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Mississippi State 20190110_poultry_thermal.jpg (Photo by Mississippi State University Extension Service/Tom Tabler)
Since there are no feathers providing insulation, the head and feet of a chicken show up hot (red and white) on this thermal image. The cool tail, composed of just feathers, is dark blue and the rest of the body, insulated by feathers, is somewhere in between.

Thermal images help monitor poultry house heat issues

Thermal-imaging cameras help look for hot or cold spots in a poultry house that indicate problem areas in temperature management.

Heat control in poultry houses is a very important consideration for the poultry industry in the southeastern U.S., particularly in Mississippi, where summer temperatures can exceed 90°F for more than 100 days of the year, according to an announcement from Mississippi State University.

"Feed conversion in chickens is determined in large part by how well you regulate the temperature inside the poultry house," said Tom Tabler, poultry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

In the winter, poultry houses have to be kept warm enough to ensure that growing chickens efficiently use their feed energy for growth, not to maintain body temperature. In the summer, chickens that are too warm eat less and grow slowly.

"Feed energy used for anything other than growth is detrimental to feed efficiency and flock performance," Tabler said.

Many growers ask Tabler to visit their poultry houses to help address a variety of environmental and management issues. Among the most important is house temperature control. He uses a thermal-imaging camera to look for hot or cold spots that indicate problem areas in temperature management.

“A thermal camera’s image indicates clearly where there is a difference in temperature,” Tabler said. “In the summer, we look for leaks where heat is coming into the poultry houses. In the winter, we look for areas where heated air may be lost to the outside and driving up fuel costs.”

Thermal images indicate where insulation is needed. When a poultry house is properly insulated and sealed, growers can precisely and efficiently manage inside temperature and fresh air intake.

“When you’re in a poultry house and just look up, you can only see the vapor barrier,” he said. “This thermal-imaging camera can find where there are insulation deficiencies within a chicken house in both the ceiling and sidewalls, without a manual inspection.

“Broiler farmers get chickens the day they hatch out,” Tabler explained. “One-day-old chickens need to be kept at 90-92°F, because that’s the temperature the mother hen would have kept them at. As they get older, they need less heat.”

Poultry houses use computerized temperature control to specifically meet each flock’s daily needs. When temperature in a house is managed correctly, producers can efficiently grow a flock to the right size in an exact time frame, Tabler said.

The poultry industry contracts with broiler growers to produce certain-sized chickens to meet their market needs for a specific cut of meat.

“It is costly to both the grower and the poultry company if it takes extra time to reach the intended target weight,” he said. “Ideally, when the proper temperature profile is maintained, a flock reaches the intended target weight on the intended market day.”

Source: Mississippi State 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.

TAGS: Poultry
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