New water management app
By Jane RobinsonFeatures New Technology
Poultry Innovation Partnership research associate Mohammad Afrouziyeh developed a customized water solution to help poultry farmers improve productivity.
Water quality plays an important role in overall flock health and performance. But every farm has a unique water supply and system so providing general guidelines about water management is generic at best.
A group of Alberta poultry researchers set about to construct a customized decision-making tool that could streamline the resources available for poultry producers looking for customized solutions to drinking water issues to improve productivity.
“We knew there is a wealth of information on water management in poultry farms, but no systematic way to identify and address specific types of water challenges on an individual farm,” says Mohammad Afrouziyeh, research associate with the Poultry Innovation Partnership (PIP) and sessional university lecturer in animal nutrition at the University of Alberta.
A collaborative approach
Afrouziyeh led a collaborative team that drew on the expertise of researchers, industry and producers to create what they believe to be the first Made-in-Canada app for drinking water management on poultry farms.
He credits Dr. Val Carney, PIP leader and associate professor at the University of Alberta, for the idea behind the project based on stories she was hearing at producer meetings about challenges in bird performance and liveability related to water management.
Afrouziyeh began the project by reviewing existing resources on water management for poultry farms. He collaborated with poultry water management experts to be sure their net was cast wide enough to capture relevant water management knowledge when building and powering the app.
“I distilled all this information into a user-friendly format to create an app that would identify challenges and help producers make informed decision about the actions needed to manage and treat water,” says Afrouziyeh.
The resulting app – the PIP Poultry Water App – uses a decision-tree style to gather input from the user and provide solutions geared to individual challenges identified by farm. The app is applicable for all types of poultry operations.
There are two key components to the app. The first part consists of 63 multiple choice questions in five sections that cover observational, mineral and microbiological test results, plus on-farm water testing procedures and water system maintenance. Based on answers provided, the app generates recommendations for each section, including solutions and actions as needed.
The second part contains resources on water quality that include video protocols on water sampling, microbial treatment and water sanitation, waterline cleaning during and between flocks, biofilm cleaning, drinking water vaccination, well shock chlorination and on-farm water test tools.
“The app represents a significant advancement for poultry farmers, giving them the tools to manage drinking water systems efficiently that will result in healthier birds, increased productivity and reduced costs,” says Afrouziyeh.
A wholistic look
What’s truly unique about this app is the big picture, whole farm view. “We need to connect the dots and look beyond just microbiology or mineral tests when it comes to water management,” says Afrouziyeh. “The app is much more robust than a lab test report because it includes other aspects of water management to determine where any problems are coming from.”
During the development and testing of the PIP Poultry Water App, the team connected with about 30 poultry farmers in Alberta to test it and provide feedback to refine and enhance the functionality of the tool.
And in 2024, Afrouziyeh and PIP will be working with the Egg Farmers of Alberta to conduct on-farm research to measure and evaluate the real-world impact of the app on about 10 poultry farmers in the province. “We expect this research will give us valuable insights about how the app is recognizing potential water-related challenges, improving water quality and quantity, and overall farm productivity,” says Afrouziyeh.
While they don’t have data on number of app users yet, Afrouziyeh says they are actively monitoring user engagement and feedback on the website, that includes a user feedback section to help the team continue to refine the app. Poultry producers in Europe and the U.S. have also shown interest in the app.
The PIP Poultry Water App is available at pippoultrywaterapp.com for a one-time fee of $49.
Poultry Innovation Partnership is a consortium of government, university and industry focused on making knowledge and information available and translatable into action for end users. The PIP Poultry Water App project received funding from Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) and the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).
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