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What are the benefits of using sprinklers in combination with cool cells?

By Stanley Kaye

Once upon a time, long before the advent of cools cells and tunnel ventilation, sprinklers used to serve as the main “weapon” in preventing mortality in poultry flocks in hot weather.

Even though cooling broilers with sprinkler technology was widely used, it suffered from several disadvantages.

  • As there was little or no wind speed and no tunnel ventilation, a lot of water was wasted to keep birds cool. This often led to wet litter and increased humidity.
  • Control of the sprinklers used to be poor and, until recently, it could take minutes rather than seconds until the sprinklers started operating.
  • Many sprinklers were not sophisticated and would leak or drip between operations.

No wonder then that with the emergence and progress of tunnel ventilation and cool cells technology many growers abandoned sprinklers all together. However, as the market gained more experience and as technology has evolved, there are now several advantages to using sprinklers with cool cells, if done correctly.

In order to maximize the benefits of both systems, the sprinklers must be:

  • Immediately operable – i.e., the on/off cycle should occur in seconds rather than minutes for fine tuning.
  • The sprinklers should be divided into 3–4 groups along the length of shed, the first group in the first quarter of shed where the cool pads are, and the last group at the fan end.
  • Each group of sprinklers should have its own electronic tap and sensor so that they are able to operate independently of each other.
  • Sprinklers should not be at a low flow rate or drip when turned off.

Sprinklers could be a preferred solution in the following cases.

First, when the humidity level inside the shed is over 80 percent, cool cells offer limited benefits. The sprinklers should be operated on a graduated programme. This will slightly wet chicken backs and the wind on the backs will directly cool the birds. The farmer must ensure that the litter is not getting wet. If it does, either operating times should be reduced, or intervals increased.

And second when there is a difference in temperature along the shed. It may be 28°C at the cool pads, 29°C in the middle and 31°C at the fan end. While the cool pads can take down the temperature of the house, it does not stop the change in temperature between the ends. If the sprinklers are set in groups as described above and operate for a few seconds at say 29°C degrees (when the cool pad is set for 28°C degrees), the cool cell end sprinklers will not operate (they are not necessary) and each group will operate according to the temperature in its area. In this way, the temperature difference in the shed can be reduced to almost zero (less than half a degree). The added moisture to the shed is therefore kept to a minimum.

We have successfully incorporated this system into several large farms at low cost and with impressive results.