Efficiency
For as long as he can remember, Dan Kampen has been in poultry barns. “My mom introduced me to the barns before I was two years old,” the Abbotsford, B.C. turkey and egg farmer recalls.

After going to university to take teacher training and spending a year in Japan, Kampen returned to the family farm, taking over management of the egg farm with his brother in 1996. “My dad believed in education,” he says. “He even offered me flying lessons.”

Rough start

In 2000, Kampen bought his dad’s turkey farm. Four years later, he bought his present farm with the intent of moving both the turkey and egg production to the new location. It was not exactly the start he had imagined. “Four months later, I had a newborn child and Avian Influenza (AI) hit the Fraser Valley,” the producer says.

Although his flocks were not infected, he was in an AI hot zone and among the first wave of farms to be depopulated. Eventually, all commercial poultry farms in the Fraser Valley were depopulated, destroying about 18 million birds in the highest-density poultry production region in Canada. “I had a year of downtime,” Kampen states. AI has hit the Fraser Valley several times since but Kampen has not had to endure any further depopulations.

When he purchased his farm in 2004, he joined the Fraser Valley Egg Producers Association (FVEPA) and the BC Egg Producers Association boards, serving as FVEPA president for over eight years until stepping down in 2016. It was also when he started growing specialty turkeys for J.D. Specialty Poultry.

Specialty turkeys
“(J.D. owner) Jack (Froese) had talked to me about growing specialty birds for him when I bought my dad’s turkey farm in 2000, but I wasn’t ready and he found another grower. When I bought my new farm in 2004, he talked to me again and I agreed.”

Kampen now grows about 8,000 birds per year for J.D. Although not organic, they are raised without antibiotics and fed an all-vegetable diet. “The flocks are grown for the four main holidays: Easter, the Canadian and American Thanksgivings and Christmas.”

In 2009, he built a new 190-by-48-foot turkey barn. The facility is big enough to grow his quota in two flocks – one for Easter and the other in the fall. “I think RWA (raised without antibiotics) works because I have so much downtime between flocks,” Kampen states, adding the key to such production is to maintain good water and litter quality.

With that in mind, he reduces the pH in his water to reduce challenges, adds Gallinet+ (an organic acid) to the feed and often top-dresses the litter to keep it dry.

Between flocks, the barn gets a full floor wash. When Kampen built the barn, he put a three-inch drop on the floor to the side doors so the rinse water automatically flows to the side. “I am so happy I did that because it reduces the work,” he says.

If turkey quota increases in future, Kampen hopes to grow a third flock in the summer rather than build a brand new barn.



High tech convention
Unlike the turkeys, his egg farm is a conventional caged layer operation. When he built a new egg barn in 2009, it was 15 per cent larger than he needed. However, with all the quota increases egg producers have since received, he has already expanded it to accommodate about 25,000 layers.

The new layer barn has tunnel ventilation, which Kampen says has made a huge difference. “On hot July days, birds were panting in the old barn but I’ve never seen an open mouth in this barn.”

It is also fully metered, with real-time data available on his smartphone. “I was at a meeting in Calgary and noticed lower feed consumption so I asked my worker to check the feed bin. It was plugged. Having that information available makes leaving the farm less stressful.”

He has not decided how and when, or even if, he will transition out of conventional cages but notes he did build an “adaptable” barn. “It was designed so the beams can be removed to create a floor system. It can also be divided into four zones so I can have an aviary in one or more zones.”

Supply management praise
Kampen is a fierce proponent of supply management, saying the future is bright for the Canadian poultry industry if the system is continued and producers can convince consumers of its benefits. He feels that is easier than many believe. “I was involved in a focus group with adult consumers a few months ago. They liked the camaraderie between growers and that we don’t have to compete with each other. They didn’t fully understand supply management but grasped that with it I wouldn’t be forced out of business by a bigger farm.”

He believes one way to sell supply management is to compare it to fair trade in coffee. “People understand the concept of fair trade and if we can associate that with supply management they will support us.”
Published in Producers
July 28, 2017, Shakespeare, Ont. - Faromor Ltd and Faromor CNG Corporation have announced the recent commissioning of one of the first energy independent poultry facilities in Canada.

