Jones Hamilton Poultry Solutions Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:15:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Ultimate Spring Clean Out Accessory: Dirt Pad Acidification Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:15:00 +0000 While litter management is a topic that is often on growers’ minds, the health of the dirt pad underneath the bedding is often overlooked. However, the condition of the pad can play a significant role in the performance of your flock. Over time, the dirt pad will absorb ammonia thereby raising the pH high enough to create an idea environment for harmful bacteria.

Combining spring clean out with pad acidification is the ideal way to:

  • Reduce ammonia levels during brooding
  • Lower pad pH
  • Boost feed conversion
  • Improve livability

At Jones-Hamilton Co, we guide our customers through the following processes to reap the most benefits from pad acidification.

  1. Wash or blow down the ceilings and side walls of the house. Then spray the ceilings, sidewalls, and equipment with a disinfectant, preferably one that is acidic.
  2. Completely clean out all the old litter from the house down to the dirt pad. Remove all litter from the corners and under fans. Sweep around footings if necessary. It is vital that no litter remains in the house.
  3. Completely remove the tarry, black layer just above the pad prior to acidification. This layer is high in anaerobic pathogens such as Clostridium sp.
  4. Apply PLT® evenly to the whole floor at a rate of 100-150 lbs./1,000 sq. ft. based on pad wetness.  This should be done as close to the new placement as possible

With proper clean out, pad acidification and application of new litter, you can create an ideal environment for your next flock to thrive. If you have questions or are facing other difficulties on your farm, contact your Jones-Hamilton representative today or follow us on LinkedIn

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Smart Spring Clean Out Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:08:07 +0000 Now that winter seems to be ending, spring brings an opportunity for most producers to do a whole house cleanout. After this exceptionally cold and wet winter, producers had a very difficult time removing all the water and humidity that accumulated over the course of 5 to 6 months. All this excess water has ended up deep in the litter pack and saturating the pads to most houses. This has created a high level of ammonia and bacteria that can challenge any flock.

However, too often houses are cleaned out but not refilled with an adequate amount of bedding which can cause more problems than it solves especially if down time is short and not enough time is given for the pads to dry out.

Since litter acts as a medium for absorbing and releasing moisture, it plays an important role in maintaining optimum relative humidity levels of 50-70%. If the litter base isn’t deep enough, the litter can become easily saturated which can cause excessive caking. In fact, not placing enough litter after clean out can cost a grower more than the initial bedding cost would have.

Optimize house conditions for your birds with these 4 smart clean out steps:

  1. As soon as the last flock leaves, remove all litter down to the dirt pad. Pay careful attention to corners and under sidewalls. Remove litter there by hand if necessary. Any litter left in the poultry house generates ammonia for the next flock.
  2. Wait several days before replacing litter so the dirt pad can dry sufficiently.
  3. Use attic inlets and stir fans to encourage pad drying during the down time.    
  4. Dirt pads can retain ammonia, especially in houses older than 5 years. Acidify the pad with PLT® to limit ammonia release during brooding.
  5. Spread a minimum of 4 inches of wood based bedding or 6 inches of rice hulls on the dirt pad. Remember, skimping on litter depth can cost you more in the long run.

Have questions? Litter is our expertise, so be sure to contact your Jones-Hamilton representative for advice on ideal clean out and pad acidification processes. And be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with the latest tips and news. 

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Water line sanitation in turkey brooding and finishing houses Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:59:50 +0000 Water line management has two separate objectives: maintenance and sanitation of the drinker system (managing the drinkers), and use of the drinker system to deliver water soluble products to the birds for purposes such as crop acidification (managing the birds). Maintenance and sanitation of the drinker system is mostly performed while the house is empty and then again any time the water system is used to deliver a product such as vitamins and electrolytes or vaccines.

Water sanitation is used to clean up dirty delivery systems and dirty water—both of which will influence the development of bio-film in the drinker system. While the house is empty, the focus is on removing the mineral scale build-up from the drinkers that forms the scaffolding for bio-film formation. This also helps to remove the nutrients from the line that the bacterial bio-film feeds on. Once the mineral scale is removed with a strong acid such as feed-grade sodium bisulfate LS-PWT2,then sanitizers can be used to reduce bacterial bio-film formation.  Just as in cleaning and disinfecting a house, the goal is to clean first and then sanitize.

Cleaning Water Lines

The best products to use to clean and sanitize the drinker system while the house is empty are a strong acid or oxidizer. The drinker lines should be charged with the product to make sure that the entire system is in contact with the de-scaler and cleaner. If a strong de-scaler such as sodium bisulfate has not been used before, then it’s best to let the product sit in the lines about 8 hours prior to flushing. 

