Kristy Nudds

Kristy Nudds

This book provides information on the needs and responses of poultry to aspects of the climatic environment, by means of reviews of the scientific literature. Biological responses to environmental factors are discussed, as well as some principles of the movement of air through and within buildings. Many of the principles apply to both indoor production and to the housing attached to free range systems.

For more information on this book or to order it visit the Annex Bookstore.

This book provides information on the needs and responses of poultry to aspects of the climatic environment, by means of reviews of the scientific literature. Biological responses to environmental factors are discussed, as well as some principles of the movement of air through and within buildings. Many of the principles apply to both indoor production and to the housing attached to free range systems. |READ MORE

After a very long winter and wondering if spring would ever come, it’s nice finally to be cresting the summer season!

Hopefully many of you were able to attend the annual meeting of your marketing board(s) this winter. Of those I attended, it was great to see so many familiar faces, meet new people, and talk with producers and industry representatives. The mood and energy were very good, indicating that 2010 was a positive year for most people involved in the poultry industry. Canadian Poultry associate editor Jim Knisley tells us just how good the year has been – check out his column on page 42.

In late April, the annual Poultry Industry Conference and Exhibition (known as the London Poultry Show) was held at the Western Fairgrounds. With the date change and a few hiccups regarding late mailing of exhibitor packages and lack of name badges, the show was a successful one. As Tim Nelson of the Poultry Industry Council points out (page 24), the show did not appear all that different from last year, because advances in technology often take more than just one year to be really obvious.
However, comfort can be found in the fact that the show has the same “look” from year to year. Companies involved in the industry continue to be prosperous, and as always the show provided an opportunity for producers locally and across the country to meet with these companies face to face. There was also ample opportunity for them to talk with fellow producers about important issues and about what’s happening in the industry.

Trends at the show were similar to last year’s – energy-saving technologies and new cage systems for layers. These trends will continue for the next several years as energy prices continue to skyrocket and the uncertainty around conventional cage systems remains.

According to a report from the Rabobank Group (see page 8), poultry is set to overtake pork as the most popular meat in the world by 2030. This is great news for our industry and something we’ve been working toward for some time; however, with rising energy and feed costs, our industry and the poultry industries throughout the world must continue to strive to maintain efficient production using fewer resources. Given these challenges, along with a late start for seeding across the country and a smaller than expected grain crop in North America last year, sustainability is the latest buzzword in agriculture. But it’s more than just a trend – competition for resources among livestock and energy industries is certain to be the biggest challenge we will face in the next five to 10 years.

It requires creative solutions, and not necessarily big investments. Often a “tweaking” of one’s own production system and a little ingenuity goes a long way. Our cover story (page 16) is an example of such creativity. Ontario turkey producer Dirk Heeg solved some of his natural ventilation control issues in a creative, yet relatively simple, way. He shares his story with us, and I thank him and other producers who let us know what they’ve been doing on their farms to increase efficiency. I encourage anyone else to do the same: let us know if you have implemented any changes on your farm that have increased your productivity or saved you time and money. We can all learn from one another, and this exchange of ideas will help us to meet the challenges we are facing as an industry.

May 12, 2011 - In it's 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report (CSR) released last week, Loblaws has stated that it will work with industry to transition all President's Choice brand eggs to cage-free.

The 2010 CSR Report: The Way  We Do Business details Loblaw's social responsibility achievements and key areas  of focus. Through its approach to CSR, Loblaw looks to meet the needs of today while laying the foundation to address potential future challenges.

"In 2010 we continued to make progress against CSR targets and I am particularly  pleased with our efforts to reduce our environmental impact and improve the sustainability of our food supply," said Galen G. Weston, executive chairman,  Loblaw Companies Limited. "Looking forward we recognize the increased importance Canadians are placing on making good diet, health and nutrition choices. We  believe Loblaw can and should be a meaningful partner in addressing these concerns."

Among the innovative initiatives in 2010 that the Company believes will serve to be building blocks for its long-term vision, Loblaw granted a $3 million gift to the University of Guelph to establish the Loblaw Companies Limited Chair in Sustainable Food Production, and took a leading role in the development of the
 Conference Board of Canada's Centre for Food in Canada, which aims to develop a framework for a national food strategy.

