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Renewable Energy Used in Chicken Production

by 5m Editor
17 March 2009, at 8:30a.m.

BRAZIL - The high electric energy cost of poultry farms caused Raimundo Alves Ferreira to seek a solution that could generate more economy for his production. The way out was the use of biodigesters consuming chicken bedding (a mixture that includes poultry droppings).

"It was the way we found to generate energy, reduce cost and help the environment," explained Mr Ferreira, who has been working with poultry for eight years in the city of Palmeiras do Tocantins, 477 km away from Palmas, capital of the state of Tocantins. In 2002, he started studying the operation of biodigesters, but he only found practical applications considering the use of cattle and pork droppings.

With the support of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), of technical missions by the Sebrae and by Recolast, a company based in the state of São Paulo that is responsible for the installation of biodigesters, Mr Ferreira managed to bring the technique to poultry farming. The challenge was making the equipment reach the gas levels necessary for the production of electricity.

In July 2007, the equipment was placed at a farm and in August 2008 came the first methane burn. "Now we are testing the best kind of engine. We want to make the entire chicken farm operate with energy generated from chicken," he said.

According to Mr Ferreira, this technology should help much in the reduction of expenses with electric energy. For his chicken farm, which hatches 42,000 birds every 60 days, electric energy costs represent 30-40 per cent of the production cost. "My poultry farms cost between 3,000 Brazilian reals (US$ 1,300) and 4,000 reals (US$ 1,700) in electricity per batch. Each unit operates for around 60 days, being 45 for chicken breeding and 15 for sanitary management of the cages," he explained. "The climate here is very hot, so we have to cool the cages, and that requires much energy," he finished off.

"It is always important for producers to be aware and to seek solutions that may improve the production conditions, reducing cost, increasing profit margins and generating new markets," pointed out Raimundo. After the tests with the biodigester, he is already considering producing biofertilizer, also from chicken bedding, and generating greater autonomy for his property, developing other activities.