UGA poultry experts release first app to help farmers ventilate poultry houses during cold weather
By Merritt Melancon
University of Georgia poultry housing experts have released the state’s first app to help poultry farmers determine how much they should ventilate their houses during cold weather.
With thousands of birds living in a single house, keeping the air warm and fresh without spending a fortune on fuel during the winter can be one of the toughest challenges for broiler producers. The new app, called “CHKMINVENT,” is meant to simplify this process, said Mike Czarick, a poultry housing engineer at UGA’s Department of Poultry Science.
“In the summertime, ventilation is fairly straightforward. A producer knows that if they have older birds and it is hot, they are going to operate all of their tunnel fans. There really is no question about it. The more air they can move through the house, the better off their birds will be,” he said. “In the winter, there is so much more at stake. Ventilate too much and you will have excessive energy costs and stressed birds. Ventilate too little you will have poor air quality and wet litter, which can lead to poor performance and health. You really have to be much more thoughtful about how much you operate your fans.”
The app, available through Apple’s App Store, allows farmers to enter variables, such as the outside temperature, the amount of water the chickens consume, the temperature inside the house and the size of the poultry house’s fans. It then calculates how long farmers need to run their fans in order to remove excess moisture from the house and keep the chickens at a comfortable temperature.
The programming in the background of the app that handles the calculations is based on years of research into poultry housing and on a series of spreadsheets that Czarick and fellow UGA Cooperative Extension poultry faculty members Brian Fairchild and John Worley have developed to help farmers with these calculations.
“The app gives people a starting point as to how much fresh air they need to bring in to control house air quality and litter moisture. It’s not intended to provide a precise minimum ventilation rate. It’s going to take adjusting, but this at least gives a scientifically based place to start,” Czarick said.
UGA’s Department of Poultry Science is unique in that it has a history of using science and engineering to provide solutions for poultry producers. Poultry scientists and engineers at UGA pioneered research on bird cooling, bird stress and poultry housing systems in the 1990s and continue to be experts in this field today. For more about poultry housing research and outreach, visit poultryventilation.com. For more information about the Department of Poultry Science visit poultry.uga.edu.
For more information about the CHKMINVENT app, search for it on Apple’s App Store. For now, the app is only available for iPhone, but the team may develop versions for other operating systems based on demand for this initial version.