The Wintertime, Propane Bill Blues

The hot topic among poultry growers is the propane price.  The extra chill in the air is causing a shortage.  Pretty simple supply and demand I guess but that doesn’t make the bill any easier to pay.  I have heard of some of the integrators helping growers with the extra cost.  I know of one who issued and extra propane allowance and another who is paying anything above a certain price.  I am sure there are more examples out there.  It is nice to see the integrators helping out.

A few winter strategies:

1.  Check the gas lines and regulators for leaks.  We had a regulator go bad last week.  With a little checking, we replaced two regulators and a valve.   We did a thorough check last spring, so we were a little surprised to find three problems.  Spray all joints with soapy water and look for bubbles.

2.  Check your static pressure prior to each flock.  We close everything up and turn on one tunnel fan (20,000 cfm).  The static pressure should be at least -0.15.  Make sure the belt on the fan is in good shape. If your reading is less than -0.15, you have some sealing to do.  We got ours up to -0.20 to -0.24.  Not bad for 22 year old houses.

3.  I have had a couple calls about 1/4 house and 1/3 house brooding.  One of our students parents have houses set up as center house brood.  They hung a center curtain and are going to turn their brood chamber into 1/4 house.  I think, in the short term, these are viable strategies.  Just keep a close eye on your floor.

4.  Ventilate for humidity.  We try to stay under 50% the first two weeks and between 45 and 65% thereafter.

The temptation to turn down the ventilation or temperature must be avoided.  We have an ethical responsibility to do the right thing and manage flocks in a proper, healthy manner.


The Poultry Science Department sent 40 students to Atlanta for IPPE this year.  A group from Crowder College in Missouri and from the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff joined in increasing the group to 60.  Most of our students were interviewing for jobs or internships.  Cobb-Vantress, Tyson Foods, Simmons Foods, Cal-Maine, Cargill, Pilgrims Pride,  Case Farms, Perdue and Wayne Farms were all interviewing.  Ten to twelve students had accepted offers before leaving Atlanta.  More offers have been made since.  I don’t have a count or destinations yet but I will try to post them latter.

New Folks

We have a few new students working on the farm this semester.  We welcome Lindsey Tharp, Villonia, AR, Mallory Clay, Paragould, AR, Clay Knighten, Mena, AR and Matthew Coale, Siloam Springs, AR to the farm.

We have a couple new professors also.  Dr. Karen Christensen had joined the Poultry Science Department as an Extension Broiler Specialist.  Dr. Christensen brings a lot of industry experience and is already working with the farm students.  Joining the department as an Adjunct Professor is Dr. John Halley.  Dr. Halley is Global Head of Nutrition Services for Aviagen.  He is serving on a graduate students PhD committee and will be working with the Poultry Nutrition students on feed formulation.  Congratulations and welcome to both of you.


Winter graduation saw the farm lose Landon Gross.  Landon is now working for Cargill Turkey in Springdale, Arkansas.  Landon worked on the farm his last three semesters at U of A.  I talk to him frequently and it sounds like he is really enjoying the new job.

Landon and his mother, Dayna Pangle.
Landon and his mother, Dayna Pangle.

The Farm

Flock 128 finished well, but late.  We usually go 42 days but, due to what is known locally as snowpocalypse, we did not ship until 47 days.  The birds finished with a plant weight of 6.81 lbs. and  an fcr of 1.831.  This was good enough to settle third for the week.  We seem to settle third more often than not.

With the snow and resulting mud, we had a really hard time getting the decaking done.


We are working now on getting a litter storage shed built to avoid this problem in the future.

Flock 129 placed on January 16.  For this flock, we have two trials going, both using the test pens.

IMG_0446 IMG_0445 IMG_0444

The first is part of Chance’s PhD research and involved super-dosing phytase at different levels.  This was done until day 18.  The birds were then weighed and removed from the pens.  We caught, sorted and weighed another group.  Placed them in the pens and started the second trial.  This is being conducted by Stephanie Philpot and Callie McCreery, both undergraduate students who work on the farm.  This trial is looking at different doses of yeast in the diets, both top dressed and mixed in the feed.  Both trials will involve sampling from the birds to address gut integrity and health.

Chance will be finishing up his PhD in Poultry Nutrition this summer and leaving us.  Both Stephanie and Callie will be going out on internships.  Stephanie will be working for Cargill Turkey, in Springdale, Arkansas.  Callie will be working at the Cobb-Vantress feed mill in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.  Of the rest of the farm students, Jeff Neal is interning with Cargill Turkey in California, Missouri,  Ace Rice and Matthew Coale are still in the interviewing process.  Lindsey Tharp and Mallory Clay will be working on the farm or on my water research this summer.

I think that brings us up to date.  Sorry to take so long.  Questions or comments, email me or leave a comment.  Thanks.





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