MIPS 25th Anniversary Profile: AviHome–plenum floor ventilation for poultry houses

Leading up to (and beyond) the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) 25th Anniversary Gala, each weekday we will briefly profile one of the 500+ companies that have utilized MIPS funding to bring innovations to market and create jobs in Maryland. These profiles will be collected in a commemorative book, released at the celebration on November 7.

Project Manager:  Felipe Correa;  Principal Investigator:  Jeannine Harter-Dennis, UMES
Location:  Salisbury, Maryland – Wicomico County;  Project Start Date:  2/2/2009

Business Description
AviHome is a Maryland Eastern Shore-based company at the forefront of poultry housing technology. Through partnerships and grant support from various organizations, AviHome has developed a flooring system for production chicken houses that prevents ammonia production.

Challenge
Chicken house floors are typically covered with litter (wood shavings and sawdust), which serves as bedding and absorbs moisture spilled from the waterlines and/or excreted through the birds. When the level of moisture is not managed properly, it is conducive to the bacteria and chemical reaction that produces ammonia.

MIPS Role
AviHome engineers developed a patent-pending plenum flooring system with tiny holes in it that dries the area underneath the chickens, eliminates the need for litter, and reduces ammonia emissions.

MIPS/DNR funding supported several trials conducted by Jeannine M. Harter-Dennis, an associate professor at UMES, with more than 33,000 chickens, to see how the new floors performed.

Results
Trials showed that ammonia emissions were not just reduced, but virtually eliminated. Researchers found that the ammonia-producing bacteria need a basic pH (potentiometric hydrogen ion concentration, a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance) to thrive, and AviHome’s flooring prevented pH from ever even going above seven (the neutral line between an acid or base), which prevented the production of ammonia.

AviHome reported $1 million in contracts/grants from the USDA as a result of its MIPS project.

MIPS-Related Quote
“Our flooring appears to increase general bird health. Whether attributed to improved air quality or the lower bacterial load challenge, we are growing a healthier heavier bird faster; we are taking genetic potential to new levels—naturally.”
–Felipe Correa, Former Operations Manager, AviHome

Interesting Fact
Darkling beetles are also a menace for the broiler industry. They are a major vector for disease while also damaging to poultry houses and food safety.  No darkling beetles were found in the AviHome system trials.

Download the AviHome spread from the upcoming book, “MIPS 25thAnniversary Commemorative Collection: Creating Partners in Innovation,” to be released at the MIPS 25th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 7.

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