With rising propane and natural gas prices, the relative value of good energy management on the farm increases. If a drafty broiler house cost you hundreds of dollars when propane was $0.80 per gallon, then it will cost you twice as much when gas is $1.60 per gallon. Czarick presented five steps for reducing heating costs at the U.S. Poultry & Egg Production and Health seminar held recently in Memphis, Tenn.

Mike Czarick, engineering extension specialist,
University of Georgia 

Step 1: Totally enclose your house. Czarick said that curtains have very low R-values and they leak. Loose houses negatively affect air quality and bird performance. Closing in sidewalls and insulating them can result in fuels savings of up to 30 percent Czarick said. Since the industry has moved to tunnel ventilation and evaporative cooling in the summer time, Czarick said that a closed house better insulates birds from high outside temperatures as well.

Step 2: Install ceiling fans or circulation fans. Hot air rises and the hottest air in the poultry house will be near the ceiling. Ceiling fans and or small circulation fans can be used to push hot air back down to the floor which will warm the floor, where the birds are, and dry the litter. Czarick said that the more uniform the house temperature is the lower the total heating costs will be. Circulation fans need to run continuously and the fans should be small so that the birds are not chilled by the air movement.


Step 3: Make sure your house is tight. If you have curtains, check for leaks around the top and bottom of the curtain. Check to make sure that your brooding curtain is tight. Czarick said that tunnel doors seal better than tunnel curtains do, so you might want to consider these when your tunnel curtains need replacing. A leaky house means that you are pulling outside air in through cracks and gaps in places where you don’t want to. A leaky house will require more total air to be pulled into the house to adequately ventilate the house, and this means that you burn more fuel.

Step 4: Control your darkling beetles. These beetles destroy insulation in the walls and ceiling. Once the insulation is gone, you don’t have the R-value that you think you do, and you burn more fuel.

Step 5: Consider installing attic inlets. Attic inlets allow your ventilation fans to draw air into the house through the attic during cold weather. Czarick said that with the inlets tested by the University of Georgia, growers can save between 10 percent and 20 percent on fuel. He said that houses with attic inlets are less drafty, because the air pulled into the house is warmer than outside air. He also said that houses with attic vents “warm up” faster on winter mornings and require more ventilation fan to be run, around 20 percent more, without burning any additional fuel. This higher ventilation rate gives better litter and air quality in the house.