CPRC: Smart agriculture in the poultry industry

A smart initiative – When precision agriculture meets big data.
CPRC
July 21, 2017
By CPRC
 The poultry industry has begun adopting smart agriculture methods that provide online, continuous and automatic monitoring of flocks and the environment.
The poultry industry has begun adopting smart agriculture methods that provide online, continuous and automatic monitoring of flocks and the environment. Photo: Getty Images
Smart agriculture is one of several terms used to refer to the expansion of precision agriculture. Poultry producers have adopted some precision agriculture tools, particularly as they relate to the in-barn environment and monitoring barn conditions.

Smart agriculture is the combination of precision agriculture and big data to provide livestock producers with online, continuous and automatic monitoring of animals and their environment to support optimal management.

It uses a broad range of components – big data, robotics, drones, sensors, etc. – that have to be harmonized to provide real-time measurement or estimation. This allows farm managers to immediately react to data and information.

Livestock processing and input sectors are also adopting smart management features in their businesses. However, the poultry sector has been slower than other livestock industries to adopt them. Part of this delay is because very little research and innovation needed to develop poultry sector-specific technologies has been conducted in Canada.

Also, poultry producers may not fully recognize how these tools could enable their sector to generate higher efficiency and productivity. Applying smart agriculture tools to a cow or sow is easier to understand than how they might apply to a chicken or turkey. It is easier to apply monitoring and decision-making systems to large animals that have significant value and that can be fitted with individual monitoring devices.

Yet, there are a few Canadian universities conducting research on smart agriculture applications for poultry. Dr. Martin Zuidhof of the University of Alberta is developing a precision feeder system for broiler breeders to ensure more consistency in bird condition when egg laying begins in order to improve flock production.

What’s more, the University of Guelph’s Dr. Suresh Neethirajan is developing rapid diagnostic tools for use at the point of care, such as within the poultry barn, to identify disease outbreaks without the delay required for laboratory analysis.  

The Canadian Poultry Research Centre (CPRC) recently added smart agriculture tools to the list of categories for its annual call for Letters of Intent (LOI). It is also investigating methods to identify potential industry issues that might be addressed using this comprehensive approach to management information and decision-making systems.

CPRC 2017 Board of Directors

CPRC’s full board returned for 2017 and has been busy working on the 2017 call for LOIs. It has also been hard at work preparing for the expected Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s call for proposals for a new Science Cluster program under the 2018 to 2023 Agricultural Policy Framework and issues that arise from the ongoing administration of the 38 active research projects.

CPRC is grateful to its member organizations for their continued support of its operations and its appointees to the board of directors. Board members include: Tim Keet, chair and Chicken Farmers of Canada representative; Helen Anne Hudson, vice-chair and Egg Farmers of Canada representative; Erica Charlton, representing Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council and the third member of CPRC’s executive committee; Murray Klassen, representing Canadian Hatching Egg Producers; and Brian Ricker, who represents Turkey Farmers of Canada.

CPRC also appreciates the ongoing support and input from staff appointed by member organizations to support their representatives on the board of directors.

CPRC, its board of directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.  For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8, phone: (613) 566-5916, fax: (613) 241-5999, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.cp-rc.ca.

The membership of the CPRC consists of Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.

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