In affiliation with Toyota Bushoko and YANMAR Micro Combined Heat and Power Systems of Adairsville Georgia, Faromor Ltd and Faromor CNG Corporation have completed the new facility for Steeple High Farms of Tavistock, Ontario Canada.

“This is a timely and welcomed development, distributed generation micro CHP systems deliver high onsite efficiency. They are able to generate the correct amount of power at the right time, making them much more efficient than the electrical grid," said Nicholas Hendry, President of Faromor CNG Corporation.

YANMAR has been perfecting its products and business practices for over 100 years. With units in service in Europe for more than 15 years, YANMAR micro CHP systems have been recognized globally. By utilizing a highly efficient engine and capturing nearly all the remaining energy as heat, the YANMAR micro CHP system is up to 2.6 times as efficient as your current centralized power.

With ease of installation, high reliability and functionality, a reduction in C02 emissions and low operation noise, the YANMAR micro CHP system delivers an energy balance by constantly monitoring power demand and output.

As electrical prices continue to increase, you can gain significant utility bill cost savings by switching to propane or abundant natural gas micro CHP electrical generation for your farm.
Published in Company News
July 27, 2017, Gainsville, GA - Cantrell has made changes to its turkey heart and liver harvester to improve durability and also improve safety for the operator.

The biggest improvement is that the turkey heart and liver harvester is now powered by an electric drive motor instead of being line driven. This eliminates one gear box and therefore eliminating wear points.

The turkey heart and liver harvester is made of all stainless steel and USDA approved plastics. The heavy duty components on the equipment lead to increased durability. It is floor mounted for additional stability.

A lift system, which can be cranked up or down, makes height adjustments easier to accommodate all bird sizes. The versatile turkey heart and liver harvester can also process large chickens. The harvester features two blades that are easily adjusted.

For more information, please contact Cantrell at 800-922-1232, 770-536-3611, or visit the website at www.cantrell.com.
Published in Company News
July 25, 2017, Gainesville, GA - Cantrell, a poultry processing equipment, parts and service company, recently made an upgrade to its CWCS-8400 Wing.

The Cantrell Wing Segmenter now features stainless steel doors which offer better visibility of machine operation and easy access for adjustment. The stainless steel doors can be retrofitted to older machines.

The Cantrell Wing Segmenter is capable of processing up to 185 wings per minute on a processing line or as a standalone application. The Wing Segmenter properly orients the wing at various line speeds for accuracy on each individual cut. The shackle transfer eliminates misfeeds. Processors can cut tips, flats and drummettes at one location. The CWCS-8400 is capable of handling varying sizes of wings.

When run in cone line operations, the only person who touches the wing is the employee who cuts it off the bird. This is a labor savings for processors. When configured with a cone line, the track and shackles run in front of the employee who hangs the wings in the shackle. The shackle line is routed overhead to the cutting head of the machine, which solves the problem of transporting the wings away from the cone line.

In an offline situation, Cantrell’s wing system can be loaded on both sides and configured with a cutting wheel on each end, making it possible to double the cutting capacity to 340 wings per minute.

The Segmenter is designed to allow adjustments during operation and easy access for blade replacement. The CWCS-8400 is energy efficient and the open design makes for easy cleaning.

For more information, please contact Cantrell at 800-922-1232, 770-536-3611, or visit the website at www.cantrell.com.
Published in New Technology
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.
Published in New Technology
July 14, 2017, Huron County, Ont. – Lukas Schilder is a chicken farmer in Huron County with centuries of farming in his bloodline. Like others in the agriculture sector, he is keenly aware of the advantages that adopting new technology brings to his business. Looking to invest in a new chicken barn, Schilder and his family recognize an opportunity to connect their farm operations with the expectations of consumers and grow their brand.

Guided by a sector-wide commitment to animal welfare, Schilder is planning to equip a new free-range facility with cutting-edge technology designed to monitor and broadcast information about the state of his flock to stakeholders.

Some of the technology being considered involves a live 24/7 public video feed to demonstrate the care and treatment his chickens receive.

