Researcher: New poultry heating system cuts cost

Published 12:24 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A newly developed heating system uses attic space inside broiler houses to reduce power usage, improve energy efficiency and keep poultry warmer, a Mississippi State University researcher says.

Jody Purswell, an agricultural engineer with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service at MSU’s Poultry Research Unit, says the new technology that he developed was installed in a broiler house in Mississippi.

“Initial testing demonstrated that the attic inlet system significantly reduced furnace and brooder usage,” Purswell said. “We found that it can reduce gas heat costs by 20 percent to 25 percent. It is basically getting extra energy for free.”

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Purswell said the attic temperature of broiler houses stays about six degrees to 14 degrees warmer than the outside temperature.

By installing attic inlets, the heat is pulled out of the attic and circulated throughout the poultry house, keeping the birds warm without using more gas.

David Hudson, a poultry grower in Laurel, said he and Purswell installed the vents in two of his broiler houses.

“The system really helps with keeping the young birds warmer, especially during their first three weeks,” he said. “It has gotten colder earlier this year, so I’ve already started using the attic inlets to keep the new chicks warm.”

Hudson monitors the attic inlet system carefully.

“There is no doubt that I am using less gas to heat the houses,” he said. “And there’s definitely better air quality in those two houses. It makes a big difference.”

Purswell’s preliminary research also showed that the use of preheated air from the attic can reduce moisture in poultry houses.

“Excessive moisture in the house increases ammonia production,” Purswell said. “We want to look at how the system can be used to inexpensively heat houses between flocks to help dry the litter and reduce the amount of ammonia present when new chicks arrive.”

The research for this new technology has been under way for two years.

Purswell plans to work with growers like Hudson to make comparisons between the poultry houses with the system and those without. Purswell and his team will install gas meters in poultry houses to better measure usage.