LSU AgCenter to open 2 poultry demonstration houses in early 2010

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Coreil, Paul D., Nipper, W. Allen, Lavergne, Theresia  |  11/24/2009 2:19:52 AM

News Release Distributed 11/23/09

HOMER, La. – The LSU AgCenter will open two poultry demonstration houses in early 2010 in which real-life operations will help improve management practices for the industry.

“These houses are in the heart of the poultry-growing region of Louisiana,” said Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for extension. “We wanted to be closer to the growers to help address their immediate educational needs.”

The identical buildings, which will be used to raise broilers, are commercial-sized at 42 feet by 500 feet and located at the Hill Farm Research Station.

Each building will house 23,000 to 25,000 broilers, expected to be placed early next year, said Allen Nipper, director of the LSU AgCenter’s North Central Region. The AgCenter is contracting the birds with a local poultry company operating in Arcadia – House of Raeford.

“We expect to have a cooperative agreement with the other poultry company in the area, Foster Farms, in the future,” Nipper said.

Service technicians from the cooperating companies will regularly visit the facilities and evaluate them just as they would do for other growers to assure the operations are following the company’s management guidelines, Nipper said.

While the Hill Farm Research Station will be paid based on the performance of its birds, just as other growers are, that payment will be determined in a manner so as not increase or decrease growers’ payments made in the same cycle as the Hill Farm, Nipper said.

The first project to be tested in the houses will be heating systems, said Theresia Lavergne, LSU AgCenter extension poultry scientist.

“One of the biggest expenses for producers is the energy cost of heating their houses,” Lavergne said.

In one house is the commonly used “brooder” system in which the round radiant heaters are lowered to warm the chicks directly under them and then raised to the ceiling when they are not being used. In the other house, a newer system will be used in which radiant tubes are on the ceiling and turned on and off as needed. They heat the entire house.

“We’ll be testing how well the chickens do in each system to see if there are advantages of one over the other,” Lavergne said.

AgCenter scientists will be evaluating chick growth, along with monitoring ammonia and odor levels and energy use.

A poultry house steering committee was established to guide projects in the twin houses, Lavergne said. Members of the committee include representatives from the House of Raeford, Louisiana poultry growers, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation Poultry Advisory Committee and LSU AgCenter scientists, she said.

"This committee made the decision of what type of houses would be constructed and what type of equipment would be used in them," Lavergne said.

Poultry production is Louisiana’s largest animal industry and the second largest segment of Louisiana’s agricultural industries. The total value of Louisiana poultry production during 2008 was $1.2 billion dollars and 1.02 billion pounds of broiler meat were produced in LA in 2008. There are a little over 2,000 broiler houses in the parishes of Sabine, Natchitoches, Lincoln, Union, Jackson, Claiborne, Winn, Webster, Bienville, Vernon and Ouachita.

Mary Ann Van Osdell
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