One of the biggest myths regarding house preparation during summer months is that since it only takes an hour or two to heat the litter proper pre-heating time is not required. In reality, proper litter curing requires a 48-hour pre-heat regardless of the time of year. When growers neglect to pre-heat for 48 hours during the summer months the litter does not cure. That means the litter is then still purging ammonia when the chicks are placed and ammonia levels are above 50 PPM in most houses during minimum ventilation.
The good news is that pre-heating is easy in summer months. Brooders will barely cycle to maintain air temperature during the pre-heat process. Simply turn on the brooders to the required set temperature 48 hours prior to the new chicks arriving; only run ventilation if necessary to prevent the house from sweating. This usually only requires about 5 minutes run time every hour. The 48 hour pre-heat will cure the litter by releasing excess moisture and ammonia. It will also warm the litter evenly form sidewall to sidewall and deep into the litter bed.
Keep in mind that once birds are placed and fans switch to continuous run due to temperature within the house, the extra ventilation rapidly cools off the top layer of the litter if the entire litter bed has not been properly warmed. This causes chicks to sit down in the litter and prevents them from eating as they should. Chicks that don’t eat because they get cool are chicks that don’t grow. Not a good choice for any grower’s bottom line.