The detrimental effects of heat stress can be seen across all types of birds: increased mortality in broilers, decreased egg production and quality in layers, and decreased weight in turkeys to name a few. Evaporative cooling and ventilation systems work to create growing environments ideal for bird performance. But what happens when systems aren’t functioning at their target capacity?
Turns out small changes in system efficiency can make a big impact on bird performance and profitability. Research conducted at Mississippi State University by Dr. Berry Lott studied the impact of a decrease in air speed on bird performance. The study showed that birds grown at 400 fpm vs. 600 fpm conditions lost roughly 6% in weight!
Image c/o USGS Water Science School
The Power of Evaporative Cooling Pads
A properly maintained evaporative cool pad system can reduce the incoming air temperature up to 30 degrees, depending on humidity levels. The biggest challenge to these systems is minimizing the buildup of mineral scale which resembles cement or small pebbles around the flutes of the pad. In severe cases, the mineral buildup can be seen across the entire pad which can restrict airflow and possibly increase static pressure, thereby reducing fan efficiency and lowering airspeeds.
When pads fail and require replacement, the average cost is $20/pad or roughly $4,000 per house. Despite this high cost, the biggest challenges to effectively operating and maintaining evaporative cooling systems are things that can be avoided with routine maintenance, such as:
Failure to cleans pads. Adequately cleaning the evaporative cooling system and pads can take five to six days for a 4-house broiler farm. This is a task roughly 85% of growers neglect according to our recent focus group with live production personnel!
Only cleaning pad exteriors. The majority of mineral buildup challenges can be found two to three inches inside the pads and inside the doghouse. To be effective, pads must be removed between flocks and lightly pressure washed at least twice during warm months.
System leaks. Leaks, clogged pipes, overflowing sumps and wasted water are commonly seen during warmer months.
Not checking water quality. Mineral scale buildup is more of an issue in certain areas due to water quality.
Five Ways to Extend Cool Cell Pad Life
Cleaning mineral deposits from evaporative cool cell pads is essential to maintain the cooling efficiency of the system and extending pad life. But improper cleaning can leave the mineral scale problem unresolved, and the pads can be damaged.
- Prevention is key. With newer pads, a little prevention can go a long way. Using SWASHCOOL-CELL™ once per flock can help extend the life and maximize the efficiency of pads.
- Understand your water quality. Get your water tested so you understand what challenges you are likely to face (calcium, sulfur, hardness, pH, alkalinity, etc.)
- Dump reservoir. During hot months, dump the water from your pad reservoir 1-2 times each month.
- Clean water filters. Dirt, insects and other debris can clog water distribution headers and filters. A weekly cleaning routine can ensure sufficient water flows to the pads throughout the flock.
- Be gentle. Cool cell pads are not made to withstand harsh brushing. Remove the scale with gentle brushing. Never use chlorine bleach, acid or high-pressure water as they can reduce pad life.
Need a refresher on how to care for your system as a whole? Download and print our system maintenance tips to ensure you’re doing everything possible to get the most from your evaporative cooling system.
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