Managing Your Unseen Employee: The Ventilation System

Terry L. Steinhart, Field Specialist/Swine, Southeast Area

Ventilation of shallow gutters and deep manure pits in confinement housing can increase animal performance and worker safety by exhausting pit gases from the building before they can enter the animal zone. This improves air quality in the animal area and results in a cleaner, healthier environment inside the building. Also, floors are warmed and dried by air that is pulled from the animal space into the manure pit.
Ammonia is the most important gas, health wise, found in swine buildings on a day-to-day basis because it can occur at levels high enough to be an irritant to the respiratory system.  Ammonia gas can be significantly reduced if the right things are done simultaneously with available methods and management practices that involve ventilation, manure management, building hygiene, and feed management. Implementing these strategies for ammonia reduction in swine buildings may also reduce other manure gases and odors.
A workshop with hands-on demonstrations comprised of experiences on setting fan controllers, adjusting inlets, static pressure effects, dirty fan effects and other real-life effects. The demonstrations was conducted using a six foot by eight foot by eight foot mobile ventilation room equipped with two variable speed fans, one single speed fan, three types of inlets, controllers, and other equipment.  The demonstrations also used four demonstration boards comprised of various brands of ventilation controllers wired to small fans and lights to simulate heating systems.
The classroom sessions included the basics of ventilation systems, effective temperature requirements, troubleshooting tools and techniques, and other ventilation situations. Presenters were Dr. Jay Harmon ISU Agriculture Engineer, Kapil Arora, ISU Field Specialist/Engineering, and Terry L. Steinhart ISU field Specialist/Swine.
This workshop had 15 attendees and represented 705,000 finishing pigs and 14,350 sows.  Seven producers indicated that the benefit they gained on Temperature and Airflow needs was a fair amount to quite a lot.  When asked about the benefit gained with hands-on experience, nine producers indicated they learned a fair amount to quite a lot.  Some of the most important ideas leaned at the workshop included; the extra cost of feed when the temperature is not correct, the different air speed for size of pigs, effect of humidity, and CFM and fan performance.
Some of the changes in ventilation management they plan to implement include; check set points for heaters and fans, clean fans and replace soffit ventilation, and fine tune barns.
When asked to estimate the production operational value from the ventilation workshop, one producer indicated a value of $100 - $1,000; all other responses were over $1,000.  Three producers indicated a value of $5,000 - $10,000, one said the value was over $10,000 and one producer said the value was $100,000.
March 10, 2006
108 - Iowa Pork Industry Center

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