“We stay engaged with industry best-practices both in North America and Europe and operations all over the world are adopting new technology to meet marketplace demands, which include consumer information about the realities of growing food,” said Schilder. “Our farm needs access to high-speed internet to be competitive.”

In April, Huron County Council partnered with Comcentric – a co-operative of local internet service providers – to submit a funding proposal to the Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate program. The project proposes to connect 98 per cent of Huron County’s population, including the Schilder farm, with high-speed fibre within three years.

Expected to cost $31.5 million, the project requires a partnership with the Government of Canada to proceed. To leverage an investment by the federal government, Huron County Council has committed $7 million over seven years. READ MORE 
Published in Farm Business

July 7, 2017 - Given the high value of chicken breast meat in many markets, poultry processors need to ensure that any factors that may reduce product quality are thoroughly addressed.

Issues affecting breast meat quality can arise pre-slaughter and during processing, and there are several key areas that need to be properly functioning if losses are to be minimized.

Extreme temperatures during transport and while waiting at the plant pre-slaughter can result in dehydration and other metabolic conditions, affecting the health and survival rate of birds, and also meat quality. READ MORE 

Published in Processing
May 31, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - Access the new Food Safety and Traceability eLearning courses online on the Agriculture and Food Education in Ontario online learning system through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.

The new Traceability eLearning courses show how good practices can:
• Maximize productivity, improve business efficiency, reduce costs and improve business processes
• Be used to increase competitive advantage by accessing new markets
• Improve supply chain management

The new Food Safety eLearning courses will help you to:
• Identify food safety hazards that can occur in your operation
• Understand best practices and develop programs to control these hazards
• Decrease the likelihood of food safety hazards that can lead to a foodborne illness outbreak or product recall

Visit the University of Guelph website to register for a free account. Accessible versions of the courses are available. For more information, contact the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 519-674-1500 ext. 63295.

Online course development was funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector.
Published in Production
May 30, 2017 - Steve Parsons has been a part of the chicken industry throughout his entire life, and his company, Greengage Lighting Ltd, is using LED systems to help poultry and swine farmers further improve the efficiency and productivity of their operations.

Parsons sat down with Jamie Johansen during ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, where he gave a presentation on his company through his participation in the Pearse Lyons Accelerator Program.

Greengage supplies an induction-powered system that makes LED lights and sensors for poultry and swine.

It uses patented inductive technology, a magnetic conductive system that converts energy into LED lights on a wave spectrum that has been aligned to the requirements of a chicken. READ MORE
Published in New Technology
May 2, 2017, Kitchner, Ont. - With several partners, Hendrix Genetics is investigating possibilities to use blockchain in the egg value-chain. Blockchain is a new technology that has the potential to make processes more democratic, secure, transparent, and efficient.

What is blockchain? Blockchain is in essence a public decentralized 'ledger'. All transactions are stored in a shared database and everything is verifiable and traceable. Nobody owns the database, all participants share it. Blockchains are secure by design.

With participation of several companies, Hendrix has defined its first blockchain project. They will build and test a system for international payments and deliveries in the egg value chain with the objective to replace the current Letter of Credit system. Hendrix is working on a proof of concept to investigate and learn the possibilities and limitations of blockchain technology for the animal protein value chains in which they are involved in.

For more information, visit https://www.hendrix-genetics.com/news/hendrix-genetics-innovates-blockchain/?platform=hootsuite

Published in Company News
In January, new broiler producer Brent Pryce welcomed more than 20,000 birds (14,000 quota) into his brand new barn in Walton, Ont.

“I grew up on a farm, with my grandfather starting with dairy and then cash crops and some pork and beef, and always wanted to get into farming,” Pryce says. “I worked towards this through starting up a few different businesses like road dust control, a rental business, vehicle undercoating, and then decided last summer to take the plunge to buy quota and build a barn.”

Construction started in September 2016 and finished in December 2016.

“Our sons, Russell and Clinton, are the reason Catherine and I did it, so that they can have a future in farming if they want it,” Pryce adds. “We’re starting with the goal of producing 2.2 kilogram birds, with four kilograms as the ultimate goal.”

