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Blog posts tagged with 'poultry ventilation'

Ag Evaporative Cooling Systems Compared - Part 3, Pumps & Sumps
Most commercial broiler farms utilize an evaporative system to provide cooling during hot weather.  Although there is no substitute for regular maintenance and cleaning, choosing the right system can reduce repairs.  We compare several key features of Hog Slat's Evap System against competitive brands.

Most commercial broiler farms utilize an evaporative system to provide cooling during hot weather. Although there is no substitute for regular maintenance and cleaning, choosing the right system can reduce repairs. In part 3, we compare  pump and sump tanks options for Hog Slat’s Evaporative System.

The jet pump system has several advantages starting with an open drip proof; air cooled motor that does not have to operate in water.  Repairs are less expensive because a jet pump has two components, the motor can be replaced separately from the impeller assembly.  Repairs are easier with a jet pump as the assembly is above ground, and you don't have to pull the pump out of a sump like a submersible pump to perform repairs. The strainer basket protects the impeller assembly from debris.

The jet pump system has several advantages starting with an open, drip proof, air cooled motor that does not have to operate in water. Repairs are less expensive because a jet pump has two components; the motor can be replaced separately from the impeller assembly. Repairs are easier with a jet pump because the assembly is above ground, and you don’t have to pull the pump out of a sump tank like a submersible pump to perform repairs. The strainer basket protects the impeller assembly from debris.

 Side discharge design delivers high volumes than competitors center discharge pumps so water reaches the ends of long pad runs.  3/4 hp pump is available in 115 or 230 models.

Side discharge design delivers higher volumes than competitors center discharge pumps so water reaches the ends of long pad runs. 3/4 hp pump is available in 115V or 230V models.

The Hog Slat pump is specially designed for cool cell system application and not just adapted from other industries.  Re-designed vortex impeller results in lower head pressure and higher volume, the result is an efficient 1/2 hp. pumps with the same output as normal 3/4 hp. submersible pumps.

The Hog Slat submersible pump is specially designed for cool cell system applications and not just adapted from other industries. Re-designed vortex impeller produces lower head pressure and higher water volume, resulting in an efficient 1/2 hp pump with the same output as normal 3/4 hp submersible pumps.

The Hog Slat tank design does not require it to buried in the ground like conventional T-Tank sumps.  On systems where trough height determines an above ground installation the tank will set directly on a concrete pad. For below ground installations, the Evap System tank features a molded lower lip with a rounded profile to help prevent it from "floating" out of saturated ground when the tank is empty.

The Hog Slat sump tank design does not require it to buried in the ground like conventional T-Tank sumps. On systems where trough height permits an above ground installation, the tank will set directly on a concrete pad. For below ground installations, the Evap System sump tank features a molded lower lip with a rounded bottom profile to help prevent it from “floating” out of saturated ground when the tank is empty.

See Part 1, Troughs

See Part 2, Pad & Fasteners 

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Increased Ventilation Rates Pay Dividends

As every chicken grower knows, hot weather takes its toll on performance. Feed consumption and daily gain are difficult to maintain when temperatures reach and remain in the high 90s and above. Tunnel ventilation increases bird comfort resulting in improved performance. So is any type of tunnel ventilation good enough? Is there a return on adding fans for increased air speeds above the industry 550 fpm standard? Mike Lucariello, a Tyson grower from Wheaton, MO has a unique perspective on the question. Several years ago Mike remodeled six) 40’x400’ broiler houses to company specs including insulating the north side of the houses and adding insulated curtains to the south side. Fan power was increased to create a system capable of generating wind speeds of 550 feet per minute. Performance was excellent and his farm’s closeouts routinely ranked at the top. Last year Mike built two new 55’ x 600’ drop-ceiling houses. These houses feature improved side and ceiling insulation, energy efficient 52” Windstorm fans, Gro40 brooders and Tego tunnel doors. The wind speed in the new houses was calculated at 700 fpm. The first group was placed in these houses in February and the performance and energy use was excellent. The real test came this summer. A flock was placed on June 22. For the next six weeks the area experienced very hot and humid weather with temperatures staying in the 90s and moving into the 100s on a few occasions - the kind of weather that hurts bird performance and causes mortality to increase. The flock was caught and processed on August 2. Mike is on a competitive contract with Tyson so his performance is compared with other farms for the same week. These were excellent results especially considering that was an averaged total, (with 141,000 of the birds coming from the old houses and only 96,800 caught out of the newer houses with improved ventilation). Birds from the new house averaged 4.08 lbs. vs. 3.81 lbs. from the older houses. We would expect similar differences in Feed Conversion and Average Daily Gain. Another thing to consider is these are small birds... big 8 lb.+ birds would benefit even more from increased air speeds in the 700 fpm range. This winter is the time to take a look at retro fitting your existing ventilation system, especially if you have or are switching to big birds. Put a call in now to your local Georgia Poultry sales rep. They’ll visit your farm and help you put the cost of the retro together... it will pay big dividends in the heat next summer and put money back in your pocket.

