Chicken House Attics Can be Tapped to Warm
By Chris Guy
March 22, 2010
Reducing the cost of keeping broiler
chickens warm could result from research by Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists and university cooperators.
Insulating, ventilating and heating broiler chicken houses can be expensive,
especially when fuel prices are high, according to study leader
Purswell, an agricultural engineer at the ARS
Research Unit in Mississippi State, Miss. He worked with Barry Lott, a
retired professor at Mississippi State
University, to investigate ways to reduce the energy costs of heating
chicken houses, thus increasing profits for producers.
They found that the air that gathers in broiler house attics can be as much
as 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the air outside. The attic air is at least
5 degrees F warmer about 70 percent of the time.
Purswell and Lott developed a ventilation system that uses ceiling inlets to
redistribute solar-heated attic air, as opposed to bringing in cooler, outside
air. They began gathering data in 2006 from a Mississippi chicken producer who
installed several broiler houses based on their design.
The scientists concluded that circulating the warmer attic air within the
chicken houses reduced the demand for heating fuel by about 20 to 25 percent.
In one study in mild weather conditions, the technology reduced fuel use by 35
Similar technology has been applied to swine and layer facilities, but this
is the first research to examine whether the technology works with broiler
houses, which have a significantly different construction.
Commercial interest in the technology has increased with rising fuel prices
over the past several years, according to Purswell. That has prompted producers
throughout the broiler belt to request information on how to take advantage of
The ventilation system also reduces moisture and ammonia inside the houses,
improving air quality.
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.