Turkeys come home to roost

Norwegian poultry farm harvests unexpected benefits

Back in 2015, Integrated Reefer News reported on a great feelgood story from Norway involving organic chickens and turkeys.

Lying deep in Norway’s spectacular Hardangerfjord, around 50 km east of Bergen, the Homlagarden poultry farm is based in a former mill. The business began life in 1974 with ten turkey chicks. Today, this regional specialist in organic poultry raises several thousand late-breeding Red Jack chickens and black turkeys.

In 2014, the company established its own cold store. During the planning process, they were keen to find an innovative and environmentally friendly way of running it. After comparing the available options, owners Bjørn Brynjolf Pedersen and Els Geelen settled on a customised construction concept centred on Star Cool refrigerated reefer containers.

Challenge convention and stay cool
Reefers are regularly used on an ad hoc basis for overflow or emergency cooling operations on land, but it is unusual to see them employed on a permanent basis. Nevertheless, the concept makes excellent commercial and environmental sense. In comparison, each Star Cool reefer container is 21 times as energy efficient as a top-rated domestic refrigerator.

The original refrigeration concept for the Homlagarden farm cold store involved six Star Cool reefers split across two freezer rooms. Equipped with two reefers, the smaller room was used for the fast initial freeze at a set point of -30 degrees Celsius. The four reefers in the larger room were for longer-term storage at a set point of -22 degrees.

If the system works, build on it
This system worked so well and so cost-efficiently that the Homlagarden farm team have since doubled its capacity, as Els Geelen explained:  

“Following the initial installation, we quickly added a further Star Cool reefer in a cold room and sited four more units in the slaughterhouse in 2018. A year later, we purchased yet another Star Cool to handle waste materials from the carcasses. That means we now have a total of 12 Star Cool units in operation on the farm.”  

All of Homlagarden’s Star Cool reefers were ordered with water-cooling condensate with an eye to reusing the waste heat in some way. As their cold store was going to be generating a lot of hot water as a by-product of the cooling process, the owners decided to use this to supply an under-floor heating system.  

Permanent benefit loop
Accordingly, they designed and implemented a piping system that feeds the waste heat to a 4,000-litre water tank. From there, it is fed into a pipe-based floor heating system. The result is that they are now able to heat the entire Homlagarden farm complex effectively for free.  

The Homlagarden team are delighted with their Star Cool reefers. They knew at time of purchase that they were getting the most energy-efficient and reliable reefers on the market. Five years later, they are also enjoying comfortable indoor temperatures at zero extra cost and without increasing the business’s environmental footprint. Eco poultry feeds eco heating.