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Evaporative Cooling System Checklist

Tunnel Ventilation systems along with evaporative pad systems are effective at reducing summer temperatures in swine and poultry buildings. Here are some tips to keep your houses running at peak efficiency.

1) Bleed off water to control mineral content

As water is circulated and evaporated in a pad system the concentration of minerals is increased.  This is especially true in areas that have hard water with its higher levels of dissolved minerals. It is suggested that 5% to 10% of the circulated water should be continuously bled out of the system. Alternatively you can also dump and replace the sump tank water weekly. Products such as Scale-Stop or Cool-N-Kleen Cool Cell Descaler can be effective in controlling scale buildup for farms with very hard water when coupled with bleed off.

2) Check pH

Desired pH level of the water should be between 6 and 9.  The pH levels outside of the this range shorten pad life by leaching out the stiffening agents in the pad. You can alter the pH of the water by adding one of the descaler agents listed above or Grower Select’s Kool-Cell Kleen.

3) Eliminate dry spots on the pad

Dry areas on the pads allow uncooled air to enter the building.  Simply put,  if the pad’s not wet it’s not cooling. Dry streaked areas on the pad are a clear sign that you have clogged holes in the distribution system.  Remove the cover and unstop the clogged holes in the header system.  It is a good practice to clean the distribution system by opening the ball valves and flushing water through at least once a month.

4) It’s a pain…but you have to clean the filters

Install a spin down water filter with a clear housing and 60 mesh screen on the system and keep it clean. It will prevent clogged distribution pipes and dirty pads. The poorer the water quality the more often the filters need to be cleaned. Installing a filter with a ball valve will simplify the chore.

5) Prevent algae growth

Although H2PADs are treated with an fungicide and come with ProTech edging to prevent algae from adhering to the pad surface, this does not completely eliminate the problem.  Treat the system  water with a good preventive product like Bio-Stop or Grower Select’s Kool-Cell Kleen to keep algae under control. In addition,  the pads should be allowed to dry out once every 24 hours to improve the longevity of the pad.  Program your ventilation system to allow the fans to continue to run awhile after the pad system is turned off at night.  This will pull air through the system, drying the pads out and killing any algae spores.

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Yuppie Hill Poultry

Yuppie Hill signThe Lein family’s start in the egg business began with 12 hens back in 1999. Those hens provided eggs for the family as well a few neighbors and friends.  Visitors to farm thought the hens had it so good they referred to them as “yuppie chickens”.  When Lynn started direct marketing eggs she adopted the brand name, Yuppie Hill Poultry. As the business grew, Lynn acquired the present farm on Potter Road and converted an existing dairy barn into a laying house for 3,000 hens.

“That first house was a lot of work.  We gathered the eggs, washed them and did the feeding all by hand. The air quality was poor and production never got above 70%” remarked Lynn.

In 2008, the family decided to increase production by constructing a new 50’ x 250’ flat deck house for 9,000 hens. Although the new system saved labor with automated feeding and egg gathering, the family researched other options before their next stage of expansion.

As Jay explained, “We were not totally satisfied with our conventional deck system.  We felt the environment could be better for the chickens.  In addition, we were spending a lot of time cleaning out the building between groups.  The extended down time between groups made it hard for us to supply our customers and reduced our income.”

Their research led them to Potter’s Poultry, one of the leading manufacturers of cage-free production systems.  After contacting Hog Slat rep Jason Billings, the group traveled to England to see firsthand the Potter’s System in use.

“We visited six commercial farms in four days and came away very impressed.” said Lyn “We were particularly interested in an aviary type system because the zoning restrictions on our farm forced us into putting as many chickens as possible in a limited floor plan.  The other aviary systems we had looked at were really just big cages. Potter’s has been building aviary systems for 20 years and has designed a true cage-free system that is the most open one on the market.”

