Poultry facilities are going through an evolution in design due to growing demands for cage-free eggs and egg products without unified guidelines to accommodate these transitions. The goal of this study was to help builders and egg producers assess current ventilation design within cage-free production facilities for conditions that impact hen comfort and welfare. The method of evaluation was simulation of the indoor environment of a hen house via computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling with individual hens modeled at a typical stocking density. This paper describes the development of a three-dimensional model of a commercial floor-raised cage-free hen house that is cross-ventilated to document current environmental conditions. A one-eighth section of the barn was modeled at full-scale using existing ventilation schemes with each bird represented by a hen-shaped, heated, solid body. A conventional top-wall inlet, side-wall exhaust (TISE) ventilation configuration was modeled for this study. The simulated ventilation rate for the hen house was approximately 3 m3 /h (1.77 ft3 /min) per hen resulting in 7092 m3/h (4174 ft3/min) for the 2365 birds, which falls at the higher end of the desired cold weather (0◦C) ventilation range. Contours of airflow, temperature, and pressure were generated to visualize results. Three two-dimensional planes were created at representative cross-sections to evaluate the contours inside and outside the barn. Five animal-occupied zones within each of the model planes were evaluated for practical hen comfort attributes. The simulation output suggested the TISE standard ventilation system could limit air speed to a comfortable average of 0.26 m/s (51 ft/min) and the temperature could be maintained between 18 and 24◦C on average at the bird level. Additionally, the indoor static pressure difference was very uniform averaging −25 Pascal (0.1 inches of water), which falls in the normal range for a floor-raised hen house with negative-pressure ventilation during cold weather conditions. Findings confirmed that CFD modeling can be a powerful tool for studying ventilation system performance at the bird level, particularly when individual animals are modeled, to assure a comfortable indoor environment for animal welfare in poultry facilities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology