In-shed sprinkler cooling system trial

The AgriFutures Australia Chicken Meat Program environment logo.

During this study, researchers worked with chicken growers to install and trial a commercially available low-pressure in-shed sprinkler system in two Queensland farms. The sprinkler system trialled applies small amounts of water directly onto the birds, at regular intervals, making it different from the traditional fogging systems that have been used decades ago.

Australian meat chicken growers use evaporative cooling to keep chickens cool during hot weather. While this is a very effective cooling method, it uses a lot of water and increases the relative humidity within the shed. This can reduce the chicken’s ability to cool down and may also contribute to increased wet litter.

The results of this study found that in-shed sprinklers are an effective cooling system that can be used to complement and reduce the use of evaporative cooling pads.  Using the sprinklers in this way can save between 200,000–300,000 litres of water per shed per year. It also found that the sprinklers stimulate bird movement, and litter conditions were not significantly different compared to the sheds that used only evaporative cool pads.

Farms that have limited water supply, or expensive water treatment, may find this a viable alternative to keep chickens cool during the summer months. This system may also be beneficial as a backup or emergency cooling system. Some benefits of this system are:

  • low installation cost ($4000–$8000 per shed)
  • operate at low pressure
  • use an independent control system
  • most components are commonly available plumbing or irrigation fittings and pipes
  • are easy to maintain.

More information

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Project details:

Project No.: PRJ-0010245
Principal investigator: Mark Dunlop
Research organisation: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland

Researcher details:

Mark Dunlop
Senior Principal Scientist (Environment)
Phone: +61 7 4529 4280