February 14, 2008

Kentucky poultry growers will have access to energy and money saving tips as a result of energy audits that will be conducted over the next two years across the state. The audits are a joint partnership between the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture departments of animal and food sciences and biosystems and agricultural engineering and the Kentucky Poultry Federation and are funded by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.

Energy bills are one of the major expenditures a poultry producer has, said Anthony Pescatore, UK extension poultry professor. He estimated the average poultry house spends about $700 a month in utility bills. The audits will examine producers’ utility bills, management styles, current heating and lighting systems, structural needs of buildings and measure utility usage. Energy audits are already under way in 22 houses in far western Kentucky and will reach other areas of the state over the next two years.

“We’re going to look at the cost effectiveness of doing some upgrades to their houses,” Pescatore said. “One of the questions that a lot of the growers have is, ‘Does it pay for me to change to certain types of systems or to make improvements?’ We’re hoping that we can get some hard data for them so they can make those decisions. And then once they make the decisions, hopefully, the ultimate goal is they’ve reduced their energy usage and reduce their energy bills.”

The energy audits come at an opportune time for some growers as they could be dealing with problems that arise with older buildings. Pescatore said some of the older poultry houses in the state are at least 17-years-old and possibly older.

“As they get older, they get a little outdated, or just like an old house that you have, it starts having some characteristic problem,” he said.

Producers were chosen through an application and selection process. Pescatore said the audits are a representative sample of the state’s poultry industry and includes each type of poultry operation and every area of the state.

“By working with this representative sample, we’re going to learn what problems there are,” he said. “There may be problems with air infiltration wherever there’s a joint, or there may be a need for increased insulation. There may be a need for more efficient heaters.”

While the audits can’t be conducted on all poultry operations, every producer will have access to the audit’s findings and will have the opportunity to attend grower education sessions. Producers can also receive updates on the audit’s progress through a newsletter produced by the Kentucky Poultry Federation. A Web site that displays the results of a complex’s audit as they are completed is also in the works.

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