Poultry housing tips: target temperature changes with heating system type

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The house has been preheated for 36 hours to 92°F. The chicks will be arriving in a few hours and the controller’s six temperature sensors (positioned one foot above the floor) indicate the air temperature is between 91 and 92°F (Figure 2). A thermal image indicates the floor temperature is between 87 and 102°F (Figure 1). There is no measurable ammonia due to the fact that litter treatment that was applied three days prior and the litter is dry.

Figure 1. Thermal image end of broiler house heated by radiant brooders


Feeders as well as supplemental feeders are full of feed and the water lines set to the proper height.

Minimum ventilation fans are operating 30 seconds out of five minutes and the humidity is approximately 60%.

Figure 2. Controller display day of chick placement

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But, this farm is a little different from most. First, the farm manager does not use partial-house brooding, and more importantly, the heating systems installed on each end of the house are different.

On one end, 12 radiant brooders are installed and on the other, three forced air furnaces.


Both types of heating systems can, and have been, successfully used for decades to provide the supplemental heat during brooding, but that being said, they heat a house very differently.

Nothing makes this point more clearly than when the thermal image of the end equipped with forced air furnaces (Figure 3) is compared to the end heated by the radiant brooders (Figure 1).

Figure 3. Thermal image of end of broiler house heated by forcedair

 The controller indicated that the air temperature on each end of the house was essentially identical, but thermal images tell a different story.

Although the floor temperature on the radiant brooder end was between 87oF and 102oF, the floor temperature on the end heated with forced-air furnaces was between 78oF and 87oF…roughly 10oF cooler.

Figure 4 is a histogram of floor temperatures on each end of the house.

On the end of the house with furnaces 72%, of the floor area was between 81oF and 84oF.

On the end with radiant brooders, 85% of the floor was between 90oF and 96oF.

Figure 4. Floor temperature profile on each end
of the house

Though air temperature is obviously important to a day-old-chick, floor temperature is just as important, if not more important, to chick thermal comfort, considering they will be


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