Energy saving in poultry farming
The rational and well-planned use of energy saving in poultry farming, it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and reduces costs for the producer.
Energy in poultry production systems has a direct impact on the thermoregulation of the birds, the ventilation of the house and the quality of the air. Therefore, the rational and well-planned use of energy saving in poultry farming, it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and reduces costs for the producer.
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Poultry meat consumption… on the rise?
The growth of the human population during the last decades goes hand in hand with the increasing demand of food. For this reason, the FAO mentions that the consumption of poultry meat from 1960 to 2017 increased from 9 to 122 million tons in those years. This is a significant figure that has made it necessary to improve and optimize the world’s poultry production systems to increase the production of meat and eggs. To achieve this, the energy invested in these processes also increases and it becomes necessary to implement measures to save energy.
According to FAO (2013), the production of food of animal origin, specifically birds, constitutes an important tool in the fight against malnutrition on the planet thanks to the fact that they provide a high quality protein source at a very low cost. On the other hand, it is the livestock production system that generates the least environmental impact and the one that requires the least water.
Even so, it is necessary to know how energy is used in a poultry farm and how we can reduce its use to the maximum to generate environmentally sustainable productions, reduce costs and improve the quality of production.
What energy do poultry farms use?
In these modern times, we have intensive production poultry houses where we can find concentrations of hundreds of thousands of meat or egg-producing birds in closed houses with a controlled environment. This type of environmental system is regulated and supported thanks to heating, ventilation, lighting and cooling equipment, among others.
On the one hand, in some poultry production systems processes such as the supply of feed and water available to the animals have been systematized, through equipment and machinery for these tasks. This has allowed an exact management in the quantities of feed supplied, thus avoiding its waste or possible deficiencies at a certain time. It should be noted that feed is recognized as the input that requires the most investment in any poultry production system, hence its importance to optimize its provision to the maximum. Likewise, the management of water through automatic mechanical systems avoids wasting it and reduces the problems associated with beds with excess humidity (which favor the appearance of diseases).
Additionally, other processes of great importance where technologies are implemented to improve their efficiency are, for example, the collection of eggs through an automatic conveyor belt and the use of fans to maintain an ideal temperature and humidity in the shed. The first mentioned technology makes egg collection faster and safer. The second, is of vital importance to guarantee a correct thermoregulation of the birds and thus avoid stress in them due to changes in temperature and humidity that are reflected in a decrease in posture or daily weight gain.
Therefore, while these technologies require a considerable amount of energy to operate, with them comes the optimization of those processes. Avoiding feed and water waste, reducing egg losses, and guaranteeing a controlled and stable environment for the birds, translate into significant energy savings.
Energy consumption will totally depend on the type of production: for example, it depends on whether we specialize in egg or meat production; also, of the characteristics and ages of the birds; even the geographical location and atmospheric conditions where the farm is situated must be considered; among other. Thus, when carrying out an evaluation of the buildings, we can always find critical points with energy saving opportunities.
What recommendations can I apply to save energy?
Regardless of the type of production, poultry houses can save energy through small actions such as:
- Change the type of lighting, inside and outside the warehouses. That is, replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or energy-saving ones.
- Cleaning and do regular mechanical maintenance of ventilation systems to avoid forced labor of these and that demand more energy for their correct operation.
- Carefully take care of the thermal insulation of the building, thus avoiding temperature changes that demand high energy to re-establish the environment.
- Try to reduce the amounts of ammonia in the litter and avoid water losses through damaged pipes, which increase the relative humidity and alter the stability of the environment.
What should I keep in mind about lighting on the farm?
Poultry houses use a significant amount of energy to guarantee the contribution of light in the different phases of the growth of the birds. In general, poultry houses usually use light at maximum intensity for up to 23 hours. Therefore, in a production cycle for broilers which lasts an average of 49 days, approximately 900 hours of electricity would be used; if incandescent bulbs are used, the electricity consumption is between 2,600 and 3,000 kWh.
Therefore, it is clear that investing in energy saving and high efficiency bulbs contributes to saving energy in poultry production. In addition, we must bear in mind that incandescent lighting uses only 20% of electricity and releases the other 80% in the form of heat, which increases the need to implement a ventilation and cooling system inside the buildings to counteract this effect. Fluorescent or high-pressure sodium bulbs use minimal energy to produce similar amounts of light, as well as having greater durability.
Temperature control… what do I need to know?
The insulation of poultry houses must be optimized according to the outside temperature of the area. Regarding the installation itself, we have that buildings with fixed and solid side walls will always be more efficient in maintaining the temperature than those open buildings with drapes.
It is proven that sheds of considerable width (between 15 and 20 meters) consume 15% less fuel. However, if you do not have this type of facility, it is advisable to invest in new materials that allow us the best thermal insulation of the shed. Also, proper maintenance and review of the insulation materials located in ceilings, walls and drapes is necessary, which may be worn or eventually damaged.
It is worth highlighting here alternative energies such as solar energy. The implementation of a solar panel system provides the opportunity to use both heating and ventilation at a lower price. We can also use this same solar energy to generate electrical energy. Despite representing a considerable cost at the time of installation, they can become economically viable in later years and compensate the investment made with the energy savings and associated costs.
Finally, to achieve considerable energy savings in our poultry production, we must take into account all the parameters mentioned here. In addition, energy savings in poultry farming is directly related to the proper management and maintenance of our facilities; this will be reflected in better production parameters, better animal welfare and ideal working conditions for the staff.
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