Temperatures Heating Up Chicken Houses

Sidney, AR -- Poultry grower Randy Ratliff and the chickens he raises are feeling the heat....

"These here, according to last the batch, are probably two days behind in feed consumption.  That feed consumption tells you the weight is not there," said Ratliff.

If the weight is not there, neither is the money.

He tries to keep these chicken houses about 15 degrees cooler than it is outside to maintain the birds appetite.

It's a task that constantly has to be monitored and maintained because as the chickens get older they become more vulnerable to heat exhaustion and even death.

"If one of our generators or fans fail, you might have ten minutes before they start dying," said Ratliff.

Randy says he hasn't lost any birds due to the heat, but he does go on to say that the cost of keeping the temperatures in these chicken houses down is certainly going up.

"Last month we paid one of the highest electric bills we've ever paid. During the day you run 9 48-52 inch fans and with all the other stuff you run in there.....it's terrible.  My bill has doubled what we had been paying," said Ratliff.

Cooling units and fans are luxuries in our homes, but they are necessities in chicken houses because if they fail, as Ratliff said, it could mean thousands of dollars are lost.

"Just in a matter of minutes, you could lose 8 or 9 houses if something doesn't work," said Ratliff.

For Randy Ratliff and the thousands of birds he raises, he relies on technology to battle mother nature......

"...an alarm system to say when the ventilation is not right or when the heat is not right," said Ratliff

....because it's a fight he can't afford to lose.