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Auburn Tyson off grid poultry barn.jpg Auburn University
Auburn University and Tyson Foods are partnering on a research project in Cullman County, Ala., comparing a solar-powered poultry house, shown in the foreground, to a normal poultry house powered by standard electricity.

Tyson, Auburn to research off-grid poultry housing

Stand-alone, solar-powered broiler poultry house will be key to informing sustainable energy practices at scale.

Auburn University’s National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC), a leader in poultry housing and associated technologies for more than a decade, and Tyson Foods Inc. announced June 5 the opening of the largest stand-alone, solar-powered poultry house to be operated completely off the grid.

The 54 ft. x 500 ft. poultry house is located in Cullman County, Ala., and is capable of housing 36,000 broilers, the university said.

It will be one of two identical houses on Tim and Selena Butts’ farm, where 5.5 lb. broilers will be grown. One will be the control house, while the other house will be operated exclusively by solar power and will be known as "stand-alone solar for poultry" (SASP).

“Auburn University’s NPTC will work closely with Tyson Foods and Southern Solar Systems to provide leadership in the application of solar power technology to broiler production houses,” said Paul Patterson, dean of Auburn’s College of Agriculture. “The research will provide important new information on how solar power technology can improve environmental sustainability and profits for farmers.”

According to the announcement, the house’s power will derive from three components: the photovoltaic panel or solar cell, a battery set and a generator. On-site researchers will compare its energy use regularly with the normal operation of the twin house located next door over a 12-month cycle.

The data and insights gleaned from this project will be an important next step in identifying sustainable practices and new forms of energy for the poultry industry at large, Auburn said.

“Ultimately, this project will allow us to identify how solar houses might improve farmer profitability and bring increased efficiency to the poultry industry,” said Chip Miller, vice president of poultry live operations for Tyson. “Through our partnership with Auburn University’s NPTC, we are creating a model for the future of the industry — one that is more sustainable and brings critical value and insights, previously unavailable, to poultry farmers.”

“The combination of solar and batteries, along with the other technologies, is converting power to usable alternating current that’s identical to grid power,” NPTC extension specialist Dennis Brothers said. “Electricity drives all functions in poultry houses and is the largest variable cost for poultry farmers. We believe this new system may reduce costs for farmers while increasing efficiency.”

Building a competitive system

The rising cost of electricity, coupled with the unpredictability of long-term grid power, has created an opportunity for Tyson to explore solutions to help alleviate the effect of climbing prices, the announcement said.

“Looking ahead, we are eager to evaluate the efficacy of the solar house and its impact on farmer profitability,” Miller concluded. “We expect this pilot to be the first of many as we continue to leverage the power of collaboration to drive progress in the poultry industry.”

Source: Auburn University, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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