By Mike Surbrugg
DIAMOND, Mo. — Six large chicken houses south of Diamond are being heated by burning hay bales.
Martin Youngblood and sons Doug and Bruce worked three years to turn their concept into a big, outdoor stove. They even have patents on parts of the system.
“A lot of time was invested,” said Doug Youngblood.
In a move to lower heating costs, they and many other poultry growers in the area are turning to alternative heat sources, burning coal, wood, corn and poultry litter.
A major source of fuel for the Youngblood operation is fescue baled after seed is harvested. The stove also works with baled corn or milo, and the family would like to try some switch grass hay as a heat source.
“This unit can burn thistles, other weeds or anything as long as it is dry,” Bruce Youngblood said. The fuel needs to have no more than 16 percent moisture.
The oven is located between two of the six poultry houses at the Youngblood Farm. Each of their poultry houses has 130,000 birds. The farm gets six flocks a year and heat is needed on at least four of the flocks.
The burn chamber has a door so large a round bale of hay can be pushed into it. The oven can hold two round bales. The door is cooled by circulating water between steel panels.
It takes five to six hours to burn a large hay bale. The family burns four or five bales a day in winter months.
Two 4,000-gallon water storage tanks are nearby to supply enough water to heat the poultry houses. Heated water circulates through buried lines into three large radiators with fans in each house. The number of radiators emitting heat can be adjusted based on the age of the birds and outside temperatures.
By Mike Surbrugg
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