Pryce chose a cross-ventilation barn design with a heating system that’s brand new to North America – one he’s seen working well in other barns he’s visited. Pryce also believes it will help save on heating bills and electricity, which is quite costly in Ontario, and provide excellent humidity control.

Weeden Environments was a main contractor for the project. Nathan Conley, the firm’s manager for Ontario and the northern United States, says the cross-ventilation design offers a lower building cost than longer and narrower tunnel barns. “Many of Brent’s neighbours and friends are very happy with their cross-ventilated buildings,” he says. “We recommended that two sides have modular side wall air inlets for consistent control over incoming air during minimum ventilation. The air from both sides travels up and along the ceiling [the warmest part of the barn] and therefore it’s conditioned before it reaches the birds and the litter. We then use stir fans to produce consistent temperatures throughout.”

Conley says when warmer weather arrives, a continuous double baffle inlet on one side of the barn will be employed; this set-up creates the same amount of wind chill over the birds as continuous baffle on both sides of the barn. Val-Co HyperMax exhaust fans were chosen for the barn, which Conley says are high-performing and very energy efficient.

A first in North America, the barn’s forced air propane heating and humidity control system is provided by Mabre. Mike Neutel, CEO of Neu Air Systems in Woodstock, Ont., says the systems are used all over the world. The set-up includes two 600,000 Btu Mabre propane furnaces with Reillo burners.

“In poultry barns, typical heating systems are tube heaters and box forced air heaters,” Neutel says. “Some growers have these heaters vented to the outdoors and some vent the products of combustion in the barn.”

He notes the contaminants contained in this air are very harmful to birds, and the exhaust also contains tons of moisture – 0.82 litres of water for every litre of liquid propane burned, and 0.65 litres of water for every litre of liquid natural gas.

Mabre heating systems exit exhaust through chimneys while maintaining a high efficiency of 92 per cent, Neutel notes, while the forced air blowers provide excellent air circulation, which is key in maintaining proper humidity levels. A very even temperature, often within a degree throughout the entire barn, is achieved, but no draft is created. Return air going back to the furnace incorporates fresh outside air through a louver, while heating and mixing this air through an exchanger.



All of this, Neutel says, was important to Pryce. “[He] also commented during his decision process that the low ammonia levels will make it a safe environment for his children to manage the barn when they get older without having to worry about farmer lung,” Neutel adds. Mabre systems maintain humidity between 50 and 60 per cent, even with outside humidity levels of 90 per cent, which Neutel says keeps ammonia levels very low.

Mabre is available with natural gas, propane, wood pellet and wood chip options. More than 200 wood pellet systems have been installed in Quebec poultry barns.

In terms of how popular the cross-ventilation systems will become, Conley notes that in Ontario, producers are moving away from two and three-story barns for easier cleaning and to incorporate modular loading systems. “In the U.S., longer tunnel-ventilated barns are the norm, because the barns are larger and the temperatures higher,” he explains. “With this design – used there and around the world – the barn operates the same as a cross-ventilated barn, where air is brought in via sidewall inlets and exhausted out the sidewalls, but when hotter weather arrives, we gradually transition into tunnel to generate air speed down the length of the barn to create wind chill over the birds to cool them. I think that you’ll begin to see a trend of tunnel-ventilated buildings popping up over the next few years as we continue to see hotter, longer summers and the need to control heat stress becomes greater.”

In late January, Pryce reported in on barn performance and his first flock, which had arrived three weeks prior. “So far, I’m really happy with the heat unit and the environment in there is great. Right now is when you see things start to slide a bit, but it’s the same as the first few days the chickens came in. Usually you don’t really take young kids in a barn, but I’m pretty comfortable with taking my young kids in. The carbon dioxide and humidity levels are bang on.”
Published in New Technology
October 3, 2016 - Aches and pains are common afflictions of everyday life. Stiff knees, sore feet and back pain are all too common. Back injuries can be chronic (long-term) or short-term and can affect everyone at some point in their life. Back pain, especially lower back pain is a common work-related issue that affects many farmers from farms both small and large.

