By Dick Hagen
It’s simple…Clean Air is Better!
Nine years ago, John & Matt Baumgartner, entrepreneurial spirits from Olivia, MN began working with some ‘gee whiz’ technology now called EPI Air. That’s short for air quality improved through electrostatic particle ionization. It refers to air-scrubbing by negatively charged ions that clear the air of dust, harmful gases and pathogens.
After several trips back to the drawing board, EPI Air is now accepted by the livestock industry as a robust, user friendly technology poised to change the way confinement livestock producers manage air quality for their livestock.
Now forward move to the most vertically integrated livestock industry in America…the Broiler industry. Check these numbers: In 1950 this young industry produced 1.381 billion lbs. of ready-to-eat- broiler meat. By 2000, that number had exploded to 30.209 billion lbs. For 2014, the estimate from the U.S. Broiler Council is 38.040 billion lbs.
So might this intensely concentrated industry have a need for cleaner air? “You bet”, thought the Baumgartner team. However to verify they, along with Gro Master, the major distributor for EPI Air, asked key broiler industry players what they thought. “Indeed, indeed”, was their collective response; cleaner air is even more important now because the broiler industry is in the midst of switching to antibiotic-free production practices.
Industry integrators directed the Baumgartner team to the UGA Department of Poultry Science.
Bottom line: the world’s foremost experts in basic ionization technology have been assembled to measure the impact of EPI Air on a modern broiler production house. And now some eggs have hatched!
As of December 9th, about 28,000 newly hatched chicks in each of two 50’ x 500’ Georgia broiler houses are spending the next 49 days under the influence of EPI-Air. Broiler birds grow fast…49 days from 8-ounce peeps to 6 lb. broilers.
- Evaluation of the EPI-Air electrostatic space charge system on broiler performance and house environment. That includes bird growth, bird water consumption, and bird mortalities.
With very specific instruments they will be monitoring:
|· Particulate concentrations||· Bird growth|
|· Ammonia concentration||· Bird water consumption|
|· Salmonella||· Airsacculitis|
|· Campylobacter||· Bronchitis challenge|
Commented Matt Baumgartner, BEI General Manager, “This is the most comprehensive broiler test protocol EPI-Air has ever been a part of. We have total respect for these trials. Favorable results can have a tremendous impact on the industry. We’re told that condemnations cost the U.S. broiler industry about $6 million a week.”
“If our system significantly reduces air pollution and thus reduces inflammation of the air sacs within these birds, there could be significant reductions in condemnations. Even a small improvement could save the industry a lot of money.”
The industry is very much aware of growing consumer resistance towards meat products from antibiotic treated sources, thus the move away from systematic antibiotic use. And fewer birds per house (reduced stocking densities necessary to maintain flock health) immediately add to costs per bird produced and does negative things to ROI data (Return on Investment).
Summed up John Baumgartner, “EPI-Air is intriguing because it can improve bird performance and health naturally, meeting consumer demand for antibiotic-free production. Based on all the data we have accumulated from the swine industry, plus data from independent testing carried out by the British Columbia poultry industry (In conjunction with the University of British Columbia), we’re confident cleaner air for these broilers will significantly improve bird health and production.”
“The net result should be improved ROI. As an example, the British Columbia, Canada study generated a 3 point improvement in feed conversion over a 10-cycle test in 20,000 broiler capacity houses. Throw in a significant reduction in condemnations, ammonia, as well as pathogen load in the air and this could be game changing.”
Operational costs of EPI-Air are minimal… in a 50’ x 500’ broiler house the operating cost is about the same as the cost of lighting two 100-watt bulbs. EPI Air is easy to use, too; it is low maintenance and durable.
Today the broiler industry is prospering. Thanks to cheaper feed costs and a continually growing public appetite, it may get even better. Consumption of broiler and chicken meat is now 100 lbs./capita/ year, essentially the equal of red meat consumption. Also poultry exports keep growing. However, the growing consumer demand for antibiotic free broilers could emerge as the biggest overall factor in this new technology.
Note that 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the first Buffalo Wing. The Anchor Bar, Buffalo, New York is where this savory concoction first was served. According to the National Chicken Council 2014 Wing Report, 1.25 billion wings will be devoured during Super Bowl XLVIII. That is about 20 million more wings than were consumed during last year’s Super Bowl. The NCC estimated 4% more chickens (not broilers) were produced in 2014 than the previous year.