Loblaw's approach to business is guided by five corporate social responsibility pillars: Respect the Environment, Source with Integrity, Make a Positive Difference in our Community, Reflect our Nation's Diversity and Be A Great Place to Work.

The commitment to cage-free eggs by the end of 2011 was made under the pillar of Source with Integrity.  Canadian Poultry magazine will publish further details once they are known.

This publication is written by Drs Leeson and Summers, who together have over 70 years experience in servicing the needs of this specialized industry.

Specialists and managers in the broiler breeder industry will welcome this comprehensive review of all aspects of commercial production systems.

Most current poultry production publications pay little attention to broiler breeders, and what data is covered is of little relevance to the modern industry.

For more information, click here

"Lack of understanding on the part of consumers creates a huge information vacuum that is too frequently filled by our detractors,” Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Kansas City-based Center for Food Integrity, told attendees at the recent joint Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC) and Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment (AGCare) annual general meeting.

As a result, agriculture producers are finding their practices under scrutiny, and feeling as though they have to defend what they do. “Producers likely didn’t choose to be involved in public relations or public policy – most got involved in agriculture and food production because they have a passion for it,” he said. “They expect to have the freedom to operate their farms, but this freedom is being threatened by increased regulation, legislation, and market requirements.”

“We need to stop fighting the definition that others give us, and really start defining who we are, to build consumer trust,” he said.

Until the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) was formed in 2007, building trust with consumers was not a strategy employed by agriculture. Traditionally, agriculture has employed two strategies to combat misinformation or questions concerning its practices: provide science-based reasoning, or go on the attack.

The CFI is a not-for-profit organization whose members represent each segment of the food chain, including farmers and ranchers, universities, food processors, restaurants, retailers, and food companies. The organization brings together stakeholders to reach consumers in meaningful ways with a unified voice. Its goal is to promote dialogue, model best practices, address issues that are important to consumers and serve as a resource for accurate, balanced information about the food system. The CFI does not lobby or advocate on behalf of individual food companies, producer groups or brands.

Early in its formation during a stakeholder engagement seminar, Arnot said he had an “aha” moment. “The vice-president of Social Corporate Responsibility for one of the leading global quick-service teams, said that agriculture thinks it has an image problem, but it doesn’t,” he said. “Agriculture has a trust problem.”

These are fundamentally different problems that require different approaches, said Arnot. So the CFI partnered with Iowa State University and decided to figure out what it takes to build trust in food.

The two groups performed a meta-analysis of 21 different pieces of existing research, and identified three common drivers for what leads consumers to have trust in something:

  • influential “others” (i.e., family, friends and other respected people who can influence opinion)
  • competence (technical ability, scientific validation)
  • confidence – a perception of shared values and ethics (i.e., can a consumer count on you to do what is right?)

They then surveyed 6,000 consumers over a period of three years on the issues of food safety, animal welfare, nutrition and sustainability. What they found is that, when it comes to building trust, shared values (confidence) are three to five times more important than competence.

Historically, the agriculture and food industries have spent the majority of their public relations efforts on competence, rather than on shared values, said Arnot. “In terms of how we engage with the public, we’ve had the equation backwards.”

Arnot said that consumers have questions: Should you be housing animals that way? Should you be feeding them the way you do? Should you be using that crop technology, or using GM seed? “We’ve told them that science says we can,” he said. “But we’ve been answering the wrong question. We’ve substituted scientific validation for ethical justification.”

He said that sometimes the industry has undermined its own credibility simply by talking about who it is, and what it does. It answers consumers’ questions with responses such as “we take care of the animals and the land because if we’re more productive, we’re more profitable.” He, like many others, has used a similar type of response, he said. But by doing so, producers are giving consumers the idea that they are not doing it because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s profitable.

Opponents of agriculture (activist groups, environmental groups, etc.) rate higher in terms of a moral hierarchy in the minds of consumers because their values are committed to a cause, based on a set of principles (i.e., the “right” thing to do). Business ranks lower on the scale, “so when we come to the table talking in terms of profit, we are coming to the table three touchdowns down,” said Arnot.

“We come in with a significant credibility deficit. Is it right? Is it justified? No, but it’s reality, so we have to deal with it.”

The good news is that consumers have trust in farmers. The problem is, they aren’t sure that contemporary food production is still considered farming, he said.

