Over the years, energy efficiency has ramped up and people are more aware of their energy usage. Power companies have also started offering incentives to be more energy efficient. The poultry industry is also thinking along the same line. Here are some ways to help reduce your energy costs associated with your poultry houses:
Insulate your Houses- Your poultry houses and equipment should be well maintained and in good working order. If you need to, you may modify them to stop excessive heat loss. It is also important to insulate your poultry houses. Be vigilant of and quickly repair insulation that birds, rodents, or insects may destroy or damage.
Seal Curtains- Be sure to repair any curtain holes and rid of cracks between your houses and your curtains. Cracks may reduce the ability to properly control your ventilation. The entire sidewall opening must be covered, as well as curtains should fit close to the wall. Bottoms of curtains should be sealed with a tack-strip. You can reduce uncontrolled air entry by installing pocket flaps over curtain tops and ends.
Stop Air Leaks- Drafts can be prevented by sealing wall cracks and air leaks. You can seal cracks with expanding polyurethane foam. Foam expands as it dries, so do not over apply.
Vapor Barrier- Protect against moisture saturation by installing a vapor barrier on the warm side of insulation. Also, seal damage and tears to exposed vapor barriers.
Maintain Control Devices- Check and clean timers and thermostats for accuracy. Be sure to replace them if they cannot be repaired.
Weather-strip Openings- All door openings should be weather-stripped to prevent air entry when doors are closed.
Properly Ventilate- Work diligently to be sure your ventilation is in sync with the production needs of your birds, as well as house conditions. Keep a watch for excess litter moisture which requires additional energy.
Eliminate Temperature Layers- Mixing fans can be used to circulate air and help maintain a uniform temperature at all levels. If air is not circulated, different temperature layers can form. Warmer air will be near the ceiling. Houses with tall ceilings will create more temperature layers.
Control Wasting Water- Ventilating properly helps reduce litter moisture. It is also important to repair waterer and water line leaks. Additional heat is required by faulty/leaky water systems.
Timely Ventilation- During the warmest times of the day, it may be necessary to increase the ventilation rate to control moisture in the house and in the litter. As the temperature of the house increases, the evaporation of moisture increases greatly.
Fan Replacement- Always replace fans with the most energy efficient ones that work for your house needs. Be sure to have access to a replacement fan motor and consider maintenance and service type questions when deciding on your replacement fans.
Maintain Equipment- Shutters and fans should be cleaned on a regular basis. Lubricating motors and pivot joints is important, after shutters and fans have been cleaned. All unused fan openings should be covered and sealed with curtain material or plastic sheeting.
There are also many other areas of concern when considering poultry house energy efficiency. It is important to keep accurate records of your electric, gasoline, gas, and diesel fuel meters on a monthly basis. If you do not have meters, you can record how much fuel you purchased and use your bills to compare monthly fuel consumption. If you have any questions about how you can save more energy on your farm, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Office.
Margaret Ross is an Eastern Area Extension Agent specializing in poultry. She is housed in Jones County and can be reached by phone at 252-448-9621 or by e-mail: Margaret_Ross@ncsu.edu.