Why Broiler Farms Must Assess Their Ventilation Systems
With effective ventilation being essential for healthy poultry, farmers must ensure these systems are consistently kept in working order.
Written by John Lack, Business Development Manager at Hydor
Handling the heat
Far too often, farmers are neglecting ventilation systems during the colder months as more emphasis is placed on heat. This can result in operational failure, which leads to bird welfare issues and reduced returns when it comes to the peak ventilation seasons of spring and summer.
Without adequate ventilation, poultry is put at increased risk of heat stress during these periods. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), an increase in body temperature of just 4°C can result in fatality, and it can take as long as five days for birds to acclimatise to high temperatures. Early warning signs of heat stress in poultry include avoidance of other birds, reduced feed intake and increased water consumption.
As well as the detriment to yield, farms also face the further cost of unexpected maintenance and repairs. One of the key challenges broiler farms have is that later-staged fans can often seize up through underuse. These applications are less active all year round until a heat wave approaches, meaning they often haven’t been checked, maintained and operated. As a result, the fans fail to perform when called upon. This causes in emergency callouts, which is both stressful for the birds as well as all involved on the farm.
Staying on the front foot
There are several steps farmers can take to avoid being on the back foot and incurring further costs to operations:
- Farms should look to conduct a thorough review of all air movement systems ahead of the summer months. For a spring MOT, the first thing to confirm is that all of the fans are operating correctly. This includes checking motors, fan blades, fan belts and louvres. With the functionality of the fans confirmed, a thorough audit of the temperature, CO2 and humidity sensors, as well as all of the vents within a shed, can take place.
- Many will often choose to replace later-staged fans like-for-like, but it is in fact advised to take an alternative, staged approach. These fans should instead be replaced with already-working Stage One Fans. From here, farmers can look to retrofit the system with a more energy-efficient fan later down the line. Here, Hydor can provide applications with superior energy performance as part of its product range.
- If a particularly hot day is approaching, over-ventilating the night before to drop the temperature by 2-3°C can make it easier to maintain optimum temperatures for birds, from 21 days into the cycle, throughout the hottest parts of the day.
Increasingly sophisticated technologies are making it easier to understand and control the performance of a given crop. As well as avoiding an unexpected failure in key services when they’re needed most, a regular review of ventilation systems can help to optimise conditions to ensure maximum yield. This can all be achieved by taking simple steps and putting the right solutions in place.
Contact us today to find out more about how our ventilation solutions can help.