CULLMAN, ALA. – Tyson Foods Inc. and Auburn University’s National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) have announced plans to develop the largest standalone solar powered poultry house.

The new house will be one of two identical houses on Tim and Selena Butts’ farm in Cullman county, Ala. The houses stand at 54-foot by 500-foot and hold 36,000 broilers each where 5.5-lb broilers will be grown.

“Auburn University’s NPTC will work closely with Tyson Foods and Southern Solar Systems to provide leadership in the application of solar power technology to broiler production houses,” said Paul Patterson, dean of Auburn’s College of Agriculture. “The research will provide important, new information on how solar power technology can improve environmental sustainability and profits for farmers.”

The poultry house’s power will come from three components: photovoltaic (PV) panel or solar cell, a battery set and a generator. Researchers on the property will be compared to the regular energy use in the normal operation in the twin house over a 12-month cycle.

“The combination of solar and batteries along with the other technologies are converting power to usable alternating current (AC) that’s identical to grid power,” said Dennis Brothers, extension specialist with NPTC. “Electricity drives all functions in poultry houses and is the largest variable cost for poultry farmers. We believe this new system may reduce costs for farmers while increasing efficiency.”

Tyson said the data and insights obtained from the project would identify sustainable practices and different forms of energy to share throughout the poultry profession.

“Ultimately, this project will allow us to identify how solar houses might improve farmer profitability and bring increased efficiency to the poultry industry,” said Chip Miller, vice-president of poultry live operations for Tyson Foods.

Mr. Miller also mentioned the rising costs of electricity and unpredictability of long-term grid power created the need to study these poultry houses.

“Looking ahead, we are eager to evaluate the efficacy of the solar house and its impact on farmer profitability,” he said. “We expect this pilot to be the first of many, as we continue to leverage the power of collaboration to drive progress in the poultry industry.”