Researcher: New poultry heating system cuts cost

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - A newly developed heating system uses

attic space inside broiler houses to reduce power usage, improve

energy efficiency and keep poultry warmer, a Mississippi State

University researcher says.

Jody Purswell, an agricultural engineer with U.S. Department of

Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service at MSU's Poultry

Research Unit, says the new technology that he developed was

installed in a broiler house in Mississippi.

"Initial testing demonstrated that the attic inlet system

significantly reduced furnace and brooder usage," Purswell said.

"We found that it can reduce gas heat costs by 20 percent to 25

percent. It is basically getting extra energy for free."

Purswell said the attic temperature of broiler houses stays

about six degrees to 14 degrees warmer than the outside


By installing attic inlets, the heat is pulled out of the attic

and circulated throughout the poultry house, keeping the birds warm

without using more gas.

David Hudson, a poultry grower in Laurel, said he and Purswell

installed the vents in two of his broiler houses.

"The system really helps with keeping the young birds warmer,

especially during their first three weeks," he said. "It has

gotten colder earlier this year, so I've already started using the

attic inlets to keep the new chicks warm."

Hudson monitors the attic inlet system carefully.

"There is no doubt that I am using less gas to heat the

houses," he said. "And there's definitely better air quality in

those two houses. It makes a big difference."

Purswell's preliminary research also showed that the use of

preheated air from the attic can reduce moisture in poultry houses.

"Excessive moisture in the house increases ammonia

production," Purswell said. "We want to look at how the system

can be used to inexpensively heat houses between flocks to help dry

the litter and reduce the amount of ammonia present when new chicks


The research for this new technology has been under way for two


Purswell plans to work with growers like Hudson to make

comparisons between the poultry houses with the system and those

without. Purswell and his team will install gas meters in poultry

houses to better measure usage.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)