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The science of chicken raising.

UA Facility Will Hold Open House, Display One-Year Statistics From $909,000 Project

Saving money and energy is paramount to any industry.

Arkansas' poultry producers soon may learn of some cost-cutting methods through the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service's Broiler Energy Research Verification Unit near Fayetteville.

Poultry producers, industry employees and equipment dealers all are invited to an open house for the facility at noon Monday, Oct. 12. The unit is located at Savoy, about 12 miles west of Fayetteville.

The project, in the second of three years, is under the direction of Lionel Barton, Ph.D. It is a result of a $909,000 grant from the Arkansas Energy Office.

Four broiler houses, typical of the industry but with variation in insulation and construction, have been built for the project. Two operate in the "conventional" manner, Barton says, with open ends, fans and a fogging system. Two others have evaporative cooling pads and tunnel ventilation.

The purpose of the setup is to provide an energy study for the needs of each house. Gas, water, feed and various temperatures at locations throughout the houses also are measured. A computer reads data every two minutes and provides information in 10-minute segments so researchers can accurately determined the most effective operation.

The UA unit is growing six-pound male birds, the type used for deboning. That large bird "puts more pressure on your ventilation system," Barton says.

Nearby is a weather station so outside conditions also can be monitored.

"Energy cost is one of the big concerns of contract chicken farmers," Barton says. "In our research, we can determine, for example, the peak water demand for birds of this type. We've been able to determine the time of day and age of the bird for the peak demand of water.

"This is a way to see what can be done to save energy and grow a better product."

Large Production

The UA unit is a contract grower as well. Barton says the facility will grow five broods (about 18,000 birds a brood) producing 2 million pounds in a year.

Barton says the poultry industry is efficient with a little change in energy use each year. UA research helps determine many of the changes.

Because poultry is far and away the state's largest income producer -- employing 90,000 people, or one in every 12 working Arkansans -- it makes sense that the state's university should be on the cutting edge of new ideas.

Arkansas has about 5,000 broiler producers and is expected to produce 1 billion chickens this year, Barton says.

Poultry production results in $1.8 billion annually, or 43 percent of the state's agriculture income.

Washington County, in which the UA is located, is the largest producer. Neighboring Benton County is second, while Hempstead County is third.

Those three each produced more than $100 million in agriculture income last year, Barton says.

"Poultry is the reason there is so much trucking concentrated in this region," he says. "There has been more housing starts, more industry in this region. We don't take credit, but poultry is a part of that success."

Northwest Arkansas became a hotbed for poultry production in the 1930s when the apple industry failed because of insects and disease.

Barton says the project already has revealed some unexpected information in the first year.

"The tunnel-ventilated houses are more efficient energy-wise through the year but have not grown us a better bird in the summer," he says. "That has surprised us. They are not as efficient as the open-sided houses.

"We thought we could minimize the heat stress in the summer and grow a better bird. We have minimized the heat but not necessarily the cost, the feed conversion and the size of bird."

The university's unit is the only full-scale type of its kind on any college campus. The National Poultry Science Association visited the facility in August and its members came away impressed, Barton says.

"We are tremendously proud of this facility," he adds.

The open house includes a $3 barbecue chicken lunch provided by the UA's Poultry Science Club.

The program -- which explains the project, its first-year results and includes a tour of the facilities -- starts at 1 p.m.
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Title Annotation:public showing of innovative broiler houses by University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service's Broiler Energy Research Verification Unit
Author:Harris, Jim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 5, 1992
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