5 Crucial Steps to Prepare Your Poultry House for Fall & Winter

Posted by FarmLab Innovations on Sep 4, 2019

For growers in the South, September and October can be a tricky time. In this part of the country, the warm weather doesn’t truly let up until November — at which point the temperature tends to drop quickly and drastically.

It can be tough to ensure air flow efficiency, control dust issues, keep your birds safe and comfortable, and stop power bills from skyrocketing as you transition from summer into fall and winter weather.

Here are some crucial tips for growers to keep in mind as we head into the last few months of the year:

Picture1_Stuart Koehn – Fountain Run, KY

Photo c/o: Stuart – Fountain Run, KY

1. Focus on your fans.

Proper airflow is essential year-round, but becomes especially important during the winter. In both new and old poultry houses, you’ll want to stir the air inside regularly in order to encourage proper ventilation. 

Without sufficient air movement, hot air gathers at the top of the house, with cold air falling down below. This process — known as “stratifying” — causes a serious drain on your resources. It also yields undesirable conditions for bird health.

Beyond keeping your fans clean and free of dust, you also need to ensure that these machines are getting regular maintenance. Worn belts, pulleys, and other equipment that start to break down over time has a major impact on efficiency and also prevents maximum velocity from developing. 

This maintenance should happen ahead of when you need your fans the most — so don’t save it for the hottest part of your growing season. However, if you’ve got larger animals in the houses, you’ll want to verify that your fans are in good working order during the grow-out. You should also check that your shutters are clean.

2. Treat and stop air leaks.

Air that leaks between tunnel inlets and tunnel fans automatically makes those fans work harder in order to give off the ideal velocity. If you are experiencing leaks (even if they may seem miniscule) in any part of your poultry house, you’re forcing your fans to go into overdrive to keep temperatures even and your birds comfortable. 

This is especially true if you’ve got unsealed cracks in the house. When power bills are getting to be unmanageable and it feels like your fans just can’t keep up, check and see if this is part of the problem.

You’ll want to pay especially close attention to areas such as the:

  • Sidewalls
  • Tunnel inlet curtains
  • Carpenter joints
  • Concrete footings
  • Doors
  • Sidewall or ceiling vent inlets
  • Fan shutters
  • Outside wall metal

When holes form or damage occurs in these areas, you’re allowing air to seep in and throw off the balance of your otherwise desirable environment. It doesn’t matter how new or well-constructed a poultry house is. Any structure is at risk for leaks, so it’s important to be mindful of proper upkeep.

If you’re unsure if your poultry house has leaks present, use smoke to guide you. Place the house under 0.10 inches of static pressure and carefully smoke the exterior. If you see smoke seeping into the house, you know you’ve got leaks to deal with. Even seemingly tiny leaks can wreak major havoc, so address them as swiftly as possible.

3. Tend to your insulation.

If your house lacks proper insulation, you’ll find that you’re wasting a tremendous amount of energy when temperatures drop. Before winter sets in, make it a point to insulate your poultry house properly and perform upgrades as needed. 

Keep in mind that solid walled builds are much more effective at keeping heat inside when it gets cold.

Picture3_Cindy Burkhart – Norwich, OH

Photo c/o: Cindy – Norwich, OH

4. Maintain your heaters and vents.

In order to ensure proper airflow when cold weather sets in, you’ll want to verify that your vents and heaters are working properly. Regular wear and tear can reduce the performance of this equipment, leaving you with wasted fuel and less-than-ideal conditions for your birds.

On your vents, keep an eye out for:

  • Rusted pulleys
  • Lack of insulation on the back of vent doors
  • Corroded vent door hinges
  • Gears and fittings in vent machines that are in need of grease

When you’re inspecting heaters, look for:

  • Malfunctioning direct spark igniters
  • Burners that are stopped up
  • Regulators that are broken
  • Plumbing or fittings that are allowing gas leaks to occur
  • Gas supply hoses that are kinked or rotting 

As you focus on maintenance, you’ll also want to take a look at the condition of your fans. Dust buildup negatively impacts poultry houses in a major way by slowing air movement and driving up fuel costs. In fact, we’ve found that when shutters are clean, fans move 47 percent more air per minute, while using 8.3 percent less electrical current. If you’d like more information like this, we’ve got plenty worth sharing with you.

5. Choose products that make cleaning your fans cleaner and more cost-effective.

At FarmLab Innovations, we know that your time is precious and that minimizing dust is a year-round concern. 

In fact, we recently polled 62 poultry growers in the United States. We asked how often these growers were cleaning their fans between flocks. The results showed that 83 percent of poll participants are required by their integrator to wash their fans between every flock, with only 17 percent washing their fans once per year or never.

Because poultry growers are spending such a significant amount of time cleaning fans, our team of chemists developed our SWASHDUST-REPEL spray to streamline this process. Our goal is to make cleaning your fans easier and more cost-effective. 

We’ve found that applying SWASHDUST-REPEL in the late summer and early fall cuts down on dust buildup, thus leading to a 30-50 percent reduction in water usage during clean out. 

Additionally, fans that are treated with SWASHDUST-REPEL can be cleaned 30 percent faster than those that aren’t. The end result? Reduced ammonia retention in the building, an easier cleaning process, and better health for both your flock and your staff.

A key tip to keep in mind as you utilize this product: don’t neglect your fan’s crates. We heard from one grower who used SWASHDUST-REPEL a few months ago who noted that he wished he had thought to treat his crates as well. Remember, crates that get clogged with feathers and other debris slow down your air flow efficiency, so give them proper attention.

Better air flow and poultry house ventilation equates to a healthier environment for both your birds and your staff.

Where can I find more information about SWASHDUST-REPEL™?

If you’re interested in learning more about SWASHDUST-REPEL and how the solution could ensure air flow efficiency, control dust issues, keep your birds safe and comfortable, and stop power bills from skyrocketing, please contact FarmLab Innovations here. A member of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.

Topics: SWASHDUST-REPEL™

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