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Simple Steps to Reduce Energy Costs


January 7, 2011
By Poultry Science Association (PSA)

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January 7, 2011 – A recent bulletin from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension identifies a number of straightforward measures that growers can implement to help bring down utility expenses, according to the Poultry Science Association (PSA).

January 7, 2011 – A recent bulletin
from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension identifies a
number of straightforward measures that growers can implement to help
bring down utility expenses, according to the Poultry Science
Association (PSA).

According to the bulletin, heating fuel and electricity costs account for almost 60 per cent of a typical broiler grower's variable production costs. Dr. Brian Fairchild, a University of Georgia Extension poultry scientist and one of the authors of the bulletin, notes that rising energy costs over the last decade have contributed to the need for growers to find more energy efficient means of heating and cooling their barns.

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"Growers recently have seen a considerable increase in the prices they pay for fuel and electricity. So there's been a big push in the last six or seven years to conserve energy in broiler live production. The trick, however, is to do so without turning down the thermostat in the broiler house. Fortunately, almost everything we've done to reduce energy costs has also helped to actually improve the environment for the birds," said Dr. Fairchild.

Energy efficiency of solid-wall vs. curtain-sided houses

In recent years there has been a trend toward solid wall construction for newer broiler houses. While there is little difference, according to the bulletin, in electrical cost data between solid- and curtain-wall houses, there is a significant difference in the usage of heating fuel, with solid-wall houses consuming considerably less. In a study conducted by the authors, solid-wall houses produced annual average savings of more than $2,100 per 20,000 sq. ft. of housing space.

The bulletin notes that rising fuel prices have further "encouraged producers to weatherproof and tighten houses to conserve energy."

Electrical usage tips

There is a wide range of annual electrical costs, according to the study. For example, annual electrical costs ranged from $1,620 to $5,148 per 20,000 sq. ft. Even with other possible factors taken into account for variability in electrical usage, it was clear, say the authors, that "regardless of house type and growing conditions, [for] growers with electrical usages toward the high end of the range…it is highly likely [they] can improve their bottom line profitability by improving their ventilation methods."

The authors suggest that growers can reduce electrical usage in their houses by taking the following steps:

    * Clean fans, shutters and screens, to help reduce the static pressure that fans are working against
    * Replace burned out motors with energy efficient motors
    * Replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient bulbs (but make sure that light intensity requirements are met. Many of the more energy-efficient bulbs do not produce the same amount of lumens or distribute light across the house in the same manner as incandescent light bulbs do)

Fuel usage tips

Similarly, steps can be taken to maximize the benefit of the fuel used. Among the measures the authors recommend are the following:

    * Minimize air leakage
    * Conduct regular static pressure tests – low static pressure is an indication that air is leaking through cracks and holes
    * Use appropriate circulation fans – in winter, using fans to move warmer air towards the floor has the effect of "improving air temperatures at bird level and increasing litter drying while reducing heater operation time"
    * Install insulated tunnel doors. This step alone, say the authors, can help reduce fuel costs by 10 per cent or more
    * Deploy migration fences – while normally used as a hot weather management tool, keeping birds spread out through the use of migration fences in the winter enables growers to use "bird heat to minimize heater operation time," thus reducing energy usage and preventing overcrowding of birds.

"By consistently practicing good energy management, broiler growers have the potential to significantly improve their energy usage and pare back utility costs," said Dr. Fairchild.

For more information go to:
http://www.poultryscience.org/pr010411.asp  or http://www. poultryventilation.engr.uga.edu