Once the lines have been cleaned on a regular basis, the cleaners can be left in the lines for up to 24 hours. When soaking time is over:

  • Flush the lines with a high pressure flush to remove all of the debris that has been loosened from the sides of the water system.
  • Be sure to get around 40-50 gallons of clean water from each line before discontinuing flushing. Debris in the line tends to break loose intermittently and it’s important to remove all of it from the line by thorough flushing. If the flushing is discontinued prematurely, the loose debris can cause drinkers to leak or clog. 
  • Once the lines are thoroughly clean, then they can be sanitized. Always be sure to follow all labeled directions.

If vitamins, electrolytes, powdered milk or glucose based products are run through the drinker lines while birds are in the house, then 1-2 packs of a mineral acid such as LS-PWT2 (sodium bisulfate) should be run through the medicator to remove the nutrients from the water lines to reduce bio-film formation.

Chlorination Programs

The use of water acidification is also important if a water chlorination program is in effect on the farm.  Because chlorine efficacy is greatly reduced when the pH of the drinking water is above 6.0, acids should be used to maintain water pH at a level of 4.5-5.5 to enhance chlorine activity. Not doing so invalidates the effectiveness of the chlorination program particularly in times of high water demand.

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Smart Water Management for Poultry Operations Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:49:44 +0000 Water management for poultry operations is a subject of much conversation between growers, veterinarians and live production personnel. Water acidification as a preventive or treatment tool for disease management or to improve bird performance is probably one of the most poorly understood areas of poultry husbandry. This stems partly from the fact that until recently no controlled research had been done investigating the preferred pH for poultry water consumption. Water acidification protocols for the prevention or management of certain bacterial diseases had been developed, but in many instances required a drinking water pH at bird level of 4.0 or below to be effective.

Due to the lack of solid information on what type of water turkeys and chickens preferred, many within the industry were reluctant to acidify the drinking water to those biologically effective low levels. A high-pH crop environment (pH greater than 7.0) favors microflora that can hurt poultry performance. Acidification of the drinking water also acidifies the crop which encourages the growth of favorable microflora while discouraging microflora that can harm intestinal integrity and function.

Water acidification is most critical during the establishment of intestinal microflora and at each feed change when nutrient shifts can create instability in the normal intestinal microflora ecology. Using a animal feed grade mineral acid such as sodium bisulfate (LS-PWT2® water acidifier) to reduce the pH of drinking water to 4.0 during the critical periods of intestinal development helps the birds maintain the stability of intestinal microflora throughout the growing period. The establishment and maintenance of healthy intestinal microflora improves live production performance and cost.

How Crop Acidification Works

The reduction of Salmonella, Staph and Clostridium at the farm level focuses on creating a hostile environment to reduce horizontal spread from bird to bird and to reinforce the bird’s natural protection mechanisms. This is most critical when the birds are first placed into the house, when they are moved into the whole house or to the growout barn, and when they are withdrawn from feed.

Acidifying poultry drinking water with sodium bisulfate for the first seven days of life provides a second layer of protection to the lactic acid producing bacteria (LAPBs) that are part of the crop’s normal ecology. This helps the newly hatched poult to maintain a low crop pH until it has established its own population of stable LAPBs. A low crop pH reduces the number of Salmonella or Clostridium that pass farther along the digestive tract and enables the bird to colonize with normal gut flora first. Once the crop’s LAPB population has been established, the bird will be able to maintain a low crop pH on its own as long as feed is available. When feed is withdrawn or turkeys are not eating for any reason, the normal population of LAPBs dies off and Salmonella will multiply in the crop. Acidifying the drinking water to a pH of 3.5 or below during times when feed is not available will prevent the crop pH from becoming too high.

A target pH of 3.5-4.0 is critical for these bacterial control programs to work so it is important to choose a mineral acid that birds will drink readily at that low pH. If the birds refuse to drink the water at the proper pH for crop acidification, the program will not work.

Unique Characteristics that Make LS-PWT2® the Ideal Water Acidifier

All of the acids currently marketed to the poultry industry are weak organic acids (i.e. citric, acetic, lactic) that have poor taste profiles and limited pH reducing capabilities. An organic acid is an acid that has carbon in it such as lactic, acetic (vinegar) or proprionic acids. Organic acids are often characterized as being sour due to their pKa being above the solution pH (a lazy acid). Some suggest that organic acids will work anyway at a high pH but research on bacterial killing ability shows that final pH is the determining factor and not organic acid concentration. Field experience seems to bear this out as the final pH at bird level seems to be the determining factor of efficacy rather than organic acid concentration.

