Skip to content

Advantages of Wood Heat for Commercial Poultry Production

Viking Company of Albany, MN, along with partners Clean Energy Resource Teams and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, are pleased to announce the release of their findings report on the Advantages of Wood Heat for Poultry field study.

The demonstration project field-tested a 1.65 million Btu (British thermal unit) wood chip furnace in a live commercial poultry operation. The wood furnace demonstrated considerable fuel cost savings against historically low liquid propane prices, saving an average of $8,029 per year against liquid propane prices just above $1.00 per gallon. As anticipated, fuel cost savings from using woody biomass were highest in the colder months when thermal demand is greatest.

Viking Company observed additional flock production benefits beyond fuel cost savings, including reduced bird losses and improved feed conversion. These indicators point to an effective cost savings for poultry producers and their integrators. Though beyond the scope of this energy project, future studies that prove out these benefits could make this technology a “no brainer.”

About the field study: The project, funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program (AGRI), spanned 23 months and 12 flock rotations. Viking Company, an experienced poultry growing operation, hosted and operated the wood furnace in its two-story broiler chicken barn as a test. An identical barn heated with liquid propane immediately adjacent to the test barn served as an experimental control to observe differences in operability, fuel costs, and flock production

Following the successful pilot project, Bill Koenig of Viking Company is actively pursuing the design and financing of a more universally applicable biomass heating plant in their remaining conventionally LP heated chicken barn. “Lessons learned are telling us the overall initial cost can be significantly lower while retaining the positive benefits realized in the prototype system and securing safety and insurability,” Koenig noted.

To download a full copy of the report, please click here.