Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service have found that broiler producers can reduce heating costs by circulating attic air into their chicken houses.

According to their research, the air in broiler house attics is at least 5F warmer than outside temperatures 70% of the time and can reach 20F higher than outdoor temperatures. They created a ventilation system that sources air from the attic instead of outdoors, so that less fuel is needed to heat the air to the desired temperature. In a study on a Missouri farm, they found that the system reduced heating fuel use by 20% to 35%, depending on weather conditions. It also improved air quality.

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The ARS said in a press release this is the first time this type of technology has been applied in broiler houses.