Balancing Poultry House Ventilation with Fuel Costs

For producers, proper poultry house ventilation is the primary method available to maintain high quality litter. However, maintaining the equilibrium between ammonia concentrations, relative humidity, litter quality and the fuel costs associated with ventilation and heating is a delicate process. If any one variable becomes unbalanced, bird performance and profitability can be negatively impacted.

The air flow pattern during poultry house ventilation is a major factor in determining how much cake forms and where cake forms in your house. With proper chicken house ventilation, cake will only form along water lines, but where improper air movement, drafts, air leaks or insufficient insulation exists, cake will also form.

Solutions for Turkey and Chicken House Ventilation

Here are a few simple steps you can take to balance ventilation needs.

  • Use stir fans to move warmer air from the ceiling to floor during cold months, which will promote litter drying.
  • Run adequate heat, ventilation and fan time to keep the relative humidity between 50%-70% to prevent caking. This will minimize the formation of cake along the drinker lines.
  • Pay particular attention to relative humidity on new litter since it has higher moisture content and can slick over more easily.
  • Find and repair any sources of excess moisture that can cause caking such as air leaks and inadequate insulation.
  • Maintain ideal air mixing by operating inlets at proper static pressure and opening.
  • Increase ventilation to dry litter without higher heating costs by using attic inlets.
  • Use tunnel ventilation and evaporative cooling pads for improved litter conditions during hot weather.

If it’s been a while since you’ve reassessed your poultry house ventilation procedures, it might be time. In the past 15 years, broiler water consumption has nearly doubled by some estimates (Czarick and Fairchild, 2010), which means the ventilation rates required to adequately control litter moisture have changed as well.

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