LS-PWT2® water acidifier is the first FDA approved feed grade mineral acid water treatment available to the poultry industry. Due to the unique chemistry of LS-PWT2®, the consumption of treated water is not decreased at higher concentrations as has been reported for organic acids. This advantage gives producers the flexibility for administration in a wide range of applications in all livestock and poultry species. Because LS-PWT2® has a low pKa, it has a cleaner taste profile and profound acidification properties that should overcome all of the issues of using the weak organic acids.    

 Water Acidifiers for Cleaning Water Lines

The ability to significantly reduce water pH without impacting water consumption is of great advantage in cleaning water lines during the flock. The periodic cleaning of water lines with birds in the house is very desirable especially in areas with high levels of iron in the water. The use of organic acids to clean the water lines with birds in the house results in decreased water consumption during the cleaning period.

With LS-PWT2® water acidifier, the lines can be cleaned frequently without negatively impacting bird health or performance. In most houses a shift in pH is sufficient to clean the lines. In houses with iron water, the pH of the water at bird level should be a 4.0 or less during cleaning in order to reduce the negative impact of the iron content.

Finally, it is critical to use an animal feed grade or human food grade acid in the drinking water.  Industrial grade liquid acids are not approved by FDA for animal consumption. LS-PWT2® brand of water acidifier contains Sodium Bisulfate Animal Feed Grade and is produced under the guidelines for “Manufacturing, Packaging and Distribution of Animal Feeds and Feed Ingredients”. It is produced in a manner that assures the quality required for consumption by food-producing animals and meets requirements that are necessary to minimize the potential for contamination. LS-PWT2® is approved by the FDA for use in animal feed and water.

Have questions about water management for your operations? Contact your Jones-Hamilton Co representative to discuss your needs. 




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Jones-Hamilton Makes Top Workplaces List Mon, 03 Feb 2014 14:34:42 +0000 On Sunday, January 26, The Toledo Blade announced their “Top Workplaces” – a list of the best places to work in the Toledo metro area. Companies can be nominated by employees and winners are selected based on feedback from a comprehensive employee survey that spans variables such as life/work balance, management, pay and incentives, company direction, the company/employee connection and more. 

Based on nominations, 578 companies were invited to participate and Jones-Hamilton is proud to have been ranked 12 in the small company category. A big thanks to all the employees and customer that make this award possible! 

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Jones-Hamilton Receives Food Safety & ISO 9001 Certifications Mon, 03 Feb 2014 14:20:13 +0000 In mid-January 2014, the Jones-Hamilton Company once again passed the 22000 Food Safety Certification audit and the ISO 9001 quality re-certification. In both instances, the auditor made many positive comments about our employees and our systems. These certifications ensure that Jones-Hamilton is able to meet the demands of both our current and future customers as well as satisfy all government regulations for continued success.  

2013 marked a record production year at Jones-Hamilton as well as the construction of our second facility in Richburg, South Carolina. Despite the extra requirements, Jones-Hamilton employees excelled and put in the extra effort to make it happen. 


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Why Relative Humidity Matters in Poultry Houses Wed, 22 Jan 2014 09:46:56 +0000 It’s no secret that maintaining careful control of your poultry house environment goes a long way in maximizing bird performance. In addition to ammonia levels and temperature, it’s important to constantly monitor relative humidity levels for maximum affect.

By ventilating poultry houses for relative humidity (RH) level of 50-70% you can prevent moisture build-up and litter stickiness around the drinker/feeder lines and the sidewalls which will help: 

  • Minimize ventilation during brooding
  • Prevent ammonia formation
  • Lower incidence of paws lesions
  • Save on fuel costs 

Maintaining ideal RH levels is easier than you think. Simply: 

  1. Check for air leaks around the inlet machines and check for drafts along sidewalls.
  2. Refrain from tilling litter and set your de-caker only deep enough to remove cake without disturbing the deeper litter. Learn more about proper de-caking here
  3. Pre-heat before bird placement to reach 94°F evenly across the entire litter surface and 2-3 inches deep into the litter.
  4. Ensure proper warming and mixing across the ceiling by checking static pressure.
  5. Check RH levels in the morning and add fan time if levels rise about 70%.

Want help managing relative humidity in your houses? Contact your Jones Hamilton Ag representative for support. 

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Poultry Houses Between Flocks: Open or Closed? Mon, 13 Jan 2014 21:27:57 +0000 The birds have moved out. It’s time to open the house and take a break, right? Not so fast. Leaving your poultry house open between flocks can actually cause more harm than good. How? An open house:

  • Looses heat
  • Shuts down the ammonia production from the litter
  • Causes beetles to migrate to the walls and ceiling where they can damage insulation
  • Makes viruses dormant

 ….All of which can hurt the performance of the next flock.