Jay added “We liked what we saw and came home determined to copy the style of barns we had seen in England. The ventilation was excellent and it equipment was built extremely heavy with a lot of small features that make a big difference.”

After returning,  plans were finalized on 55’ x 245’ building with a center wall running the length of the building creating two individual rooms each capable of holding 8,900 hens. By combining this capacity with the first building the Leins will have three separate flocks.  Because no more than one room is ever out of production for cleaning, eggs are always available to supply customers.  Construction began in mid July and the first hens were placed October 3rd.

Yuppie chicken 2

Colony nests are stacked two high along the center wall with the aviary facing it.  The AVINEST colony nests allow hens to gather in groups behind privacy curtain to lay their eggs. The system uses the original AstroTurf pads that are perforated to allow dirt to fall away ensuring cleaner eggs.    Cleaner eggs are also promoted by the automatic expulsion feature where the nest floors are lifted with a rack and pinion system gently moving the hens out of the nests at night time.

The aviary features perches where feed and water are available on multiple levels.  Two manure belts also run the length of the system.   On the other side of the aviary, opposite the nests, is a scratch area with doors that can be opened to an outside run.  The computer controlled ventilation system features chimney style fans linked with automated sidewall vents.

When I asked about the different lights installed in the building Jay explained “First the red lights above the boxes come on at 4:00 until 6:00 am with the nests’ floors dropping down to provide access to the nests.  At 5:30 the whole house fluorescents come on dim and gradually increase every 15 minutes until they are on full power.    Next the perch lights come on, then the lights on the second layer of the aviary come on and finally the floor lights are activated.  The floor lights are key to preventing floor eggs from being laid.  At night the order is reversed with boxes closing around 4:00 pm with the house lights going down at 7:00.  At 8:10 the bottom lights are turned off, the middle lights at 8:20 and the house lights are shut off at 8:30.  This entire sequence is automatically controlled by a master light control.”

Yuppie conveyors_edited-1

Egg collection system on the two-tier nest system is accomplished by the use of curved mini steel rod conveyers that bring the eggs to a single level.  From there another conveyer system moves the eggs to collection area where the eggs are inspected, packaged and cooled until delivery to customers.

Jay also called out the manure handling belts. “We feel that one of the biggest benefits of this system over our older building is the ability to remove the manure frequently.  Because a majority of the manure is deposited under the aviary perches, we are able to run the belts located under the aviary and dump them on to a cross belt where it is piled outside.”

Lein family

“We like our niche in the market” Lynn said when we discussing Yuppie Hill’s customers.  “We supply upper-end restaurants and grocery stores in Madison, Chicago and Sheboygan.  We provide a quality product produced by a family farm.  Demand keeps growing and this new facility will enable us do a better job supplying our customers.”

One final  point of interest at Yuppie Hill farm is the original dairy barn used for the first laying house has been converted again…into a restaurant that serves brunch every Sunday morning except the second weekend the month.  The second weekend is devoted to special Saturday night theme dinner of four to five courses with neighborhood chefs invited in to host the event.  The chefs prepare local foods paired with regional wines and beers.   The event is becoming quite popular with the last couple of dinners being completely sold out.

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New Lease on Life for Broiler Houses

Kip and Michelle Cullers took a hard look at their existing broiler operation and decided changes needed to be made. First put into operation in 1989, the six 22-year old buildings were in need of major renovation to qualify for premium payments.

After exploring their options with MoArk, a leading producer of specialty eggs, the Cullers next contacted Mike Lucariello who heads up Georgia Poultry’s operations in the area.

Working with the existing 40’ x 400’ dimensions, Mike put together a layout designed to house 12,500 hens per building. The layout features two rows of Wadeken center belt nests set up on a flat deck of plastic slats with a lowered center scratch area. New chain feeders and the old drinker systems, outfitted with cups, were installed on the deck area between the nests and the exterior walls.

The ventilation system was upgraded with the addition of seven 52” Windstorm fans and a 5’ x 55’ cool cell system on each side of the building. The system also unitizes the existing curtain system that can be manually activated during mild weather.

To complete the project, a 20’ x 40’ egg room was added to each building. The bulk of the egg collection is done in the morning with center belts moving the eggs to the end of the building where they are placed into flats, stacked on wheeled racks and moved to the egg cooler until pick up every Tuesday and Friday.

Kip commented, “We had complete confidence in turning the project over to Mike. He’s been in the chicken industry for a long time and has broiler and laying houses of his own. We are especially pleased with the way the ventilation system performed last summer. The tunnel system combined with the cool cell system kept the hens comfortable; in fact, we experienced no loss of production despite the record heat we had.”

