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. Though no matter where you grow chickens or turkeys, these tips hold true and it can be tough to ensure air flow efficiency, control dust issues, keep your birds 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:
Photo c/o: Stuart – Fountain Run, KY
1. Focus on your fans.
Good directional airflow is essential year-round, but becomes especially important during the winter when the air outside is so much colder than the air inside your house. In both new and old poultry houses, you’ll want to use stir fans that circulate the air inside regularly in order to encourage proper air mixing from floor to ceiling.
Without sufficient air movement, hot air gathers at the top of the house, with cold air falling down below. This process — known as “stratification” — can cause litter caking, makes brooders run longer, and generally makes birds less comfortable.
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 have a major impact on efficiency.
This maintenance should happen regularly — so don’t just save it for the hottest part of your growing season rather do it year-round.
2. make SUre Your House is Tight.
Loose houses make it impossible to get air to go where you want it to go and at the right speed. Incoming air should only enter the house through the top of the inlets and needs good static pressure to make sure it is thrown along the ceiling to the center of the house. When a house is loose, air comes in cracks creating drafts and cold spots that chill birds and create litter caking. In addition, all those cracks cause static pressure to drop so any air that is coming in the inlet falls to the floor too quickly before it can be well warmed.
You’ll want to pay especially close attention to areas such as the:
- Tunnel curtains
- Carpenter joints
- Concrete footings
- Side and End Doors
All poultry houses, no matter how well constructed, will loosen up over time. Proper, regular maintenance to identify and seal leaks is important. The best way to identify where air may be seeping in is to smoke a house using some type of smoke generator. Any area where you see smoke entering the house is one that needs to be sealed. Be sure to also smoke along the sill where the sidewall meets the concrete footers. This is one of the first places in a house to receive beetle damage and is often overlooked. Once you have identified the air leaks be sure to seal them promptly for the best house performance.
3. Tend to your insulation.
Many poultry houses are insufficiently insulated or have settling or damage to their current insulation causing it to be less effective than it once was. Particular attention should be paid to ceiling insulation as it is the most important insulation in the building. Be sure to add adequate insulation in the beginning and check it regularly to make sure it hasn’t settled leaving bare areas. The fan end of the house is a particular problem as the operation of the tunnel fans causes vibration that can cause the insulation to become unevenly spread.
Sidewalls are the second most important area to insulate well. Beetle damage to sidewall insulation is also a problem. Look for areas on the sidewall that are stained from sweating or that birds are avoiding for clues to where the insulation may have become damaged or is insufficient.
Photo c/o: Cindy – Norwich, OH
4. Maintain your Brooders and Inlets.
In order to ensure proper airflow when cold weather sets in, you’ll want to verify that your inlets and brooders 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 inlets, keep an eye out for:
- Vent doors that don’t shut properly
- 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 brooders, look for:
- Malfunctioning direct spark igniters
- Clogged burners
- Broken regulators
- Plumbing or fittings that are allowing gas leaks to occur
- Gas supply hoses that are kinked or rotting
5. Choose products that make cleaning your fans Easier and more cost-effective.
As you focus on house maintenance, you’ll also want to take a look at the cleanliness of your fans. Dust buildup on fans negatively impacts poultry houses by slowing air movement preventing fans from working effectively. When fan blades and shutters are clean, fans move more air per minute, while using less electricity.
At Jones-Hamilton Co., we know that your time is precious and that minimizing dust accumulation to ease in cleaning and reduce wear on equipment is a year-round concern. Because fans are so notoriously difficult to clean, our team of chemists developed SWASHDUST-REPEL™ to help 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 through the winter allowing your fans to work more efficiently. Additionally, fans that are treated with SWASHDUST-REPEL™ can be cleaned faster than those that aren’t. The end result? More effective ventilation, an easier cleaning process, and labor savings. A key tip to keep in mind as you utilize this product: don’t neglect your fan’s grates. We heard from one grower who used SWASHDUST-REPEL™ a few months ago who noted that he wished he had thought to treat his grates as well. Remember, grates that get clogged with feathers and other debris slow down your air flow efficiency, too, so give them proper attention.
Better air flow and more effective poultry house ventilation equates to a better environment for your birds.
Where can I find more information about SWASHDUST-REPEL™?
If you’re interested in learning more about SWASHDUST-REPEL™ and how the solution could improve fan efficiency, reduce dust, keep your birds comfortable, and reduce electricity use, please contact Jones-Hamilton Co. A member of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.