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?
While the need for evaporative cooling systems is ending for the season, it’s important to remember that investing time now to properly winterize your system can significantly contribute to optimal functionality in the spring.
Each year, more than $20 million in property losses and between 40 and 50 injuries occur from combine and tractor fires1. In addition to fire risk, a build-up of dust, dry chaff, leaves and other organic material can hinder equipment performance. Routine cleaning and maintenance along with basic operational precautions go a long way in preventing costly fires.
Evaporative cooling pad systems have become an essential part of today’s tunnel-ventilated poultry house cooling system. When properly installed and maintained, they have the potential to decrease the temperature of incoming air by 20°F or more1! However, when not properly maintained, not only can the efficiency and life of this system be dramatically reduced, it may also negatively impact the air speed of tunnel fans.
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
As producers work to remove moisture from poultry houses, it’s important to understand that temperature plays a critical role in the amount of water air can hold. Humidity describes how much water is in the air; for example, at 100% RH air is at its maximum water holding capacity, while at 90% RH the air can absorb a little more water. Humidity levels of 40% allow for the air to absorb a significant amount of moisture which can then be removed from the house through ventilation.
Increasing temperatures in spring and summer cause sow body temperatures to rise along with them. Prior to farrowing, ideal ambient temperature for sows is 65-68°F. At the time of farrowing, the target is 72°F. Excess heat can cause stress, which can cause costly problems, including a drop in feed intake, particularly during lactation. When sows lose body weight, it can impact pig weaning weight, farrowing rate and litter size.
Warmer weather is on its way, and for some parts of the country, the temperatures are already climbing. Although spring has just begun, it is time to prepare your sow barns for the longer, hotter days ahead.
At roughly $5,000 per house, cool cell pads are one of most expensive housing investments producers make. With winter temperatures above average and spring temperatures expected to bring much of the same across the U.S., the role of evaporative cooling systems cannot be understated.
What is your challenge in keeping your cool-cell pads clean?
That’s the question we asked our Facebook audience last month. “Dust and dirt” was the leading response, followed by “algae stains,” “hard water,” “iron,” and “all of the above.”
We were surprised to learn, however, that growers on many farms don’t differentiate between algae stains, mineral build-up, or dust and dirt — all they know is that they’re struggling to keep their cool-cell pads clean, and they’ll do whatever it takes to resolve those challenges.
Too often, this leads people to utilize treatment options that are ultimately ineffective at attacking the true issue at hand.