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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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