Kip continued, “Michelle is responsible for the day-to-day operations on the farm. She does an outstanding job keeping up with the paperwork necessary for organic egg production. Plus she manages two full time employees and four part timers who gather eggs. I help out with repair and maintenance as the farming operation and travel allows.” (In case you are wondering whether you have heard Kip’s name before, you may have. He holds the record for soybean production at 160.6 bushels per acre and travels worldwide speaking about his production methods).

To find out more contact us at 800-949-4647. We’ll sit down with you, explain your options and help you put together a plan and cost estimates for remodel or new projects.

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Changing Fan V-belts

Just saw some interesting info from Billy Farmer. Billy is the store supervisor in Georgia, and had just attended the 2012 Poultry Tunnel Ventilation Workshop at the University of Georgia. They always put out great technical informational at their workshops and this piece caught my eye.  We all know that we should change v-belts on belt drive fans when they get worn but….why?

V-belts don’t actually stretch as is commonly referred. They get thinner as they wear. Because they get thinner, the belts will start to ride lower in the pulley groove. When this happens it’s just like the pulley becoming smaller. As the fan spins slower it moves less air. CFM delivery is directly proportional to the fan speed. Spin the fan 10% slower and it moves 10% less air. Reducing the CFM capacity of a building by 10% can spell disaster in terms of pig and broiler performance during the heat of the summer.

How do you know when to replace a V-belt? 

A quick visual check will determine if  a V-belt is worn and needs to be replaced. If the belt is riding above the pulley groove, it is doing its job. If the belt is bottomed out in the groove and/or riding below the top of the groove, it’s time to replace the V-belt.

While you have the V-belt off, you should take time to inspect to the pulley itself. A new pulley has a sharp V-shaped groove. A pulley that is more U-shaped is worn and needs to be replaced before you put on the new V-belt.

To make the job of replacing V-belts less expensive, Hog Slat developed our own line of V-belts called GroBelts. They are constructed of compressed rubber embedded with low stretch nylon cords. Hog Slat and Georgia Poultry stores carry a complete selection of the most popular sizes in stock. If you can’t make it to a local store, you can also order on line at and we’ll ship them directly to your door.

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What is an IP rating?

IP - Ingress Protection rating is used to specify the environmental protection - electrical enclosure - of electrical equipment

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WeatherFlow - Wind Meter for Your Smartphone

ITM-WeatherFLow in package-IMG 

The old saying, “ You can’t improve what you can’t measure,” applies to measuring wind speed in a hog or poultry house.  Gauging wind speed of tunnel ventilation or velocity out of an inlet without an anemometer (wind meter) is like trying to regulate building temperature without a thermostat.

The WeatherFlow wind meter is a great new product that allows you to use your smartphone as an anemometer.  At only $35, it is so affordable that every producer should add it to their ventilation “toolkit.” View our setup and use demonstration below to see just how easy the WeatherFlow wind meter is to use.

WeatherFlow app

First download the FREE app
at either the Apple store or Google play store.

WeatherFlow Start Screen

Then open the app and click on

the small green box in the upper left-hand corner.

WeatherFlow Settings

Click on Settings

WeatherFlow FPM

Click on Speed Units and set it to Linear Feet per Minute

WeatherFlow Time

Next click on Maximum Sample Period and Set it to 30s

WeatherFlow Take reading

Now just plug the WeatherFlow into your smartphone’s earphone jack,
and you are ready to take your first measurement.
Click on Take a Reading 

WeatherFlow with phone

Hold the wind meter away from your body and about five feet off the floor.

Take the measurements at least 40’ from the tunnel fans.
Measurements should be taken on a calm day as windy days can influence readings inside the house.
For the most-accurate results, take a reading 30 seconds long and repeat with a pause of one minute in between.

To order your WeatherFlow wind meter go to

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Grower Select Curtain Machine

In our blog post highlighting Hog Slat’s engineering department (see Engineering Grower Select) Frank remarked, “In almost every case we can look at existing products and make improvements.”

The GrowerSELECT® Curtain Machine is a great example of making changes to existing products to improve performance and reduce maintenance.

curtain machine keyhole

If you have ever “hung” a curtain machine, you will appreciate this feature. After placing a lag bolt in the wall about ½” short of flush, you simply hang the machine from a single keyhole slot in the back of the cabinet. It is much easier to level and add the four mounting lag bolts because the unit remains supported.

