of disease.

This advanced biosecurity system operates much like key cards utilized in hotels. Electronic door latches are installed on entrance doors or traffic gates and connected to a Maximus card reader. Presenting an authorized card activates the door lock solenoid.


Maximus scanner and ID card used at a farm entrance gate.


Each user is assigned a tag or card and completes their profile by adding an email or phone number. The type of access given to each card controls entry to production facilities; this can range from limited to full access. For example, you can grant permission for employees working a weekend shift access to the buildings only on Saturday and Sundays between 5 am to 2 pm.


Every site or building has a designated health status. The owner operator then establishes a health protocol for personnel to follow. An example of a health protocol or rule would be to deny access to a “clean” site for 48 hours after visiting a “dirty” site.   Trying to enter a “clean” site before 48 hours results in denied entrance. The system sends an email or SMS, explaining the reason, to anyone denied access.


Doors can be remotely unlocked to allow access to specific visitors, such as veterinarians and service techs that do not have a card.



Screen showing the access history to the farm site.


The system also provides a history of the activity for all sites. After selecting the time range to view, the operator will see the username, the tag number, location of the reader used, the date/time reading of a card, the status (if the user was allowed access) and the reason for the denied access.


The same card is also used to enable access to the Maximus house controller. For instance, a particular card may permit the user to view the screen but not make adjustments, while another level of permission might only allow a farm worker to enter the number of eggs collected or record the number of deads picked up.