Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Sprinkler technology experts share solutions to cool birds, save water

Special to Poultry Times

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Innovations in poultry happen all the time. Oftentimes, poultry producers aren’t too sure which ones are truly relevant to their operations. One of Poultry Times’ newsroom objectives is to keep readers informed about the latest developments in industry technology. Technology that helps improve operations. So the quickest ways to know what works best is to ask the experts, right?

Our staff hosted a free webinar discussion and demo during May with sprinkler technology experts Dr. Tom Tabler and Kevin Weeden. Both broke down how Weeden Sprinkler Systems — North America’s only patented sprinkler system available — helps cool birds down while saving you significant amounts of water. If you missed the talk, click here. Poultry Times also compiled the top questions poultry producers usually ask as it relates to this type of technology:

Q: How do you deal with hard water issues with this sprinkler system? A: All of the parts of the sprinkler system are plastic. We recommend using a water line cleaner such as Proxy-Clean on a regular basis to remove biofilm from the lines. If there is a mineral build up on the spinners, we recommend soaking the spinners in a mild acid or CLR to remove the mineral build up. Rinse them well and put them back on the sprinkler drops. The frequency of this is completely dependent on the water quality on the farm. 

Q: What are top concerns of poultry producers interested in investing in this type of technology? How do you both remedy these concerns? A: A few concerns:

a) First, will it get my litter wet? Each sprinkler emits approximately 10 ounces of water in 20 seconds over an area of 500 square feet. One complete cycle in a typical broiler house requires 5 gallons of water within 20-25,000 square feet. It is very little water and when used at maximum cooling, the birds are typically full grown to where very little water even gets to the litter. 

b) Second, will it raise my humidity? Sprinkler droplets are approximately 1,000 micron categorized as “light rain,” so they are heavy enough that they don’t hang in the air to raise humidity but fall to the birds. High pressure foggers have droplets that are roughly 100 micron that hang in the air to increase humidity. Sprinklers are used with virtually no change in humidity. 

c) Third, how much does a typical Weeden Sprinkler Cost? The performance improvement seen at the trials in Mississippi State and University of Arkansas show between a three- and four-year payback for a sprinkler system. If you are buying water and saving more than 50 percent of your cooling water, that payback will be even faster. 

Q: Overall, how does this technology help advance the poultry industry? A: Today the poultry industry is very concerned about animal welfare and sustainability. The fact that the sprinklers get the birds to stand up to encourage exercise and activity is extremely positive for animal health and skeletal development. The fact that the warm, gentle rain encourages the natural behavior of preening is extremely positive from an animal welfare standpoint. The fact that sprinklers can save more than 50 percent of the cooling water, bodes extremely well for the industry’s concerns over sustainable practices. Improving livability and performance while saving water and improving the longevity of cool cell pads has been very well accepted by the poultry industry. 

Q: Is the Weeden System the only sprinkler system on the market? A: Weeden Sprinkler Systems has been fortunate to have been granted 4 patents in North America, so it’s the only patented system available. The research that has been conducted on sprinkler technology in the United States, Canada and Australia has all been done with this sprinkler system. Any other sprinkler system being sold in North America is in breach of our patents. 

Q: Do the birds get used to the sprinklers and not stand up over time? A: When used for activity promotion and exercise, the birds will stand up every time throughout the day, but once you start using sprinklers for extreme heat where it might be operating 12 times per hour, and 10 hours per day, chickens will not stand up 120 times per day. They will continue to stand up periodically throughout the day releasing captured heat, but the fact that they won’t stand up every time isn’t because they are used to the sprinklers. They are simply hot and tired.

Q: How can I find out how to set up the sprinkler system? A: Each system comes with a set of recommended settings for a Tunnel Ventilated House as well as a Quick Set Up Guide for the controller. You can also find a series of three videos explaining how to set up a Weeden Sprinkler System on YouTube. Weeden staff are always available to assist with setting it up, too. 

Q: How do I get a one? A: Call U.S. Sales Manager Jake Smith at 870-680-7382 or Tim Wilson at 519-535-2746 for Canadian Sales. Both will answer any questions and put you in contact with a local distributor.

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