The CFI has developed a model for communicating with consumers that can be used by agricultural groups and those involved in the food industry. The model was developed to protect a producer’s freedom to operate, and protect the “social licence” to produce food. A social licence, in this context, is defined as the privilege of operating with minimal formalized restrictions (i.e., regulations, market requirements) based on maintaining public trust by doing what’s right.

“If the public trusts you to do what is right, they will grant you that social licence,” said Arnot. “They won’t feel the need to restrict your freedom to operate.”

This social licence is not an act of altruism, said Arnot, but rather enlightened self-preservation. “It’s an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are operating in a way that is consistent with a consumer’s values.”

The CFI model is based on three pillars of sustainable balance: scientific verification, economic viability and ethical grounding.

“We can’t get rid of science, we have to have good science,” said Arnot. “But it has to play a different role in our public conservation.”

Of course, if a production system is not economically viable, then it is not sustainable. This needs to remain part of the discussion, but, like science, it cannot be the sole reasoning or justification for producing food using certain production practices, because it holds no “value” to a consumer. “We need to help consumers understand the benefits of agricultural production practices to society, not just to us,” said Arnot

What is really key to the model is the premise of being ethically grounded. “When we talk about science, we have increased a consumer’s knowledge, but we haven’t changed anything about what the person believes or how they may feel, and this person is more likely to act on the latter,” he said.

The CFI has redefined agriculture as the “ethical” choice – in order to produce the food we need, we must do so with fewer resources using responsible systems. “This creates a very broad base of support, and the nice part is that this is what agriculture has been doing for the last 40 to 50 years.”

But we haven’t approached it in the right way, as we haven’t let consumers know how our increases in efficiency benefit them or society. We must change our language, Arnot said: telling consumers that increases in efficiency use less land and water, and have a smaller environmental footprint, is more reassuring than simply telling them we are more efficient.

“We have good ethical reasons for what we do; we just need to change our language to make it meaningful to consumers,” he said.

Arnot gave an example of how to do this. When approached with a question regarding animal care from a concerned consumer, he suggested giving an answer similar to the following: “As a food producer, I recognize that I have an ethical obligation to the animals, my employees, the environment, my customers and my community. Here is what I am doing every day to live up to this . . .”

Arnot said that the agriculture industry can overcome bias in size and practices used if it shows commitment to four key values: safe food, the environment, care for animals and contribution to community.

This value-based communication is essential to CFI’s trust model. The model has three strategic platforms: build trust via communication, redefine the food system as the “ethical” choice, and support consumer choice.

The CFI works with agricultural and food industry groups on messaging as well as ongoing research. Working with food retailers and processors began in 2010 because of increasing pressure from animal activists. Currently, activists meet with big brands such as Costco, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s quarterly in Washington, D.C. Ongoing CFI research has helped retailers understand that, when it comes to who is responsible for animal welfare, retailers are at the bottom, and they don’t have to own the issue or take responsibility for it.

Activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have focused on retailers and state legislators for the past few years, and have deep pockets: they are beginning to employ the same types of tactics here in Canada.

That has Paul Hodgman, former executive director of Alberta Pork and a speaker at the joint OFAC/AGCare meeting, worried. He has been hired by the farm animal councils in Canada to help develop a Canadian food industry strategy to bridge the gaps in the supply chain between the farm and the food industies.

As the CFI realized, Hodgman says here in Canada, we need to approach the issue of animal activism in agriculture in new ways.

“The issues we are dealing with are so national and universal in scope, that dealing with it as one commodity is too difficult,” he says.

The changes activist groups demand seem small and for the better of animals, but these groups are never satisfied, and will continue to push for more. “This costs money, and producers don’t have much say in it. The whole supply chain is affected,” he says.

He notes that Canada’s agriculture industry is fragmented; our supplier, food producers and retailers don’t always talk to one another and don’t have strategy sessions. That’s why the existing farm animal councils in Canada are working together to develop the strategy, with the goal of enhancing consumer trust and confidence in food and farming in Canada.

