In hot summer months, heat stress is a constant battle for producers. In broilers, heat stress can result in panting, increased water intake, decreased feed intake and eventually death.1 In swine, heat challenges have increased compared to 30 years ago, with sows generating 55-70% more metabolic heat. Add to that environmental heat, and the potential impact of heat stress rises. In swine, heat stress can cause animals to consume less feed. In addition, decreased fertility and milk production is seen in sows and decreased sperm quality in boars.2
Many poultry and swine producers rely on evaporative cooling systems to keep animal environments conducive to welfare standards and performance. When it comes to system performance, the most common challenges occur due to system failure from lack of routine maintenance.
Evaporative Cooling Systems: The Process
During the cooling process, only the pure water evaporates from cool cell pads, leaving behind any minerals or contaminates. In times of hot weather, tens of thousands of gallons of water can evaporate through cooling systems; overtime minerals build up and can become corrosive to pads, creating scale or softening pads.3
Water quality can affect the amount of buildup and timing of this process. Water high in alkalinity (pH) can see more concentrated levels of bicarbonates, carbonates, sulfates or hydroxides, which can become concentrated in the recirculation system, increasing pH further. Without flushing, the pH of the water could destroy pad cellulose or resin, which provides the rigidity necessary for performance.
In addition, dirt, dust and algae can buildup on pads, further affecting performance. Algae prevents pads from fully drying overnight, or in between cycles, wearing them down and creating an environment for further algae growth. Algae on the cool-cell system, specifically on the upper pipes that release the water, can clog the small holes blocking whole sections from receiving water. These blockages further reduce efficiency by creating dead-zones where the evaporation process will not occur.
Effects of Clogged Pads
When cool cell pads become clogged, whether from dirt, dust or mineral buildup, air cannot properly flow through the pads. Not only does this restrict the function of the evaporative cooling system, it also creates a vacuum, causing static pressure in the house to skyrocket. At that point, ventilation will be inefficient and moisture will not be removed from the house environment.
Maintaining Cool Cell Pads
Regular maintenance can delay the need for costly pad replacements. While pads are typically replaced all at once, some sections may require earlier replacement as they are more vulnerable to mineral build up. For example, pads in the front third of the house are at greater risk for mineral build up and clogs; since water is restricted at that point, pads in the middle are under less strain. Regardless, at about $21 a pad or $5,000 per house, regular maintenance to extend pad life is vital to the bottom line.
In a recent social media poll of producers, the top best practices for maintaining and extending the life of cool cell pads were identified as:
- wash them a couple times a year, followed by,
- have enough time to dry between cycles.
While it’s clear that pads need to be cleaned, the process is very labor-intensive and often inefficient as simply spraying pads with a hose is not effective on mineral buildup. On a four-house farm, the process could take a full week, which could cause shortcuts to be taken to reduce labor.
Extending Pad Life Further with the Help of SWASHCOOL-CELL™
When added to clean sump water, SWASHCOOL-CELL™ works to extend the life and maximize the efficiency of pads. As a simple, one-step treatment that takes roughly 30 minutes and can be done at any time in the production cycle, SWASHCOOL-CELL™ removes mineral scale and stains from algae to improve airflow and system efficiency. It also shortens cleaning time, allowing for adequate cleaning between flocks or groups even with tight turnaround times, and reduces drying time between cycles, keeping pads drier, longer so they can quickly return to full cooling capacity without developing algae stains.
SWASHCOOL-CELL™ can be applied to cool-cell pads that are already clean to prevent mineral scale and algae staining or to dirty cool-cell pads to clean and maintain them. Simply pour 1 gallon of SWASHCOOL-CELL™ directly into the sump for every 20 feet of cool-cell length. The product goes to work balancing the pH level of water, binding minerals and removing them from the pad, and dispersing dirt and dust so it won’t stick to the pads.
Keep in mind that very dirty pads will require an additional treatment as it takes time to remove the layers of mineral scale and embedded dirt. If the sump water fills with debris and dirt from the first treatment, but more debris remains on the pad, retreatment is necessary. Sump water will need to be dumped and refilled with fresh water prior to each additional treatment.
Learn more about how SWASHCOOL-CELL™ works and contact us to order.