Propane and natural gas are the primary heating fuels in poultry farms. They make up the bulk of variable expenses on a farm in a year, and they can get quickly out of hand in the thick of winter.
Short of learning to predict the future and weather patterns, or owning your own oil field, there isn’t much we can do about the price of heating oil. But there are things we can do to limit how much is wasted and how much is spent on fuel throughout the winter.
Insulate, seal, and tighten houses. And budget, budget, budget!
Farms need to be tight to prevent heat from leaving the building. Solid side walls, rather than curtains, offer improved insulation and keep the heat inside the farm. Insulating the walls and the attic will keep even more heat where it is needed most. Using circulation fans can push heat that has risen to the ceiling back down into the bird space, keeping litter more dry and warm. Weather stripping around doors, fans, inlets and other openings will prevent drafts from seeping in. End or side wall fans are one of the largest points of air leakage during the winter. Covering the cone with a sleeve can keep the heat in the barn.
Budgeting ahead can be difficult. Setting aside enough to cover one flock of heating oil can help ease the blow of a sudden spike in the cost of heating oil. Consider forward purchasing fuel. This allows you to lock in a certain price with the expectation that prices will increase. If possible, purchase oil during a low cost period and store extra on the farm. This could prove to be more expensive when considering tank cost and set up. Learn more about pre-planning for heating season here.
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