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Introduction Of Thermal Dehydration For Routine Dead Bird Disposal


Phoenix-Sentry, located in Texas, has supplied a number of thermal dehydration installations to broiler growers to dispose of routine daily mortality.  Given the risks of introducing avian influenza to egg complexes using contractors to transport dead birds to rendering or landfills has stimulated interest in alternative methods of on-farm disposal.  Composting requires labor and the purchase of cellulose substrates.  Incinerators use high-price diesel or gas and require careful management and frequent maintenance.  Rotary drum composters are expensive and share the drawbacks of pit composting.


The principle of thermal dehydration involves heating of a batch of dead hens to 195F over a 12-hour cycle while undergoing rotation.  The product resembles poultry by-product meal with a yield of 40 percent of the dead bird input.  The nutritional value of the product compares to poultry by-product meal with a crude protein exceeding 70 percent, lysine at 6 percent and methionine of 1.5 percent.  Based on nutrient assay, value is estimated at $475 per ton.  The system has been evaluated and approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on the basis of total particulate and volatile organic compound emissions each of 0.007 lb. per operating hour.


A financial feasibility study was conducted on a model TDS 2000 installation, capable of processing the routine mortality of 0.3 percent per week from a one million hen complex.  Batches of 1,720 pounds of raw material would be transferred to the thermal dehydrator each day, yielding 680 pounds of hen meal each twelve-hour cycle.


The capital cost of complete installation would include the TDS2000 at $75,000 together with a suitable shed, concrete pad, handling equipment, storage bins and three-phase power connection for a total of $137,000. 


Annual cost of operation would include a fixed cost of $31,700, including depreciation on buildings and installations at 7.5 percent per annum and on the TDS 2000 and other mechanical components carrying a 20 percent per annum rate.  Fixed costs include interest at 5.0 percent and provisions for maintenance and overhead.


Variable costs include power at approximately $9,000 per year and maintenance and labor amounting to $27,032.   The value of product attains $59,500 annually plus savings associated with a transport contract to remove dead birds.  Over the first five years of operation during which depreciation on mechanical components would amount to $17,000, operation of the TDS 2000 would provide a positive cash flow of $3,100.  After depreciation of the equipment, annual cash flow would be $20,100.


The Phoenix-Sentry thermal disposal system provides a practical solution to disposal of routine mortality, reduces the risk of introducing avian influenza and provides positive cash flow.