Converting Poultry Houses into Growing Facilities

Converting Poultry Houses into Growing Facilities

With many poultry houses being retired or unused, there has been an interest in converting these houses into indoor lighted hydroponic growing facilities. All over the US, unused facilities such as warehouses are being converted for growing vegetables and herbs (such as leafy greens and basil). This has been made possible by the decrease in lighting cost with LED grow lights.

There are some specific areas to address in poultry house conversions because of produce food safety.

1) Poultry equipment
Prior to renovation, remove all feeders, brooders, and waterers and associated cables and pulleys. Determine what wiring will be kept and remove any that will not be used.

2) Floors
Remove all litter completely with attention paid to side walls and then excavate the top 2-6 inches of floor. Apply alum to lower the pH of the remaining floor (eliminates ammonia release). Cover the floor area with 2-6 inches of clean fill soil and then then cover the whole area with impervious geotextile fabric.

3) Ceiling
if the ceiling is intact and in good condition remove all loose dust, cobwebs, and other loose materials using a commercial grade vacuum (if ceiling is in poor condition, it may have to be replaced with a cleanable covering). Sanitize the ceiling with appropriate materials that have activity against pathogens. Dry sanitizers will reduce wetting and may be most appropriate. Cover the ceiling with 6 mil white poly plastic.

4) Walls, doors
if the wall is intact and in good condition remove all loose dust, cobwebs, and other loose materials using a commercial grade vacuum (if the wall is in poor condition, it may have to be replaced). Sanitize walls with appropriate materials that have activity against pathogens. Dry sanitizers will reduce wetting and may be most appropriate. Cover walls with 6 mil white poly plastic. Doors should be replaced.

5) Vents, fans, and pads
If side vents are to be used, vacuum and dry sanitize vent boxes, cables, and pulleys. Cool pad vents should be replaced with new pads and water systems should be sanitized. Fans and fan housings should be cleaned completely and then dry sanitized.

6) Heaters
Heaters should be removed and replaced with new vented heaters or other alternative heating. Heat the house for 4-7 days at greater than 120 F for the final pathogen kill step.

7) Installation of growing systems
Install new wiring for lighting and control systems and then install grow lights. Install appropriate plumbing and water treatment systems. Install hydroponic growing systems and associated tanks and pumps (deep water/tank, drip/bucket, or nutrient film/gutter system).

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