Traditional ventilation systems aim to minimise heat loss while preventing the build-up of excessive CO2 and humidity, which require the birds to consume more feed to achieve the same weight. This compromise has to be adjusted as the birds get older and ought to be, but is not always, adjusted to account for seasonal changes in ambient temperature and humidity.
There are many purposes for ventilation:
- Supply oxygen-laden fresh air
- Cooling: removal of heat released during respiration and activity, and also the solar gain through the structure, particularly in the summer.
- Drying: remove moisture from the air (released during respiration or evaporating moisture in the droppings). If the litter is allowed to get wet then the production of ammonia will increase.
- Remove harmful gases (carbon dioxide released during breathing or ammonia created by microbes operating on water in the litter).
- Remove dust particles suspended in the air from the skin of the birds.
- Dilute disease-causing organisms in the air.
As can be seen, greater ventilation has many benefits but requires the grower to burn more propane.
As margins are tight, profitability may depend on how well individual farm managers respond daily to bird appearance, weather and house conditions while containing their propane costs.
Using a cheap source of fuel for heating houses offers growers to change over from operating minimum ventilation rates to optimum ventilation rates.
|Farmers use propane burners to directly heat the air in a house. Every tonne of LPG used introduces 1.6 tonnes of water and 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide directly into the house. This process also uses up oxygen and should this get too low carbon monoxide can also be created. The unwanted gases must be removed through ventilation. The replacement fresh air from outside needs to be warmed. This results in even greater use of propane. As propane is expensive, growers try to use as little as possible. Low ventilation rates raise humidity, create wet litter and ammonia and compromise bird health.|
The drying effect of ventilation
Optimum ventilation provides more heat and draws a greater volume of air through the house, in order to manage house humidity. This, coupled with not introducing the gases associated with LPG combustion, results in better growing conditions.
Because chickens drink a lot of water and enjoy a warm environment, the Relative Humidity in the house can be high. If the air outside is colder, its ability to carry vapour is reduced. The Relative Humidity of the air may be higher than inside but due to the temperatures it may still be desirable to increase ventilation. When the cold air is brought into the house and heated up its water carrying potential is increased and its relative humidity is decreased. Brining in this air and removing existing air then has a ‘drying effect’.