Curtain machine top

The Curtain Machine includes three sealed ball bearing head pulleys instead of two.  The extra pulley is added to increase the choices for installing the main cables.  Use the two outside pulleys to cable the machine on both sides of the building.  Single-sided installations have the off side cable routed through the top pulley.

Curtain machine drive block

One of the highest mortality items on a screw type machine is the load block.  Other curtain machines use bronze, brass or nylon. However, the GrowerSELECT machine utilizes a self-lubricating, low friction acetal plastic for both the insert nut and load block slides.   For a more in-depth comparison see our blog post, “More Than You Ever Wanted to Know about Curtain Machine Load Blocks.”

Curtain machine Aux switch

The Curtain Machine features dual limit switches.  The primary limit switches set the travel length, with secondary or redundant switches backing these up. If the first switch fails and engages the secondary switch, the machine shuts down and must be serviced before operating again.  Also included is an auxiliary switch, used to activate a fan after the curtain closes.  Other brands charge extra for this feature.

Curtain machine switches

Another feature you will appreciate is the local control switches, standard with the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine.   A toggle switch sets the machine in manual and overrides the ventilation control.  This is a great safety feature that prevents anyone from activating the unit while it is being serviced.  In addition, it certainly makes it easier to set the limit switches compared to performing this task from a remote controller.

GS Curtain machine close up mounted_edited-1

Eventually, any curtain machine will have to be serviced, and this is where the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine shines.  Note the cutouts in the galvanized housing. You can slip the entire motor assembly out of these slots after loosening three mounting bolts.  It is much easier to service the motor outside of the cabinet.

The entire screw assembly will also come out through these cabinet slots.  It’s still a big job, but it’s possible to slide the entire assembly out for servicing rather than dismantling the screw inside the cabinet.

Although not groundbreaking, the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine is an example of Hog Slat’s commitment to engineering better products.  Click on Curtain Machine for pricing and ordering information.

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More Than You Ever Wanted to Know about Curtain Machine Load Blocks

Nearly all of Hog Slat’s competitors try to dismiss the GrowerSELECT® product line as “just a cheap copy.” However, every time I work with Hog Slat’s engineering department I realize how misguided this perception is.  Nothing is ever “just copied.”

Image of curtain machine load blocks on a table

I was quizzing Hog Slat engineer, Tim King, about the features and benefits of GrowerSELECT’s Curtain Machine.   He explained to me that one of the highest replacement items on a screw type machine is the load nut. As the load block moves up and down the Acme screw, the friction generated causes the insert to fail.  If friction is reduced, wear and maintenance of the insert is reduced.

Curtain Machine loads block compared

1. Grower Select – Aluminum Block/Acetal Insert
2. Brass Block
3. Aluminum Block/ Brass Insert
4. Steel Block/ Nylon Insert

For the GrowerSELECT Curtain Machine, Tim selected acetal plastic to be used for the insert and cabinet slides.  Acetal is one of the strongest non-reinforced plastic available to replace metal bushings.  It is able to reduce friction within the curtain machine because of its low friction coefficient.  So why is this plastic a better choice than the brass or nylon inserts shown in the pictures?

To get a better understanding of Coefficients of Friction, consider these ratings of various materials used for bearings.

Steel on steel dry contact is .80, if you apply grease it becomes .16

Brass on steel dry contact is .35, grease it and it is now .19

Nylon on steel dry contact is .25 and with lubrication moves to .15

Acetal on steel dry rating is .15.

Curtain Machine inserts

1. Nylon
2. Grower Select Acetal
3. Brass block
4. Brass insert

These ratings aren’t telling anyone anything they didn’t already know. Keep a bearing greased, and it will last a long time. What is interesting though is the rating for an acetal load nut without grease is the same as any of other insert materials with grease.

As a matter of fact, the acetal load nut does not even have a grease zerk.  However, we still recommend greasing the Acme shaft with general purpose Lithium grease, primarily to prevent surface rust on the shaft.

I wish you could put your hands on the four inserts in the picture.  The acetal has a slippery, almost oily feel to it; different than the nylon insert.  It is a denser, heavier plastic that is less brittle compared to nylon.

The real advantage is in the day-to-day maintenance on your farm.  The best intentions (like greasing a curtain machine) get lost in the bustle of all the work.  Why not choose a curtain machine with features that reduce maintenance?   Click on Curtain Machine for more information.

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