The Canadian strategy will follow a lot of the core options in the CFI strategy, with some Canadian adaptations, says Crystal MacKay, executive director of OFAC. Specific objectives include addressing key areas such as animal welfare and the environment. Primary targets are the food industry, supply chain partners and agri-food industry professionals. Consumers are secondary targets. A better place for consumer outreach is the new FarmCare Foundation, developed in the fall of 2010 (www.farmcarefoundation.ca).

“We haven’t done enough on the proactive and advocacy side,” says Hodgman. “We don’t need to apologize for who we are; we need to change our tactics. We are in a position where we are going to lose our social licence to produce food, and we need to build trust within the system.”

A report on the strategy was completed at the end of April, and implementation of the plan is expected to begin on Sept. 1, 2011.

With barely six weeks to campaign for a national election, the federal parties in Canada had a lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time. Although it wasn’t key to all parties’ platforms, food, rather than just the broader topic of agriculture, was included in the debate for the first time.

This isn’t surprising given that food costs are at their highest since 2008 and projected to increase throughout 2011 and beyond. According to many analysts, the end of the decades-long era of cheap food is drawing near. This should be of concern to potential leaders because, as the cost of basic necessities increases, consumer spending on other goods decreases. This is already happening and, despite the assertion by the Conservatives that Canada has made it through the recession (they assume the recession is over; I beg to differ), the economy is still on shaky ground due to increasing costs not only for food, but for fuel and other energy sources as well.

I give all parties credit for addressing the issues of food security and production in Canada, but I think they still fall short. The New Democratic Party (NDP), the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois have addressed most of the food-related subjects important to voters: local production, sustainable farms, good incomes for farmers and increased funding for home-grown agriculture. All parties, including the Conservatives, are proponents of food sovereignty via some type of national food policy.

All parties have addressed the need for greater food inspection capacity and pledged support for supply-managed industries. The Liberals and the NDP have made the greatest effort to link health-care costs to food, focusing on educating consumers about eating healthy. How this is to be achieved co-operatively between health and agriculture departments is not clear.

As I write this in early April, polls indicate Canada will have either a majority or minority Conservative government on May 2. The Conservatives plan to continue with a more traditional agricultural policy, with a strong focus on export rather than local markets, and express no desire to tackle a national food strategy of any kind.

So, we will likely continue with the status quo. How will farmers and consumers feel about this? It’s hard to say at this point, but I am concerned that consumer backlash over rising food costs will be directly felt by agricultural producers.

Opponents of supply management say that the high prices for dairy and poultry products are due to regulated marketing. Cheap imports threaten other sectors. Although many consumers want to eat Canadian-made food, in tough economic times the wallet often rules over principle, particularly if consumers don’t understand what is going on behind the scenes.

As discussed in this month’s cover story (page 14), the agriculture industry needs to build trust with consumers. We need to communicate values such as safe food, humane animal care, environmental responsibility, and show how we are producing more food with fewer resources, to help them understand the effect each has on society and the prosperity of agriculture.

This is something that a national food strategy, which is currently lacking, will do for us.

Dr. Clover Bench has been awarded the Alberta Farm Animal Care 's (AFAC) 2011 Award of Distinction for Communication.

Bench is an instructor for courses in animal welfare, food animal behavior and companion animal behavior at the University of Alberta, where she serves as teacher, advisor and mentor to dozens of students.

As part of her courses, students have been involved with projects designing innovative solutions and products to support farm animal care. She has also built a strong partnership between student activities and provincial Youth 4-H Clubs in the province, encouraging knowledge transfer and interaction with almost 7,000 Youth 4-Hers.

The award was presented to Bench by Dr. Craig Wilkinson, director of animal care at the University of Alberta. "Clover is making an outstanding contribution to communication about behavior and care of farm animals. She is highly deserving of this award."

Bench emphasized that creating opportunities for people from all walks of life to consider agriculture as a career is important to develop the agriculture leaders of tomorrow. "A big part of that is to help bridge students, including both urban and rural students, into agriculture and animal science," says Bench.

The AFAC Award of Distinction for Communication honours those that take an active role in effectively getting the message out about livestock issues, and informing the public and agri-food industry about farm animal care in a factual and honest way, to build trust and credibility.

March 31, 2011 - A New Entrant Quota Loan Pool (NEQLP) was introduced at the Egg Farmers of Ontario's (EFO) 46th annual meeting.

