Penn State Helps Turkey Farmer Blaze Path

Penn State poultry scientists help a turkey producer reduce energy costs while enhancing animal well-being and environmental sustainability.
Penn State Helps Turkey Farmer Blaze Path - Videos

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[Nats of Mac stoking fire] >>Jamie, Reporter: TURKEY FARMER MAC CURTIS OF SNYDER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA IS BLAZING A PATH.

[Nats and tight shot of fire] A PATH HE ADMITS HASN’T BEEN EASY, BUT ONE HE HOPES OTHER FARMERS WILL SOON TRAVEL.

YOU SEE, A NUMBER OF FACTORS MADE CURTIS STOP AND EVALUATE HIS TURKEY OPERATION— WHICH IS LOCATED WITHIN THE SUSQUEHANNA BASIN OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY WATERSHED.

HE NEEDED TO GET WINDVIEW FARM IN LINE WITH FEDERAL MANDATES TO CLEAN UP THE BAY. HE ALSO WANTED TO CUT SOME OF HIS OPERATING COSTS BY REDUCING HIS FOSSIL FUEL USAGE AND HE WANTED TO MAKE SURE HIS FLOCKS WERE AS COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE DURING THEIR STAY WITH HIM… >>Morrill “Mac” Curtis, Turkey Farmer: “Probably one of the most important factors in being successful in production livestock is to reach a high level of animal comfort.” [Nats and shots of birds coming up to camera] >>Jamie, Reporter: SO WITH HIS GUESTS GENERATING ABOUT 4-HUNDRED TONS OF LITTER PER YEAR AND HAVING TO SPEND MORE THAN 30-THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR PROPANE, CURTIS QUICKLY DISCOVERED THE LITTER INCINERATOR/HOT WATER BOILER.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS… THE BEDDING MATERIAL OR LITTER THAT THE BIRDS ARE GROWN ON IS STORED UNTIL COLD WEATHER ARRIVES. IT IS THEN BROUGHT TO A HOPPER AND AUTOMATICALLY FED INTO A BURNER.

THE BURNER GENERATES HEAT THAT’S TRANSFERRED TO A WATER BOILER AND THE HOT WATER MOVES UNDERGROUND TO THE POULTRY HOUSES AND TO THE HEAT EXCHANGERS INSIDE… TO HEAT THE BABY BIRDS. AFTER GOING THROUGH THE HEAT EXCHANGERS, THE COLD WATER RETURNS TO THE BOILER TO BE RE-HEATED.

[Nats of Mac demonstrating the system during that voice over] >>Morrill “Mac” Curtis: Jamie: “How much litter is needed to make this happen?” Mac: “About 300 Ton to heat about 60,000 square feet.” >>Jamie, Reporter: WHILE THE SYSTEM SEEMED LIKE IT WOULD HELP CURTIS REACH HIS GOALS, HE KNEW FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE WAS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

CURTIS TURNED TO GRANT WRITER DENISE BECHDEL WITH PENN STATE OUTREACH’S SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER.

>>Denise Bechdel, Regional Environmental Consultant, Penn State SBDC: “He was awarded $156,000 for the project. The total project cost him about $218,000 for the burner.” “He has less than a two year return on his investment and he’s up and heating both of his poultry barns and it’s turning out to be a wonderful project.” >>Jamie, Reporter: OF COURSE, ALONG WITH GRANTS COMES THE NEED FOR RESULTS AND THAT IS WHAT PENN STATE’S DR. PAUL PATTERSON’S TEAM OF COLLEAGUES AND STUDENTS ARE BUSY GATHERING.

>>Allison Bardella, Penn State Senior: “When I’m here I will collect manure samples, air samples—so I collect CO2 and ammonia levels in the houses to see what they compare against propane houses and then I collect the ash samples and we take that back and we're looking to see what the ash does.” >>Paul Patterson, Penn State Professor, Extension Specialist-Poultry: “To be actually burning litter, brooding birds, reducing propane use and growing good, quality birds and seeing them benefit from this environment is really exciting. And now that we have the ash in our hands and we’re making those evaluations, it looks very promising for recycling that phosphate as both a fertilizer and feed phosphate so it’s exciting to be working on this project.” >>Jamie, Reporter: EXCITING FOR HIS STUDENTS AS WELL… >>Allison Bardella: "It’s really opening my eyes to see the different sides of animal science that I can work with.” [Nats of Allison with Mac] >>Jamie, Reporter: AND WHILE DATA CONTINUES TO BE COLLECTED AT WINDVIEW FARM AND PROMISING RESULTS CONTINUE TO EMERGE, A NEW GOAL FOR THIS GROUP IS TO SPREAD THE WORD.

>>Paul Patterson: “I think there’s real potential for other growers to save money and recycle these phosphates in sensitive watersheds and then do this in a collective way and have a real market outlet for it as well.” >>Denise Bechdel: “If there’s a grant out there that can help a farmer, not only on biomass, but energy efficiency—wind, solar—any type of project, energy management if it’s a USDA grant, a US funded grant or a state funded grant, I can help farmers, small businesses apply for those types of grants.” >>Morrill “Mac” Curtis: “I'm very optimistic as far as our end results. Everything looks really, really good. At this point, I'm real happy.” >>FOR PENN STATE OUTREACH… I’M JC.

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