US-based meat producer Tyson Foods and Auburn University’s National Poultry Technology Center (NPTC) have opened a solar-powered poultry house, which will be operated completely off the grid.

Located in Cullman County, Alabama, the 54ft by 500ft poultry house will have the capacity for 36,000 broiler chickens.

Auburn College of Agriculture dean Paul Patterson said: “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.

“The research will provide important, new information on how solar power technology can improve environmental sustainability and profits for farmers.”

The poultry house will be one of two similar houses on Tim and Selena Butts’ farm in Cullman County, where 5.5lb broilers will be hatched.

One will be the control house, while the other will be operated exclusively by solar power, also known as standalone solar for poultry (SASP).

The house will derive power from the photovoltaic (PV) panel or solar cell, a battery set and a generator.

On-site researchers will compare the energy of the house regularly with the normal operation of the twin house located next door over a one-year cycle.

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

“Through our partnership with Auburn University’s NPTC, we are creating a model for the future of the industry, one that is more sustainable and brings critical value and insights, previously unavailable, to poultry farmers.”