The aim of the new entrant program is to help individuals enter the supply-managed egg industry in Ontario.  The EFO will allocate a total of 50,000 units of egg quota, over a 10-year period, into the NEQLP.  Each year, up to 5,000 units of egg quota will be loaned to the successful applicant(s). Units of egg quota will be loaned to the successful applicant(s) based on a 1:2 ratio (1 bird purchased, 2 birds loaned).  For example:

  • In order to receive up to a maximum of 2,000 units of loaned quota, the new entrant is required to purchase up to 1,000 units of quota, for a total production of up to 3,000 units of quota

        OR

  • In order to receive up to a maximum of 5,000 units of loaned quota, the new entrant is required to purchase up to 2,500 units of quota, for a total production of up to 7,500 units of quota.


The applicant(s) will return the loaned units of quota into EFO's NEQLP as follows:

(X#)units of loaned quota back into the fool in five (20% each) installments - commencing in the 11th year up to and including the 15th year: 20% in the 11th year, 20% in the 12th year, 20% in the 13th year, 20% in the 14th year, 20% in the 15th year. 

In order to be eligible for EFO's New Entrant Quota Loan Pool, an applicant must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant
  • Be a permanent resident of Ontario
  • Not currently hold quota or been a previous quota holder in any sector under supply management 
  • Priority will be given to persons between the ages of 18 and 45

Applicants who meet the above criteria will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of knowledgeable industry representatives.  EFO will act a a resource for the committee.  The committee members are:

  • Laurent Souligny, former chair of the Egg Farmers of Canada and an Ontario egg farmer
  • Darryl Ball, OMAFRA
  • Craig Bremner, TD CanadaTrust
  • Robert Loree, Ward and Uptigrove
  • Junior Farmers Association of Ontario

Application Process

To apply for the NEQLP, interested individuals must fully complete and submit an application along with a non-refundable $100.00 fee with each application.  The applicant is encouraged to submit a Business Plan along with the application and must also provide either a detailed description of the proposed egg production facility or attach a copy of the deed/transfer of the property where the egg production facility is located.

Contact Judy Ladner Kean, Director of Data, Quota, and HR at the Egg Farmers of Ontario for an application and more information:

Phone: (905) 858-9790 Fax: (905) 858-1589
Toll Free: 1 800-387-8360

Applications are due May 31, 2011.


April 1, 2011 - Canada's largest private poultry processor and a company representing producers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have teamed up to buy the Maple Leaf Foods facility in Berwick.

Value of the transaction, expected to close May 13, was not disclosed in today's announcement.

Maple Leaf announced the closure of its prepared meats plant in Berwick last November, with production scheduled to end April 29.

The buyer is Eden Valley Poultry, a new poultry processing company made up of United Poultry Producers Inc, owned by poultry producers in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and privately owned Maple Lodge
Holding Corp..

The Berwick plant is being converted into a new poultry primary processing facility. It fulfills the commitment Maple Leaf made last November to find an alternate use for the plant.

Immediately upon closure of the transaction, Eden Valley Poultry will begin decommissioning the Maple Leaf facility, with construction and retrofitting to commence as soon as possible.

The new facility is expected to be operational by early summer 2012, processing more than 40 million kilograms of poultry annually and employing about 200 people.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc., with annual sales of some $5 billion, is a leading Canadian food processing company headquartered in Toronto. It employs 21,000 people at operations across Canada and in the
United States, Europe and Asia.


March 22, 2011 - Merck and sanofi-aventis announced today the mutual termination of their agreement to form a new animal health joint venture by combining Merial , the animal health business of sanofi-aventis, with Intervet/Schering-Plough , Merck's animal health unit. As a result, each party will keep its current, separate animal health assets and businesses.

Since the initial announcement about the intended combination on March 9, 2010, both companies have worked diligently to create the proposed animal health joint venture, including submitting requests for the required antitrust reviews. The companies are discontinuing their agreement primarily because of the increasing complexity of implementing the proposed transaction, both in terms of the nature and extent of the anticipated divestitures and the length of time necessary for the worldwide regulatory review process. Merck and sanofi-aventis mutually determined that ending their plan is in the best interests of both companies and their respective shareholders, as well as the employees of Merial and Intervet/Schering Plough.
 
