Chickens keep cool, egged on by innovation

Queensland scientists have found an egg-cellent way of keeping chickens cool on farms in the height of summer.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said traditionally producers have used evaporative coolers in grow-out sheds to keep chicks cool but these used a lot of water.

“Evaporative coolers also increase the humidity inside the sheds which can actually increase how hot the chickens feel,” Mr Furner said

“So staff from my department hatched a plan with the industry to find alternate ways to keep these chicks cool.

“They identified a low-pressure sprinkler system that has been developed in Northern America.

“In an Australian-first trial, they installed the sprinkler systems in sheds on two farms in southeast Queensland to see how they performed under local conditions.

“The sprinklers discharge at regular intervals and deliver water sprays at very short bursts – it’s like standing in front of a fan and squirting water in your face.”

Mr Furner said when used appropriately with in-shed tunnel ventilation, sprinklers reduce the use of evaporative cooling and can save between 200,000–300,000 litres of water per shed per year, or between 34–56 per cent.

“This is promising news for growers, especially in areas of limited water supply, in times of drought, or as a back-up or complementary cooling system,” he said.

“Those sheds can get hot in our Queensland summers and it’s important from an animal welfare point of view that chickens are not placed under any stress.

“This type of system could be a sound investment, because it’s relatively cheap and can be built with readily available components and is easy to maintain.”

The study was funded by AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program, as well as the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

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