Broiler houses are typically 40 to 50 ft in width, and 400 to 600 ft in length (Fig. 1). Wood or metal scissor trusses are used, resulting in sloped ceilings. Side walls are typically 6 to 8 ft in height with ceiling peaks running 10 to 16 ft. To minimize heat loss during cold weather and heat gain during hot weather, insulation is either directly under the metal roof (open ceiling house) or at the bottom cord of the truss (dropped ceiling house). Open ceiling houses are typically insulated with 1- to 11/2-inch insulation made of polystyrene boards with an R-value of 5 to 9. In a dropped ceiling house, a plastic vapor barrier is attached to the bottom cord of a truss with either batt or blown insulation (R-value 12 21) installed above the vapor barrier.
Most broiler houses have 2- to 5-ft curtains on each side of the house to facilitate natural ventilation or to use in case of a power failure. With some farms using fan ventilation throughout the year, many houses are now equipped with solid side walls. Houses with solid side walls as well as many curtain-sided houses are equipped with a generator that automatically starts in the case of a power failure.
The floor in most broiler houses is typically compacted soil or concrete. The surface of the floor is covered with bedding material known as litter. Materials used as litter mostly consist of wood shavings, wood chips, sawdust, peanut hulls, or rice hulls. Whatever material is used, its primary functions are to absorb moisture and promote drying of the house, reduce contact between birds and manure by diluting the fecal material, and provide an insulation and protective cushion between the birds and the floor.
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