Cartanza advising to use proper ventilation
GEORGETOWN, Del. (Nov. 7, 2017) — Ventilation in poultry houses is a key to growing healthy chickens and as the region heads into winter weather, proper ventilation can make a big difference at the end of the flock’s growout, Georgie Cartanza, University of Delaware’s poultry Extension agent, told growers at a recent workshop.
“What you do with ventilation can set you apart. All those things make it that much more critical, especially in a competitive contract,” she said.
Air quality, bird comfort and moisture control are all impacted by ventilation and each can impact bird health and growth.
With more attention on paw quality and general bird welfare from integrators and their customers that buy chicken, it puts more of an onus on the grower to keep the environment consistent in the chicken house, Cartanza said.
The advent of computer controllers in chicken houses has helped tremendously, saving time and improving consistency of the environment.
However, she added they don’t take the place of growers going through the house.
“Your controller doesn’t really know if the birds are comfortable or not,” she said. “You’ve got to observe that.”
Good ventilation is all about house tightness and proper static pressure, Cartanza said, pulling air into the house through the inlets and exhausting it out through the fans.
The key is to mix the cooler air from the outside with air warm air at the peak of the house.
The mixing of the air helps temper the air before it gets to bird level, resulting in the birds not noticing a change in their environment.
She said having less vent boxes open more; is better than having more vents boxes open less.
“The opening gives you the volume of air and the pressure gives you the throw to get the air to the center of the house,” Cartanza said.
Cartanza, who is also a contract grower, told the group gathered at the University of Delaware’s Carvel Research and Education Center to know the “tightness” or how much air flows freely in and out of their house or houses.
Any spot that light comes in to the house, so does unwanted air and it needs to be addressed.
Old and shrinking tunnel curtains, non-working louvers are two other often missed spots that can hurt ventilation, she added.
“Some people are not getting chickens because their house is not tight enough,” Cartanza said.
Cartanza said a good test of tightness is to close the house’s vent boxes and turn on two ventilation fans. if the static pressure is 0.20 inch pressure or more, the house is considered tight.
If it’s 0.10-inch of pressure or less it’s considered loose and needs attention.
Controlling the houses relative humidity is another key to good ventilation, Cartanza said.
Cartanza said to think of a chicken house as bank account for moisture: Chickens make deposits, along with seepage and mixing air; manure holds the moisture like a sponge and the ventilation fans make the withdrawals.
Growers should aim for keeping the house at 60 percent and not go above 70 percent, she said.
Birds are growing larger faster and drinking more than even a few years ago and that means growers should manage the house differently to account for the increase in water usage.
Cartanza suggested to figure on usage at about 15 gallons per 1,000 birds per week.
For a flock of 24,000 birds, that’s about 50,000 gallons per flock.
“The ball game has changed so we have to change to accommodate that,” Cartanza said.
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