LRIC Update: Innovative poultry solutions
By Lilian Schaer, Livestock Research Innovation CorporationFeatures New Technology
Highlighting advancements that improve animal welfare, barn management and the environment.
Research and innovation have been essential in helping farmers produce more food and do so faster and more economically. But the power of innovation is also being put to use to address issues of a greater good, like animal welfare, labour and environment. There are many examples in the poultry sector of solutions that do just that.
According to Livestock Research Innovation Corporation CEO Mike McMorris, a large part of the organization’s mandate is to support innovation at all stages of the livestock value chain.
That includes fundamental research, often an essential building block in the development of new technologies. It also comprises the network and relationship building that is key to helping innovators market their solutions.
Poultry has struggled with how to handle the male chicks resulting from breeding for laying hens. They don’t grow as quickly as broilers or have tender meat. Thus, they aren’t moved into meat production.
A Canadian innovation called Hypereye, which has received considerable financial support from Egg Farmers of Ontario and government programs, could be the answer. It’s a light-based technology developed at McGill University that can separate male eggs from female ones the day they are laid. This ensures that only female eggs are incubated and hatched. It is now in the commercialization stage.
Ontario-based start-up Transport Genie is trialing its real time data capturing system with one of Switzerland’s largest integrated poultry companies, Prodavi SA. Using sensors, the system monitors microclimate conditions inside poultry and livestock trailers and shares that information with the supply chain to help maintain welfare during transport. Prodavi transports over 1.5 million day-old layer chicks to Swiss poultry farms annually, as well as more than 15 million hatching eggs.
Research at the University of Guelph into how different light sources affect poultry brains led to the development of AgriLux, LED spectrum lighting specifically for poultry. In addition to increasing egg laying by up to five eggs per hen per year, it has been proven to reduce birds’ stress levels, resulting in lower mortality and increased growth.
Irish agri-tech company BHSL has developed a patented on-farm system called Fluidised Bed Combustion that converts chicken manure into energy for heating and electricity generation for farm needs. It’s low in emissions and produces a fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorus as a by-product.
Danish climate system company SKOV has a ventilation system that can be customized to both a farmer’s barn and their local climate region. This ensures optimal air quality within the barn all the time.
And Dutch ventilation supplier Scan-Air makes windows and doors specifically for livestock use instead of simply installing “regular” windows into barns. The Scan-Air windows each have their own dark-out features that makes it possible to regulate interior light directly through the windows.
Up and coming too are robots that can do anything from keeping birds moving around in barns for added health benefits to egg collection and cleaning and disinfection. Work is also underway to automate various stages of poultry processing using artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things makes it possible to constantly gather data and monitor almost every aspect of a bird’s life.
“Innovation has been key to the growth and success of Canada’s poultry sector, and it remains vital to helping the poultry value chain address ongoing challenges and emerging issues,” McMorris adds.
Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) fosters research collaboration and drives innovation in the livestock and poultry industry. Visit www.livestockresearch.ca or follow @LivestockInnov on Twitter.
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