Poultry House Heat: Open vs Closed

Let’s address the heat issue first. Chickens have a body temperature of 106 degrees. 23,000 birds can generate 400,000 – 600,000 BTUs per hour which is equal to 14-20 conventional pancake brooders or 110 to 150 gallons of propane per day! If you were offered 150 gallons of free propone per day, wouldn’t you take it?

By leaving a poultry house open after move out you are essentially losing this free resource. Closing the house tight between flocks will help reduce your gas bill significantly especially during preheat and week one.

Close Your House for Ammonia Purge

It’s no secret that heat purges ammonia from litter. The warmer the house is kept the more ammonia will convert and come off of the floor. Taking advantage of the natural heat provided by the birds that have just moved out allows you to save fuel and reduce the amount of ammonia you must deal with at the beginning of the next flock.

But there’s more to it than that. Once ammonia is converted to a gas it can be converted back to a liquid if water is present or the humidity in the house gets too high and causes it to sweat. If this occurs, it will be necessary to ventilate periodically. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Do not ventilate in the evening or early morning or moisture will be reintroduced to the house, mix with ammonia gas and fall to the floor
  • Ventilate when air is driest, usually between 10am and 4pm

 Smart De-Caking for Heat Retention

Caked litter contains more moisture and therefore higher levels of ammonia, so it’s vital to de-cake your house right after move out to begin litter curing and minimize heat loss. While some heat will be lost during this process it will recover quickly once you’re done and it will enable you to purge more ammonia too. If you wait 24-48 hours the house temperature will be closer to the outside temperature and won’t recover as quickly.

During de-caking, keep these tips in mind:

  • Only disturb the areas that are caked without going too deep
  • Be sure to clean corners and side walls where cake is often thicker
  • For leveling, use a chain-link fence section with a few weights attached
  • Ventilate during this process for worker safety by opening vent boxes

Getting your next flock off to the best start possible begins long before they arrive. Contact your local Jones Hamilton Ag representative for more pointers on managing your litter. 

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What you might not know about your poultry house floors Mon, 09 Dec 2013 18:52:33 +0000 When it comes to general health and food safety, the brooding period is arguably the most critical in a chicken’s life. The moment a chick arrives on the farm, the environmental conditions present set the pattern for the remaining grow-out period. In fact, the environment in the first seven days:

  • Determines the population of intestinal flora
  • Influences the passage of maternal antibodies
  • Affects the bird’s immune response.

Achieving Optimal Litter Conditions

Litter condition is the main environmental factor that drives health and performance, with litter temperature topping the list. Ideally, litter temperature at chick placement should be 90-95°F. Keep in mind that achieving that temperature may require higher settings with forced-air furnaces compared to radiant tube heaters. 

When determining the temperature of your litter, it’s important you record the actual litter temperature and not the air temperature. This can be done with a calibrated infrared thermometer.  Of course, visual observation can also serve as a good indicator of bird comfort. Chicks and poults should be active, well spread out and eating out of the feed pans and feeder lids.  Birds that huddle, congregate under the brooders, avoid brooders completely or only sit in the feed without eating are not comfortable regardless of what the sensors are recording.

The Importance of Litter Temperature

Chicks are unable to regulate their body temperature for the first 72-96 hours of life and chilling places them under a significant amount of stress and can cause them to become immunocompromised. If chilled, chicks also undergo vasoconstriction to retain heat which interferes with the passage of maternal antibodies into the chick through yolk sac absorption and results in retained yolks. The stress of chilling, combined with impaired yolk sac absorption, retards the immune response of the chick and makes a flock much more susceptible to any disease-causing agents present in the house, which may also influence the microbiological profile of the chickens in the processing plant. There is recent evidence (Cox et al, 2011) that retained yolks play a factor in determining the presence of E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter on processed carcasses

Additionally, chicks that are placed on a cold floor spend more time trying to keep warm than eating or drinking.  Numerous studies have shown that birds placed on floors even as little as five degrees cooler than optimal temperature gain significantly less weight than chicks placed on warm floors. Chicks hatched from young hen flocks or chicks that were chilled during delivery need a bit more heat during brooding to be comfortable. One simply needs to set the brooder temperature a few degrees higher than normal and these compromised birds will perform as well as and have 7-day weights as good as their larger counterparts. Proper floor temperature directly correlates to good 7-day bird weights. If birds do not achieve appropriate 7-day weights, they will not be able to make the performance up in the remainder of the flock.