Back pain can be caused by many factors and can affect anyone, young or old. Farmers are especially at risk because work done on the farm can include activities that are factors for developing back pain. Some risk factors for developing back pain include:
  • Lifting objects heavier than 25 pounds or repeatedly lifting lighter objects,
  • Awkward body posture while working
  • Driving farm equipment for long periods of time that cause your whole body to vibrate,
  • Slips and fall
Most lower back pain caused by overexertion is short-lived and usually resolves on its own. However, having back pain for any amount of time can be a real problem. If severe enough, back pain can lead to a hard time walking or sitting, let alone doing any farm work!

What can be done to help reduce the risk of having back pain? There are some easy steps to remember to help reduce the likelihood of spending the next few days in pain.

Start by recognizing high-risk activities. Are you spending an extraordinary amount of time in equipment? Are you lifting awkward or heavy loads? Is there a tripping hazard that could lead to a fall? Once you realize that there could be a potential for creating back pain, take some steps to help yourself.
  • Avoid prolonged, repetitive tasks (ask somebody to help out and take turns)
  • Practice good lifting hygiene (use your legs)
  • Alternate between heavy and light work tasks
  • Take frequent rest breaks
  • Before starting a task, consider how it could be done differently.
  • Address tripping hazards
There are also things that you can do to strengthen your body against the suffering of back pain. Don’t wait until you are in severe pain to start! Exercising, strengthening your core, stretching and eating well can not only safeguard against back injury, it can also lead to optimal health.  

If you’re back pain doesn’t resolve itself or is unbearable, seek the advice of a doctor or other medical professional. Don’t ignore the pain and hope it goes away. Medical treatment and rehabilitation may enable you to continue working and functioning. By addressing the issue, you could prevent further pain.

For more information about farm safety, visit the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association website at www.casa-acsa.ca.
Published in Business & Policy

 The story behind the Ontario Fuel Safety Program Advisory

Have you gotten a notice about unvented heaters in your poultry barns and wondered what it meant?

Dan Ward is an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) engineer out of the Stratford, Ont. office. Because of what he called a “random” inspection at a job site, Ward says flags were raised about how the unvented heating systems were being operated in barns.

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) is a private company delegated by the province of Ontario to enforce Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code. One day in 2011 a TSSA inspector happened to drop by a jobsite for an impromptu visit but was allowed look around a turkey barn under construction where unvented gas heating equipment was being installed.  A few deficiencies with the equipment and the installation were identified that needed to be addressed to bring them into compliance with Gas Code or the inspector could shut off the gas to
the barn.

The farmer was irate, said Ward. He had birds coming in; there were timelines, but four months later he was still trying to negotiate a solution. What’s wrong with my heaters, he was asking? He had three types of unvented heaters in his various barns and these were the same type of heaters commonly used in the Ontario poultry industry, so why were they not good enough now?

It turns out his question opened a can of worms.

But first, a bit of background: the Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code CSA-B149.1 is the technical document describing requirements for the safe installation and operation of gas appliances. It’s a national document that is adapted by each province and addresses details like the separation distance between a heating appliance and combustibles, the venting of the products of combustion, gas shutoffs, etc. Only approved appliances - those bearing the required certification sticker from the Canadian Standards Authority (CSA) or Underwriter Laboratories of Canada  (ULC) - may be installed under the Gas Code.  

The code also states that unvented infrared heaters shall be provided with mechanical ventilation to remove the products of combustion outdoors, primarily CO2 and water vapour, with a ventilation volume of at least 300 cfm per 100,000 Btuh of heater capacity. The ventilation system also needs to be interlocked with the heater(s) so that the heater(s) automatically shuts off or won’t start unless the fan is running.

Where it is not possible to interlock heaters, section 7.22.2 describes the use of a carbon dioxide detector equipped with an audible and visual alarm. While Ward says this is possible, in his experience it is neither common nor necessarily reliable inside the challenging barn environment.  

When located in a large and adequately ventilated space, section 8.24.5 states that an appliance may be operated by discharging the combustion products directly into the space, subject to the approval of the authority having jurisdiction (this is the TSSA in Ontario) and provided the maximum input of the appliance does not exceed 20 Btuh/cubic foot of the space in which the appliance is located. This clause attempts to put an upper limit of the size of the heater for the space.

