Optimising ventilation and heating management

Partner(s): Grimaud Frères

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In farm buildings, manage a ventilation adapted to the species being reared and its physiological stage, is a key factor in the well-being of the animals and the expression of their genetic potential, while guaranteeing the comfort of the breeders. By renewing the air inside the facilities, ventilation firstly eliminates the humidity released by the poultry, which can accumulate in the bedding, atmosphere and surfaces of the buildings. Ventilation also ensures sufficient oxygenation by eliminating heavy gases.

Ventilation design

It is essential to regulate both air flow and temperature according to the specific needs of the poultry at the different stages of production. Efficient ventilation is characterised by ability to maintain sufficient air renewal in the building without temperature fluctuation in winter and with the creation of air velocity in summer.

Ventilation design must take into account the effective elimination of excessive humidity, a factor that encourages the spread of respiratory diseases and the deterioration of air and bedding quality. Uniform air distribution throughout the rearing space is also essential to avoid air stagnation points and dead zones where air circulation is insufficient. Smoke tests can be carried out to analyse the air flow in the building and adjust ventilation accordingly. The ventilation systems chosen must be adapted to the configuration of the building (length, width, height and geographical area).

Adjusting ventilation according to air requirements

Calculating the air requirement, expressed in “cubic metres per hour per animal present” or per “kilogram present in the building”, makes it possible to size the number of extractors and air intake hatches. The correct positioning of temperature sensors is also crucial for accurate monitoring of the building environment. The sensors should be placed in the areas where the animals live, and at the same height as they are, to give an indication of the quality of the air they are breathing. In fact, in livestock buildings, there is often stratification of the air, which makes the data inaccurate if the sensors are not placed in the right place and at the right height.

During periods of higher density or extreme weather conditions, adjusting the air flow keeps optimal circulation while controlling the temperature inside the building. It is essential to prevent excessive heat or cooling, which could compromise the health and growth of the poultry.

In summer, the use of high-pressure foggers or cooling systems helps prevent heatstroke and keep the poultry breeding performance. In winter, efficient heating management balances temperatures and facilitates ventilation and the evacuation of water present in the building: the warmer the air, the more water it can carry. Appropriate insulation minimises heat loss or limits the heating of the building.

Monitoring ventilation settings

Precise monitoring of humidity and air quality is also essential to ensure the poultry well-being. Optimum humidity levels are generally between 60 and 75%, while CO2 levels must remain below 3,000 ppm to ensure adequate air quality. Ventilation systems can be configured to monitor and maintain these criteria, perhaps supplemented by the use of humidifiers or dehumidifiers if necessary. In addition, ventilation systems are often able to correct ventilation levels according to the humidity values they measure in the building, in order to optimize animal comfort.

Finally, to optimise the efficiency of ventilation in livestock buildings, it is important to take into account the orientation of the building in relation to the path of the sun and prevailing winds. In this way, it will be possible to position the air inlets and outlets to best suit the climatic conditions specific to the geographical area of production. Efficient management of ventilation and heating creates an optimum environment for the growth, health and performance of poultry, maximising their genetic potential at every stage of production. By maintaining optimal environmental conditions, farmers can improve feed conversion, reduce mortality rates and optimise the genetic potential of the animals.

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GP & PS Breeder production director


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