Sanofi-aventis remains strongly committed to its animal health activities, which it will continue to develop under the Merial brand as a growth platform of its diversified health business. Merial is one of the world's leading innovation-driven animal healthcare companies dedicated to research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of veterinary pharmaceuticals and vaccines, that generated annual sales of US $ 2.6 billion in 2010.
 
Merck's Intervet/Schering-Plough is a global leader in the research, development, manufacturing and sale of veterinary medicines and generated sales of US $ 2.9 billion in 2010. Merck remains firmly committed to animal health and intends to capitalize on Intervet/Schering-Plough's broad and innovative portfolio going forward.
 
As a result of termination, both Merial and Intervet/Schering-Plough will continue to operate independently. The termination of the agreement is without penalty to either party and each party is responsible for its own expenses.

March 22, 2011 - Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) today announced that Quebec-based processor Exceldor has been chosen, following a call for bids, to provide frozen chicken products for 2011 to the Ottawa Food Bank via CFC’s Chicken Challenge food donation program.

As part of its new Corporate Social Responsibility Program, Under our Wing, which was launched in late 2009, CFC, in partnership with the Ottawa Food Bank, created a pilot project of the Chicken Challenge in 2010. Under the pilot project, CFC purchased chicken products from processors through a bidding process managed quarterly by CFC, and donated the product to the Ottawa Food Bank.

From April to November 2010, frozen chicken products totaling $50,000 were delivered to the Ottawa Food Bank. This successful pilot project has led to the full launch of the Chicken Challenge with our partner for 2011, Exceldor.

Since 2007, CFC has been a proud partner and supporter of The Ottawa Food Bank. Each year, through proceeds from the Canada Day Great Canadian Chicken Barbecue as well as staff donations, CFC continues to support the mission of the Ottawa Food Bank. Since 2007, about $87,400 has been raised.
“We are proud to support a great charity and to give back to the community which has been our home for more than 30 years,” said David Fuller, Chair of CFC.

In addition, Under our Wing includes donations via CFC employee payroll contributions which will likely top $2,500 in 2011. We are also pleased that B.C.-based Sunrise Farms made a special donation of approximately 600 frozen stuffed chicken breasts to the Ottawa Food Bank earlier this month.

The Ottawa Food Bank’s mission statement is “to collect and distribute food to member agencies serving people in need in the Ottawa area." The Ottawa Food Bank provides 43,000 people each month with emergency food assistance, 37 per cent of whom are children, and supports 145 food programs throughout the Ottawa Region.

“Our partnership with the CFC gives the Ottawa Food Bank an incredible boost in terms of being able to provide the added protein of chicken to our beneficiaries’ diets,” says Peter Tilley, Executive Director of the Ottawa Food Bank. “The Chicken Challenge food donation program is yet another way the CFC is supporting those in need in our community and we are grateful.”


Broiler farm manager Scott Salter has given new meaning to “bringing technology to the farm.” 
He has successfully introduced an in-barn network of cameras that have the ability to record and stream live video in the barn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 360-degree PTZ cameras can pan, tilt, and zoom, offering continuous live viewing of a poultry operation with just one click from anywhere in the world over an IP network.

As the manager of two broiler farms in the Fraser Valley, Salter has utilized his background in computer networking to explore new ways of using modern technology on-farm. Murray Hamm, who owns one of the farms that Salter manages, says that the “in-barn cameras are the most useful tool I’ve come across since starting farming more than 20 years ago.”

With the cameras, Salter can keep an eye on 130,000 birds at two different locations using a computer or any smartphone device. “The cameras are not designed to replace us as farmers, but it’s an additional real-time tool that allows you to see the inside of your operation instantly,” he says.

As both a poultry veterinarian and a broiler grower, Dr. Neil Ambrose agrees that no technology ever replaces sound husbandry practices, and he is interested in implementing the live camera system in his own barns.

“Throughout the production cycle it is critical that there is no equipment failure or environmental mismanagement that could negatively impact the health and welfare of the birds,” he says. “Consideration to utilize the technology available to us all these days only makes sense in order to enhance our ability to care for our birds to the best of our abilities.”

The camera system allows a grower to view the birds’ behaviour, their eating and drinking patterns, whether they are huddling in a particular location (indicating a draft), the up and down time of the lighting program, the available feed in the feed pans, water leaks, as well as fan and inlet operation.