There are three types of unvented heating appliances commonly used in poultry barns and none are interlocked with the ventilation system as per the code requirements. The unvented infrared brooder heater does not vent outdoors and is common in poultry barns. The direct-fired box heater, common in both poultry and swine barns, draws air for combustion from either inside or outside the building and discharges all products of combustion into the barn. The stationary infrared tube heater pulls air for combustion from outdoors and could be vented outside but many are not.

The 2011 site visit incident uncovered several unvented heater infractions. The first problem was that there was no mandatory interlock between heaters and ventilation fans. The second issue was that the minimum ventilation rate would not be met during the initial brooding period due to ventilation settings. Some of the heaters were also missing the proper certification stickers.

A meeting was held with the TSSA to discuss a number of possible solutions to the unvented heater issue for this farmer and the agriculture industry as a whole since it was estimated there could be up to 2,000 barns with this type of equipment in Ontario, mostly for poultry and swine.

The first solution to be brought forward was to vent all heaters outside the barn, which would work for radiant tube heaters but not the box heater or pancake-style brooder heaters, which meant that these would have to be replaced.

A second solution would be to continue to use unvented heaters but that would require each farm to undertake a costly paperwork process to apply for a variance from the TSSA.

A third solution was to actually seek changes to the Gas Code for unvented heaters in livestock and poultry barns. Similar exemptions have been made for the greenhouse industry in the past to allow the use of carbon dioxide generators inside these structures with specific operating requirements.

The focus was on the third solution – an amendment to specifically address the use of unvented heaters inside livestock and poultry barns. Ward says that five commodity groups (Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg & Chick Commission, Ontario Pork and Turkey Farmers of Ontario) came together to hire David Stainrod, a private Gas Code expert, to draft a Gas Code amendment. This document was presented in May 2014 to the Ontario technical committee for review and then taken to the National Gas Code Review committee meeting in Calgary in June 2014.

The amendment was well received at the Ontario technical group, where most discussions are usually around residential applications of the Gas Code, not agricultural. But nationally, the support wasn’t there for the adoption of the amendment. “It put us in a bit of a lurch,” said Ward. On the provincial level though the TSSA was in agreement, they proposed to add the amendment to the Code Adoption Document each province uses to implement the latest version of the National Gas Code.

On Aug. 25, 2014 the TSSA issued a Fuel Safety Program Advisory (FS-212-14) that outlines specific requirements for the use of unvented natural gas or propane heaters in livestock and poultry barns. The requirements came into effect for new heater installations as of Oct. 1, 2014; existing barns have until Jan. 1, 2016 to comply with the new requirements. This is a notice that farmers would likely have received from their commodity boards, said Ward.

If you have an unvented heater, TSSA basically wants third party verification by a licensed Ontario engineer to sign off on barn ventilation system design. Two calculations are required to be posted in a prominent place at the entrance to each barn:

  1. Minimum ventilation rate of the barn (mechanical or natural ventilation) when the heaters are operating is not less than 300 CFM/100,000 BTUH (0.003 CFM/BTUH) of heaters input (clause 7.36.1c)
  2. Maximum input of the heating appliances does not exceed 20 BTUH/ft3 of the space in which the appliance is located (clause 7.36.1d)

These calculations will continue to be valid as long as no equipment changes are made to the ventilation system, said Ward, and will affect any barn with unvented heaters.

If farmer hires an engineer to verify the ventilation system as per amendment 7.36.1 for an unvented heater then the farmer is exempt from the requirement of having the mandatory interlock.

The TSSA does have the authority to enter private property to inspect if a safety issue with the gas equipment is suspected, but it is more likely that farmers will be asked by a licensed gas mechanic who may be installing or servicing gas equipment or the fuel supplier to provide the signed calculation sheet for each barn.

The specified ventilation rates are not hard to meet, said Ward, since the minimum ventilation rates to control humidity levels is usually higher than the above rate. The exception maybe in the first day or two of brooding in broiler or turkey barns but this can be addressed by increasing the ventilation rates.

Your other options are to vent your heaters outside if you are using radiant tube style heaters, or hook up a CO2 sensor to your ventilation system.

