Winter Management of Tunnel Ventilation Devices

Wintertime weather brings its own unique challenges for growers.  Cold temperatures force growers to focus on keeping buildings warm while simultaneously maintaining good air quality without breaking the bank with heating costs.  For most of the cold weather months ventilation needs are adequately covered by “minimum ventilation” and the first couple stages of cooling.

So why are we discussing tunnel ventilation in February, you may ask.  Because our shortest month of the year quickly transitions into March and then April, and with warm spring days occurring sometimes when we least expect it, a potential recipe for disaster can be created.

What is this potential danger that we need to avert?  Sometimes in cold weather a grower closes the tunnel curtain/door, and on his ventilation controller turns toggle switches “off” for the tunnel inlet and all the fans used in tunnel mode.  This seems to make sense since tunnel mode shouldn’t be needed in February.  Especially with larger birds or hogs and an unseasonally warm, sunny day, the temperature in the building may rise until the controller transitions to tunnel mode.  Unfortunately, since the only devices being called for have been manually switched off, the tunnel curtain does not open, neither “tunnel” or “cooling” fans run, and minimum ventilation does not operate.  Under these circumstances an animal loss is a real possibility.

It is understandable that some tunnel fans will be blocked off, perhaps with winter doors, to improve heating efficiency.  That being said, animal welfare and safety have to be our number one priority.  Here are a few suggestions to protect your animals:

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