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Development and Validation of an Animal Thermal Environment Interaction Laboratory

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2021 ASABE Annual International Virtual Meeting  2100653.(doi:10.13031/aim.202100653)
Authors:   Benjamin C. Smith, Sara E. Weyer, Brett C. Ramirez, Steven J. Hoff, Richard S. Gates
Keywords:   Commissioning, PLF, poultry, swine, ventilation

Abstract. A pilot-scale laboratory was designed and built to meet the specific needs of conducting precision livestock farming (PLF) research related to optimizing thermal environment. The two room (8.5 by 3.7 by 2.9 m; W by L by H) laboratory was built inside an existing structure utilizing common construction methods and materials. Each room was fully instrumented to characterize the thermal (dry-bulb temperature and relative humidity) and gaseous (O2, CO2) environment and facilitate both direct and indirect calorimetry measurements. The laboratory‘s instrumentation set-up allows for expansion into additional thermal (black-globe temperature), lighting analysis (wavelength and intensity) and gas (NH3) as experiments demand. Ventilation was a “modified push-pull” style with one common supply fan and an exhaust fan for each room operating at a slight negative pressure. Each room also featured an airflow measurement device that was individually calibrated. The commissioning of the environmental control demonstrated all sensors were functioning correctly. This laboratory can be used for various poultry and swine experiments for developing and refining PLF technologies before advancing to field trials in commercial facilities. Unique and extensive research laboratories are needed to readily facilitate the research and development of PLF technologies related to characterizing and controlling the animal occupied zone thermal environment that align with industry needs. Traditional production facilities present challenges related to biosecurity, instrumentation capabilities, labor, and travel to remote sites.

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