Poultry Ventilation Tune-Up: Prep for the Warm Months

Prepare for the summer heat by tuning up your ventilation system now! Here's how to maintain fans and cool cells.

Ventilation Tune-Up for Poultry Houses

If you wait for warm weather to make sure the ventilation in your poultry houses is functioning well, you're going to be too late. Let's talk about ventilation and how to make sure it's running smoothly before summer hits.



Your Poultry Ventilation System is an Element You Can Control

On our Poultry Biosecurity channel, one thing we harp on is how to control the things that are actually in your control. You can't control how your feed is mixed. You can't control what birds you get. You can't control how long you're going to be out or when you're getting birds.

But there are some things you can control. And as much as we all hate maintenance, that's one of the main things poultry farmers can control. So when we're talking about warm weather coming up, we're going to have to think about ventilation. You've got to keep those birds cool with fresh air. And there are two main things that you've got to take care of if you're going to keep those birds from heat stress: your fans and your cool cells.

Poultry House Fans

Fans could basically be considered as the heart of mechanical ventilation. The fan is going to pump the "blood," or the air, in your house's air exchange. So how can you make sure that it's doing what it's supposed to do?


Number one, check those belts. I know we harp on that a lot. In fact, we did a video in 2022 about belts and pulleys.

It's not about that belt riding down in the pulley. That belt has got to ride up on top of the pulley. So, what you want to do is check and make sure that your belts are sitting in the pulley like they're supposed to.

Over time, belts will also get thin and worn. And, when they start going down into the pulley, you can lose as much as 25% of airflow by having that pulley reduced. Now if you take that 25% multiplied by six fans in the back of the house, you really only have the power of about four and a half fans. It's as if you're losing a fan and a half!

Would you cut off two fans during the heat, the hot part of the summer? No. So make sure that belt is riding up high on that pulley. It's also good to keep a few spare belts around for that very reason too. This can help prevent you from losing that high speed we like to see in poultry house fans.


Your pulleys are also a crucial part of your ventilation system. If the pulley starts wearing out, that belt's going to drop down in there. That pulley should have a 'V' shape. What will happen is that the pulleys will wear down to where they're making a 'U' shape instead. And, when that starts riding down in there, you start losing some of the power of the fan turning, which means you're going to lose some air flow. So make sure your pulleys have a good 'V' shape and are not too worn.

Fan Maintenance for Poultry Houses


Alignment is another thing that can wear out those belts. Misalignment can come with just a motor getting loose or your pulleys getting loose. Pulley misalignment will cause the belt to wear out faster. So, make sure your belts are riding where they should. Make sure your pulleys are lined up. Make sure that they've got a good 'V' shape cut into them.

Cleaning Shutters and Blades

Now, if we're talking about air flow, the last things are going to be keeping your shutters, air inlets and blades clean. To continue with the illustration of heart and blood, not cleaning the shutters and the screens that go on the outside of that fan is like getting your arteries clogged.

If they're dirty, your shutters and inlet openings will not open as well. Then you're restricting air flow and air mixing. So, keep your shutters clean, and get in there and clean your fan blades too.

Cool Cells

The fans are responsible for bringing that air in to cool cells. We can't put air conditioners in the chicken house. Right? So the cool cells are your air conditioner.

You've got to take care of cool cells, because as much as the fan is responsible for the flow of the air, they are responsible for the flow of the water.

Cleaning Cool Cells

Number one, make sure that your cool cells are actually clean and there's no build up. Is there anything that's going to restrict the flow in there? So, you've got to clean these and get mineral deposits and bacteria off of them.

Now, you can pressure wash cool cells, but there's one thing to make sure of if you do so. Cool cells are at an angle. So, you kind of want to shoot at an angle when pressure washing.

Checking Water Flow in Cool Cells

You should also consider what's providing water to these cool cells. So, you've got your pipe, you've got your pumps. You want to make sure those are clean. The way you can tell whether or not that water is getting where it's supposed to is by looking at the cell when it first cuts on.

Are you seeing certain spots that are dry on the cool cell? When water drips down from the flute, is it covering all of the cool seal? Is all the cool seal getting completely wet? If you have some areas where the water is not flowing, you may have a hole that's clogged up. It may be that your sumps haven't been cleaned out and they're getting trash up in there. And now your water's not flowing properly.

To help fix this, make sure your pumps are doing what they're supposed to do. Keep the water line clean so you can have a good surface cover of that cool cell, because if you're not pulling air through that wet part of the cool seal, you're just restricting air flow. You're not getting the maximum cool that could be coming through.

Keep Your Birds Cool

Check your belts, your pulleys, clean the shutters, clean the fans. Are your cool cells getting adequate water flow over them so that they can cool your poultry barns as much as possible?

And one last little tip as we enter into this warm weather: Make sure your generators are working well. I know we think about generators in the winter, but it's important to check them in the spring and summer too. Make sure it's ready to go so that if you do have a power outage, that generator will kick in and you don't have a bunch of birds overheating.

Whether you use tunnel ventilation, mechanical ventilation, stir fans or other systems, ensure even your minimum ventilation provides sufficient wind speed to keep your birds cool and healthy. Heat stress can cause a host of issues in a flock—remember that a happy bird is a healthy bird, and a healthy bird is a profitable bird!

Contact Us

If you have any questions or ideas for future videos, reach out to me at allen@southlandorganics.com. To stay up to date on our content made just for poultry growers, subscribe to our Poultry Biosecurity YouTube channel.

Helpful Resources

The Poultry Site Ventilation Tips

Hybrid Turkeys Tunnel Ventilation Prep Tips

About the Author

Allen Reynolds

Allen Reynolds

Poultry Sales Manager

This was written by Allen Reynolds, Southland Organics’ Poultry Sales Manager. Allen spent years working on poultry farms, from installing equipment to dumping chicks. He has been helping poultry farmers overcome obstacles since 2014, focusing on poultry farm strength in the antibiotic-free environment since 2017. He has traveled thousands of miles and worked closely with hundreds of farmers during his time with Southland Organics. Allen is known by even more farmers from the YouTube channel Poultry Biosecurity, where he regularly appears in videos that educate farmers on topics like bird health and farm business.

Learn more about Allen Reynolds

Isabella (Izy) Dobbins

Marketing Manager

This was edited by Isabella (Izy) Dobbins, Southland Organics' Marketing Manager. Izy has devoted her education and career to communicating science-related topics. With an enthusiasm for sharing accurate and honest content relating to science and agriculture, she ensures Southland Organics' publications are as informative as they are interesting. Izy graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in advertising, minors in both Spanish and environmental health science and a Certificate in Sustainability. She has been working at Southland Organics since 2021.

Learn more about Izy Dobbins

Izy Dobbins
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