In collaboration with Tyson Foods Inc., Auburn University’s National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) has opened a solar-powered poultry house that will be operated completely off the grid.
The 54-foot by 500-foot poultry house, located in Cullman County, Ala., is capable of housing 36,000 broilers. It will be one of two identical houses on Tim and Selena Butts’ farm; one house will be the control house, while the other will be operated exclusively by solar power.
“Auburn University’s NPTC will work closely with Tyson Foods and Southern Solar Systems to provide leadership in the application of solar power technology to broiler production houses,” says Paul Patterson, dean of Auburn’s College of Agriculture. “The research will provide important new information on how solar power technology can improve environmental sustainability and profits for farmers.”
The house’s power will derive from three components: solar photovoltaics, battery storage and a generator. On-site researchers will compare its energy use regularly with the operation of the adjacent house over a 12-month cycle.
“Ultimately, this project will allow us to identify how solar houses might improve farmer profitability and bring increased efficiency to the poultry industry,” says Chip Miller, vice president of poultry live operations for Tyson Foods. “Through our partnership with Auburn University’s NPTC, we are creating a model for the future of the industry – one that is more sustainable and brings critical value and insights, previously unavailable, to poultry farmers.”
Miller adds, “Looking ahead, we are eager to evaluate the efficacy of the solar house and its impact on farmer profitability. We expect this pilot to be the first of many as we continue to leverage the power of collaboration to drive progress in the poultry industry.”