Winterization of poultry houses and poultry flocks should begin BEFORE the onset of winter. Preparation suggestions of ways to save money and protect birds, provided by the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture, are as follows:
Ensure tunnel curtains properly close
Replace any loose or damaged curtain strings
Check the sidewall air inlet vents to make sure they close completely when minimum ventilation fans are not running and that they also open uniformly
Make sure your incoming air is directed toward the ceiling so it warms sufficiently before contacting the birds
Make sure minimum ventilation fans, shutters, screens and blades are cleaned after each flock
Check belts on belt-driven fans after each flock and replace those that are worn or loose
Use fan covers on tunnel fans during the winter
If air cannons are used, make sure they are clear and open
Make sure load out and entrance doors seal properly
Check that windows have a tight seal
Use weather stripping or spray foam insulation to seal cracks and air leaks
Inspect ceiling and sidewall insulation for cracks, holes, and open seams - repairs such as caulk, seaming tape, etc. should be made
Turn off water to cool cells and drain cool cell systems
Wrap exposed pipes with insulation to prevent freezing
Disconnect any rubber hoses from PVC fittings to prevent freezing, cracking, or water leakage
Clean and maintain ceiling fans so hot air from the ceiling can be mixed and recirculated to prevent temperature stratification (utilization of hot air at ceiling level will help reduce fuel usage)
Monitor all house environmental controls to know what static pressure is present when the minimum ventilation fans are running (In the winter, static pressure should be in the .08 to .10 range which indicates a reasonably airtight house. Static pressure in this range will allow efficient operation of the heating and ventilation systems and uniform mixing of incoming cold air from attic or sidewall air inlets before it contacts the birds)
Inspect temperature sensors ahead of flock placement to make sure they are all working properly
Inspect brooders to make sure the igniters and electronic circuits are all in proper working order
Clear burner orifices of all brooders and stoves of dust, spider webs, or other obstructions
Inspect thermostats to ensure they are accurate and functioning properly
Make sure there is at least 4°F difference between heating and cooling set points (any less and heating and cooling systems will occur at the same time and be in competition)
Keep a daily record of the house temperatures
Determine which houses use the most fuel
When no birds are in the house, make sure no feed is in the lines and bins and ensure the feed bin is secure and the lid closes tightly to prevent rodents
Repair or replace damaged feed lines and receptacles
Make sure no feed is leaking outside to prevent rodents and wild birds
Set the temperature control in the house, when out of birds, to maintain at least 36°F to 40°F temperature to prevent water lines from freezing
Inspect and repair all bait stations as needed
Recharge bait stations with fresh bait since, with the onset of cool weather, mice and other rodents will be looking for a warm place to spend the winter
Consider the addition of a litter amendment. Litter amendments can reduce the pH of the litter, which will help with ammonia levels. This in turn will reduce minimum ventilation rates, thus helping with fuel consumption early in the flock.
DO NOT wait until disaster strikes to find out you are insufficiently covered.
Did you know that 92% of Contract Poultry Growers are underinsured and could not recover from a major disaster? Every year family poultry farms go bankrupt because of some sort of catastrophic event after which they realized their insurance programs were woefully insufficient. Do not let this happen to you. Make sure to prepare your farm AND your insurance for disasters.
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