Proper House Pre-Heating and Conditions to Monitor

House pre-heating should begin at least 48 hours prior to chick placement to ensure proper litter temperature. In houses that are not properly preheated, litter temperature can be as much as twenty degrees lower than the air temperature. 

It’s also important to monitor the moisture content of litter. When damp bedding is placed in poultry houses, it serves as an evaporative cooling pad that chills chicks and is detrimental to weight gain and feed conversion, and impairs the chick’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infection.

With damp bedding, Czarick and Fairchild (2006) reported floor surface temperatures 5 to 10°F cooler than the air above.  Since floor temperatures are more important to chick health than air temperatures, increased pre-heating times are necessary to properly cure the bedding and, in subsequent flocks, litter before chick placement. Preheat houses 48-96 hours prior to chick placement to dry the bedding, making sure to maintain a relative humidity of 50 to 60% by ventilating as needed. When available, use radiant-type brooders, attic inlets and circulation fans to heat and dry the bedding. In warm weather, use tunnel fans to remove any moisture on the house pad from a wash-down and to promote drying of the damp bedding.

Litter and Air Quality

Air quality at brooding is also greatly impacted by pre-heating of built-up litter. In warm weather, producers often cut their pre-heating time down to as little as 2 hours under the assumption that the only reason for pre-heating is litter temperature. In reality, pre-heating is the main way to cure the litter and prepare it for the next flock. In flocks raised on built-up litter or dirt floors, adding heat to the litter initiates a large ammonia purge. This purge needs to be completed BEFORE chick placement, which is the second reason for a 48-hour pre-heat. In houses with very deep litter, houses that have been windrowed or pulverized, or in houses with damp litter, pre-heating should begin 48-96 hours prior to chick placement in order to complete the ammonia purge prior to bird placement. The increased contact time between the warm air and the floor is what completes the litter curing. Extending the pre-heat to allow this to occur will not burn significant amounts of fuel if minimal ventilation is done properly. In fact, proper pre-heating will lower overall fuel usage. By removing ammonia and achieving floor temperatures before birds arrive, ventilation demands post-placement are reduced and floor temperature is maintained rather than lost through excess ventilation.

 Since the purged ammonia from pre-heating accumulates in the house even with minimal ventilation, it should be exhausted all at once with a quick period of maximum ventilation. This should be done either immediately before application of the litter amendment or in a house not receiving an amendment, an hour or two prior to chick placement. From this point on, standard minimum ventilation for the brooding period can begin. 




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Ideal Utilization of Down Time Between Flocks: Ventilation (Part 3 of 3) Mon, 14 Oct 2013 18:49:34 +0000 In today’s modern solid sidewall houses, it is essential to provide some level of minimal ventilation during down time to prevent houses from sweating. If condensation is allowed to form inside the house, it will mix with ammonia gas from the litter and the resulting liquid ammonia is highly corrosive to equipment. This is the main reason that corrosion occurs along the tops of inlet and feedline cables. It is also very important to ventilate when workers are present inside the house to remove the accumulated ammonia. One should never attempt to work inside an empty chicken house without ventilation. Because the ammonia concentration in the air will get quite high, open all vent boxes and run enough fans to clear the ammonia to levels safe for workers when working the litter and performing routine maintenance during layout. Afterwards, shut the house back up and revert back to the minimum ventilation schedule to continue with the litter curing process. 

Based on experience with thousands of commercial poultry houses, it is recommended that the house be shut tightly as soon as the last birds are removed from that house. Do not wait for the entire farm to be caught before closing the house up tightly. The purpose of closing the house is to begin the litter curing process as quickly as possible. The litter is at its highest temperature as soon as the birds leave and closing the house up immediately harnesses that heat to begin the litter curing. If one waits until the entire farm is caught, much of that free heat in the litter will be lost and the litter curing process will be delayed.  The house should remain closed until the chicks arrive except for times when the house is being actively worked in. 

Strategies for a minimum ventilation program during the layout will depend on the litter quality factors mentioned previously, de-caking/conditioning method, time of year, type of housing and equipment, and duration of layout. The most common strategy is to ventilate just enough to prevent the house from sweating.  Experience shows that this retains litter temperature for a longer period of time resulting in greater ammonia release from the litter.  Running fans continuously drops litter temperature and forms a dry skin on the litter surface preventing the litter form curing properly. Fans and/or attic inlets should only be run during the hottest parts of the day when the outside air mass is at its driest to prevent drawing moisture into the house. A more aggressive ventilation schedule may be required when the litter and cake have been pulverized or windrowed between flocks due to much higher levels of ammonia release and the added moisture from the cake left in the house.

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