And what about the farmer at the core of all of this? He was granted a two-year variance to continue operating his barns, said Ward, while an industry solution was developed. He now has the same options as everybody else if he wants to continue to use unvented heaters in his existing barns after Jan.1, 2016.

 

 

 

Published in Emerging Trends

 

Efficiency motives Earl Martin. And in his drive to create efficiencies on his beef and poultry farm, he credits his most recent enterprise — installing an on-farm anaerobic biodigester.

Martin first considered installing the biodigester, an innovative approach to solving a problem, as a solution to an on-farm disposal issue. Farming with his two sons, Martin also owns and operates a provincial poultry processing plant, ENS Poultry, outside of Elora, Ont. Since the outbreak of BSE in 2003, costs of disposing offal — or unwanted chicken organs — have skyrocketed, so developing the on-farm biodigester was Martin’s solution to eliminating the expense and recycling the offal. The biodigester also heats the poultry plant, two houses on the farm and generates a profitable revenue stream from hydro.

“It’s a great idea – we take waste products and make a more valuable product,” says Martin, who feeds the biodigester system with poultry offal, cattle manure, waste water from the poultry plant and, based on availability, additional waste products from food manufacturers.

With the ability to generate 100kW of continuous electrical capacity, Martin has been selling power generated from his 500 cubic metre biodigester to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) for almost three years. He sells the electricity to the OPA and buys back hydro for his own use. “We make a few pennies off every kW we sell,” he says, explaining that despite the additional benefits of the digester, he relies on the hydro revenue stream to pay for the system. Martin expects to have his digester paid off in 10 years, and faster if the system was operating at maximum capacity. The biodigester has only been running an average of 68-70 kW since set up, something that concerns Martin.

Feeding the animal
“Originally, I wanted to get rid of my hydro bill,” says Martin, listing the opportunities of installing an on-farm biodigester. But his expectations of the system grew when he realized how much work it takes to run the boidigester efficiently. Biodigesters need a delicate balance of contents for the bacteria to digest, or break down the products efficiently, creating methane gas. A genset (generator and motor combination) connected to the biodigester converts the methane gas into hydro. Methane gas runs the motor while the generator produces hydro, creating excess heat in the process.

The hydro is sold to the OPA and Martin uses water pipes to carry the heat from the genset system to heat two homes and the farm’s poultry plant. “Feeding the digester is like feeding cattle, it needs a balanced, low-protein diet,” he says. “The difference is cattle will quit eating when they’re full, but the digester never stops, even when it can’t digest something properly, making it sick.”

Martin’s biodigester is “fed” on-farm waste, a mixture that keeps the bacteria healthy and can be easily broken down to produce the desirable gas. Adding additional feed, like natural sugars, can give the bacteria a boost, increasing efficiency and maximizing output. Martin’s biggest headache is sourcing off-farm products to boost the bacteria activity and increase gas and hydro production. Byproducts from food processors are ideal additives to feed the biodigester, but according to Martin, are currently in limited supply.

Without the right balance, or content mixture, the biodigester loses efficiency or kills the bacteria. The vital bacteria can die within 24 hours and take up to 10 days to grow back, resulting in significant downtime and production loss.

On-farm applications
“It’s hard for someone to tell you how to run a biodigester, you have to get a feel for it,” says Martin, explaining that, despite, or because of his challenges keeping the biodigester healthy and fed properly, he’s developed a “feel” for the system. Intuition has become part of Martin’s management skills. Even the texture is important, he explains, because, while the consistency doesn’t yield additional gas, keeping the contents of the biodigester flowable is part of an efficient system. Martin uses wash water from the poultry plant to maintain a desirable consistency of the system’s contents, and is pleased with the efficiency of recycling the water into a new product.

The consistency helps produce another benefit, or byproduct, of the biodigester — digestate. Martin’s biodigester produces, on average, 24 cubic metres of digestate daily. A liquid byproduct, the digestate is high in ammonium-nitrate and used as a valuable fertilizer source on Martin’s 400 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. “But it’s still important to take soil samples to check the nutrient value of the digestate,” notes Martin. Digestate hasn’t replaced Martin’s purchase of field crop fertilizer completely, but it has helped reduce input costs.

