Heating and ventilation issues in poultry houses

A smoke test will indicate where energy leaks exist

On Monday afternoon, Feb. 13, I visited a farm outside Millsboro that was experiencing heating and ventilation problems. This farm had purchased two new high performance timer fans and was only able to pull .05 static pressure.

After much investigation a smoke test revealed that air was leaking around the foundation where the sill plate meets the block foundation. I recommended to the grower that he seal this area with a commercial sealer. Static pressure tests are performed on a closed poultry house with 2- 36 inch fans or one 48 inch fan running to pull a vacuum. All areas should be completely closed to pull maximum static pressure.

Smoke from an insect fogger (using baby oil), a commercial smoke stick or even a bee smoker can then be used to direct smoke outside the house along the foundation, sidewall or any suspect areas where the affected area will pull the smoke into the building. This leak can now be easily seen. ~ Bill Brown

Local news article highlights challenges to the poultry industry

Thanks to Ron MacArthur for his recent article in the Cape Gazette (Feb. 10) 2012.

2011: A challenging year for the poultry industry

A perfect storm of economic, weather and regulatory factors combined to make 2011 one of the most challenging years on record for area poultry farmers.

Leading the storm is the escalating price of corn and soybean meal used to feed chickens, which makes up two-thirds of farmers’ costs. Delmarva’s poultry farmers spent $1 billion on feed in 2011, a 40 percent increase, or $400 million, from the previous year, which cuts right into farmers’ bottom lines.

Read the complete Cape Gazette article here

Responsible manure practices

Environmentally responsible manure pile

Many poultry farms across the Delmarva are now cleaning out their poultry barns and staging these nutrients for use as an organic fertilizer. All farmers on the shore operate their farms under state approved science-based nutrient management plans. These plans ( many of which are now P based) allow farmers to use poultry litter at a  phosphorus crop removal rate. Many farmers also use a p site index which factors in soil and land characteristics to determine if manure can be used on site specific fields . This picture shows a properly environmentally responsible manure pile. Its conical shape and height  maximizes nutrient retention while its location away from ditching and the use of crop residues eliminate the possibility to soluble surface transport.

Respiratory Health Webinar offered on Feb. 15

DATE:   February 15, 2012 at 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

SPEAKER:  John May, M.D., with Bassett Hospital and New York Center for Agriculture Medicine and Health

Our Extension partners, Mid-Atlantic AgrAbility are holding a webinar workshop on Respiratory Health. The agricultural workplace has long been associated with respiratory diseases.  Respiratory disease is among the main chronic health conditions affecting farmers, agricultural workers, greenhouse and nursery workers, veterinarians, and grain handling workers.  While significant exposure leading to acute disease have decreased, it is estimated that there has been a significant increase in sub-acute and chronic respiratory diseases associated with agricultural confinement facilities.

Exposures to organic dusts, molds, bacteria, and gases such as from the fermentation of manure and silage will lead to respiratory illnesses, often with overlapping clinical signs and symptoms.  Other respiratory hazards include inorganic dusts, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals.

Don’t miss this informative webinar to learn more about respiratory hazards, respiratory protection and supporting farmers with respiratory illnesses. 


Dr. May is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.  His training in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Disease was at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY and at the University of Colorado Medical Center. For most of the past 30 years,

he has practiced pulmonary medicine at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, NY. Over this time he has worked increasingly on occupational health problems affecting people in agriculture. As Director of the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), Dr. May leads one of nine regional centers for agricultural safety and health designated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.   The Northeast Center has active projects in a number of northeastern and middle Atlantic states.  Through this work, Dr. May has acquired experience in a variety of approaches to public health intervention.  He also serves as director of the Bassett Research Institute.


Please visit www.mid-atlanticagrability.com and follow the link to learn more about the webinar and complete the webinar registration form which is located in the news section of the home page.  You may also go directly to http://ag.udel.edu/rec/Staff/Jester/respiratoryhealthwebinar.html and register for the event.  The Webinar is free. Registration is limited so please register as soon as possible.


