Poultry producers from 14 states and 16 countries converged on the Oconee County Civic Center this week to learn how to keep their chickens cool this summer.
The two-and-a-half day Poultry Tunnel Ventilation Workshop, coordinated by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Poultry Science, is a spring tradition for poultry and allied industry personnel. Each year they receive training on the latest methods, principles and science related to poultry house ventilation before the heat of the summer.
This year's takeaway message is that birds produce more heat than most people think, and although evaporative cooling is critically important, poultry producers should rely more on the air movement created by their ventilation fans to cool their birds. In addition to these basic principles, workshop participants left with the tools they needed to calculate specific cooling scenarios for their poultry houses.
Poultry need to be kept at a relatively constant temperature to avoid stress and grow efficiently. Poultry farmers use a combination of fans, to produce wind speed, and evaporative cooling to keep birds comfortable. The objective of the workshop is to teach company personnel, growers and allied industries how to design and operate these systems efficiently to provide the best possible environment for the birds.
“If we keep the birds at the optimum temperature, we minimize their stress,” said UGA poultry science professor Brian Fairchild, who helped organize the conference. “Minimizing stress allows birds to use most of the calories they take in for growth and development.”
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. This workshop is an outgrowth of that pioneering work and is coordinated by poultry science UGA Extension faculty members Mike Czarick and John Worley, both agricultural engineers, and Brian Fairchild, a poultry physiologist.
“We are like myth-busters in a way,” Fairchild said. “We take methods currently being employed by producers and explain the science and engineering behind why they may or may not work … there is a need in the poultry industry for this information, and as Extension scientists, we respond to that need.”
More than 130 broiler service managers, farmers, poultry construction specialists and other poultry industry representatives, some from as far away as New Zealand, attended this year’s conference. More than 240 others participated online through a webcast system.
In the fall, Czarick, Fairchild and Worley will host a cold-weather ventilation workshop that will attract a similarly large crowd of participants. For more information about future UGA poultry production workshops visit poultry.uga.edu/extension/eduprogact.htm.
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)