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Balancing Temperature, Relative Humidity and Ammonia During Transitional Weather

By October 29, 2020News, PLT

During autumn and spring, it’s not uncommon for outside temperatures to swing 20°F or more. While cool nights and warm days can be a reprieve from the hot days of summer or cool days of winter, the drastic change in temperature tends to make ventilation settings more of a challenge in poultry houses.

Ventilation rates tend to be higher during the warm parts of the day and lower as temperatures cool at night. The fluctuation in ventilation settings can adversely affect relative humidity (RH) and ammonia levels inside the house, causing levels to be higher at night when ventilation rates tend to be lower.

Given the impact environmental conditions can have on bird performance, it’s vital that producers understand these variations and how to adjust house management to address the potentially detrimental effects. For example, producers who spot check ammonia and RH levels solely during the day may not be aware of the conditions their birds are experiencing at night during transitional weather. Ammonia readings taken at noon could be as low as 5 ppm or less while levels at night are four times higher (20 ppm), giving producers a false sense of security.

Rather than rely solely on spot measurements, it is recommended that producers use tools capable of providing continuous tracking or a time-weighted average to account for nighttime fluctuations.


With these easy-to-use tubes, simply break off the tip, attach the tube to a feedline and leave it overnight. The reading should be taken the next day by dividing the reading value by the amount of time that has passed to get average ammonia over that period.

For example, this Dositube reading is 200 ppm. The tube was inside the house for 10 hours; therefore, the average ammonia over that 10-hour period was 20 ppm. Keep in mind that ammonia spikes higher than the recorded average may have occurred during that period.

Data loggers for temperature and humidity

There are many options producers can use to gain a fuller understanding of relative humidity changes throughout the day and then leverage this knowledge to adjust ventilation settings to maintain the desired RH level.

One great option is the Bluetooth-based Onset comp data loggers. These affordable and durable sensors are managed with a free mobile app that allows producers to communicate and program sensors directly from their mobile phone. Data can also be downloaded, graphed and shared via text or email in various file formats to provide a better understanding of environmental conditions.

With more warm days and cool nights ahead, take time now to ensure you have an accurate understanding of the environmental conditions of your poultry houses around the clock.

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