Trouble in the Henhouse
“When you are offsite and there has been a sudden in-barn alarm due to temperature, feed and water changes, you can actually view the details of the alarm and decide the appropriate action to take,” says Salter.

This has come in handy for pinpointing the cause of a problem in its earliest stages, before the situation becomes worse. Salter says that there have been occasions where he has been able to react more quickly than he would have prior to the camera system, such as when a water leak in one of the barns occurred due to a faulty nipple, and when there has been an issue with the feed line auger, resulting in no feed in the feed pans.

According to Salter, the cameras require an Internet connection at the farm and can be installed and configured in one day. Each camera can be controlled and viewed from any type of computer, an iPad, an iPhone or any other smartphone device or tablet. Because security will be a worry for most users, Salter says network security can be enhanced by employing options such as multi-level password protection, IP address filtering, and HTTPS encryption.  To help obtain the necessary bandwidth required for streaming video and control commands over the network, the cameras support Quality of Service (QoS), a network control mechanism that guarantees a certain level of performance to the flow of data.

Challenges Faced
The system is running smoothly now, but it took Salter a year to work out the kinks. Networking wasn’t the biggest obstacle; it was finding the right camera for the job. 

Working with a budget in mind, the challenge was to find a camera that could meet the various demands of viewing the interior of a poultry barn, says Salter. He spent many trial hours narrowing the choices down to a few cameras that could actually meet these demands.

The chosen cameras had to have the ability to pan 360 degrees, tilt up and down and zoom in a 500-foot barn – all over a standard Internet connection. It also had to be functional when the lights are dimmed, providing a clear picture when the light intensity is as low as 0.5 foot-candles, he says.

Size also was a consideration. “The last thing I wanted was a massive device that restricted airflow,” he says. The camera also had to have several mounting options available. “With so many types of poultry barns with various ceiling heights and types of equipment, this was a must.”

Protecting the camera from dust was another requirement, and to solve this, a translucent dome was fitted over the camera. Salter says dust on the dome doesn’t really become a problem until the last week of a cycle. To remove it, he says he cuts a Swiffer duster pad into a small piece to remove any dust on the dome.

Added Benefits
The camera system also allows for enhanced biosecurity.  Conditions in the barn can be checked more often, without having to physically be in the barn and always having to change in and out of coveralls and boots.

What Murray Hamm likes most about the system is its ability to record what the birds are doing, especially at night. “Never before have I been able to see what the birds are doing or where they feel the most comfortable throughout the night,” he says. “Because of this, we are able to see and make changes that we would never have known about before. It’s a small investment that will continue to make positive changes in the way we farm.”

 

Interest Growing
Salter says he has used the live camera system in multiple broiler barns, but there is no limit as to where and what type of operation it can work in. “From broilers to layers, turkeys, dairy, hogs, you name it, these controllable, recordable, live compact cameras will work,” he says.

Currently, he has helped with the installation of in-barn camera systems on three broiler and one layer operation in the Fraser Valley, involving a total of 10 cameras (one per barn floor).

He says that interest in the in-barn camera system among growers continues to climb, and that many have expressed an interest in using exterior barn cameras for security as well. He has five additional broiler growers wanting both indoor and outdoor cameras for their operations. “I am getting calls almost daily from word of mouth alone.”

Other Technology
Another type of technology Salter has implemented is BinMaster’s Smartbob TS-1 sensor to measure feed inventory in real time. The Smartbob is designed for smaller feed bins. As it travels down the bin, when it hits the top of the feed, it stops and retracts back to the top of the bin, allowing Salter to determine the level of feed in the bin. It comes with software that allows him to take manual measurements at any given time, and he can log in remotely from anywhere. “It’s fully customizable,” he says.

Combined with existing forms of remote software to control in-barn computers, having a controllable, live, in-barn view of the birds is one more tool in the toolbox, he says.  “The technology is there, let’s use it!”

If you would like to know more about how to implement an in-barn camera system on your farm, Scott Salter may be contacted by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or by telephone at 604-835-3163.

I received an alarming phone call from an Edmonton man calling himself a “concerned consumer” in mid-February. He was quite angry over an episode of Marketplace, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s so-called consumer watchdog television program.
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