The webinar will be conducted using Adobe Connect. High speed Internet is recommended.If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:

Test your connection: http://ud-canr.adobeconnect.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm

Registrants will receive a link to connect to the webinar by Feb. 10, 2012.

UD Extension conducts field workshops for Delmarva poultry growers

This is one of three grower field workshops the University of Delaware recently conducted for area poultry growers. A local integrator partnered with UD’s poultry team to provide hands-on education on topics like Winter Ventilation and Litter Management, Litter Reconditioning and Nipple Drinker Management. Other training included animal welfare and food safety. Here are some of the pictures from our most recent session:

A Delmarva poultry house serves as a classroom

Steven Collier left and I (Bill Brown) right, demonstrate house leakage principles using colored water:

Greg Griffith, regional sales manager for Ivesco, demonstrates how to seal a foundation plate to improve ventilation and avoid drafting birds:

Greg Griffith

Here, I am demonstrating the importance of insulation in reaching the required R values to reduce heat transfer and condensation. This is another ventilation basic:

Knowing the correct R value for your poultry house is crucial

My colleague, Steven Collier uses a smoke stick to visualize the movement of air through mixing fans while I explain the heat stratification and how mixing fans improve fuel cost and litter conditions:

Smoke test

In this last photo, you see I am holding a sponge. This exercise demonstrates the moisture holding properties of air in a chicken house as it is heated. This is another ventilation basic. (You will notice the smoke from the aforementioned smoke test had not yet settled!):

Relative humidity

Posted by MDW on behalf of Bill Brown, UD poultry Extension agent

Delaware Poultry Extension conducts Nurtrient Management Sessions during Ag Week 2012

We were pleased to play a significant role during Delaware Ag Week 2012, by presenting a variety of sessions at the Carvel REC and Harrington sites last week. The events were part of Extension’s ongoing mission to present unbiased research to the agricultural community and poultry growers in Delmarva.

Brown moderated well-attended Nutrient Management sessions at Carvel on Jan. 18, 2012

At the Carvel Georgetown location, more than 130 people attended sessions on Composting Revisited and Adding  Value to Compost and Litter (Bill Brown), What Poultry Farmers Need to Know About the Farm Bill, (Jayme Arthurs and Timothy Garrahan), CAFO Inspections: What’s Good and What Can Be Improved (W. Larry Towle), Future of Poultry Bedding on Delmarva (Tommy Johnson) and Soil Phosphorous: What Goes Up, Must Come Down, But When? (Dr. Frank Coale).  Please visit Delaware Ag Week 2012 website and gallery of images for additional information.

UDel Extension to hold Solar Technology workshops for Poultry Growers

The University of Delaware in cooperation with the Delaware Department of Agriculture invites the agricultural community to a Delaware Agricultural Solar Workshop Wednesday Feb.29at the Carvel Research and Education Center on route 9 in Georgetown, Del. There will be two sessions offered from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.

The program will highlight findings from a 2011 DDA study and report titled SOLAR TECHNOLOGY GUIDE & RESOURCES V 1.10. Workshop participants were involved with this study and will be presenting up-to-date information about solar technology. Topics will include facts about the current solar regulatory environment, financial incentives, site evaluations, technology & financing options. The program will conclude with a panel of two poultry growers explaining their operations and their experiences with solar followed by a question and answer period.

To register, please email Karen Adams or call Karen at 302-856-2585 ext.540 Seating is limited and will be on a first call basis. There is no cost for attending.

UPDATE: Agenda



2:00 p.m.       Welcome –  Cory Whaley  Ag Agent

                      Opening Remarks –  Ed Kee,  Delaware Secretary of Agriculture

2:10 p.m.       Introduction of Speakers –  Bill Brown, state poultry Extension agent

                      Solar Technology Basics –   Dr. Jim Glancey, UD

2:30               Overview of Solar Technology in Delaware –  Brian White

                      Feasibility Considerations –    Barry Yerger

                      Determining if Solar is Right for Your  Operation-  Brian Yerger,
Dale Davis

3:15               Experiences with Solar (Grower Panel) –  Robbie Isaacs,
Dan Heller

3:35               Questions & Answers


Session One 2 – 4 p.m.

Session Two 6 – 8 p.m.