The popularity of biodigesters is growing throughout Ontario. Innovation and efficiency are developing practical on-farm systems like Martin’s biodigester, and the compounded benefits are proving farmers have a lot to gain. In Martin’s case, he needed to find a way to dispose of a waste product and cut his hydro bill. In addition to achieving his initial needs, he’s been able to eliminate his home and on-farm heating bills, produce his own field crop fertilizer and generate a new revenue stream selling hydro. Martin admits it’s a lot of work, but the pay offs continue adding up.


This article is one in a series produced by Farm & Food Care Ontario.

 

 

 

Published in New Technology

 

Regardless of the season and climate, the same factors come into effect when trying to maintain target conditions in poultry barns. Depending on whether your barn is in British Columbia, Ontario, or another country, these factors can figure much differently into your ventilation calculations. Temperature, humidity, and air movement are the three that we’re talking about, and it would be huge progress if we had a climate controller that would truly take all three into consideration to keep conditions ideal. Climate controllers should focus on this in the coming years, taking us into the future of agricultural ventilation.

We hear meteorologists talk about “real feel” temperatures — humidex, or heat index — as well as wind chill in the cooler months. If we think about the inside of a barn as a kind of micro- weather system, we can really see how it impacts the comfort of the birds. For any of us that have spent any time in any of the Gulf States in the U.S. (or the wrong July day in Ontario), even if the temperatures are relatively comfortable — say around 25°C / 77°F — it can feel pretty oppressive when combined with 80 per cent humidity, or even higher as a storm is rolling in. Alternatively, especially in the Western provinces in winter, wind can make the already sub-zero temperatures unbearable, and a little moisture combined with 5°C chills to the bone. I’ve never been colder than the day I was caught riding my motorcycle home in the rain and a temperature drop from 20° C to 8°C.

Combination effects
With the importance of humidity, wind chill, and temperature established, what do we need to do? When it comes to poultry, we know that when the combination of temperature and humidity added together in the barn approaches 160, we are in the danger zone for heat related mortality. Our first line of defense is air exchange — just get the hot air out so the birds can continue to release the BTUs of heat they are generating into the cooler air, and move the moisture they pant (their version of sweating) away. The second is to get that air moving over the birds at a velocity that adds a wind chilling effect to it. In some cases this effect can be 15°F. Our last line of defense is to utilize water to cool even further.

I’ve talked before about a side effect of cooling by evaporative cooling pads or fogging / misting, and the respected ventilation expert; Mike Czarick, has talked about the same problem in his summer ventilation schools. When adding water to the air to reduce the temperature, humidity increases 2.5 per cent for every degree F. The problem here is that a 2.5 per cent humidity increase results in a 0.5 F perceived temperature increase, so we lose half of the ground we seem to gain (this is another case for using the combined calculation to give a true temperature). It would be better to increase air speed, and directly apply water to the birds using a sprinkler system to multiply the wind chill effect and keep humidity 20 per cent lower, according to Yi Liang of the University of Arkansas. I think this sprinkling effect could be incorporated into control systems calculations of wind chill.

So, back to the point, our problem with maintaining ideal conditions is that we are guessing at the actual effect of the changes we are making. OK, it’s clear that reducing the temperature is pretty straightforward, but without knowing the humidity levels, we still have to observe the birds on a hot day to see if they are panting too much or being too inactive, or consuming less feed to tell for sure what that temperature really means. In setting up ventilation and controls, I’ve seen many times where producers didn’t realize that wind chill was too high as well, with young birds huddling, or older birds sitting down due to high tunnel wind speed, leading to breast blister and button problems or hock burn. A controller system that factors these issues in would allow more peace of mind on hot days, especially for farmers who have off farm jobs, are busy cropping, or are managing multiple farms. On cold days, piling that can occur quickly if birds are chilled could also be prevented with a few strategically placed anemometers (wind meters) linked to the controller.

Estimating Variables
With anemometers, humidity sensors, and temperature sensors working in concert to provide continuous feedback, creating a logarithm to take temperature + humidity – wind chill effect should be an achievable goal that can be used to build a new type of target temperature curve ­— maybe we call it the wintempumidity curve? Whatever it is, I think it could be a great way to estimate they interaction of all the variables, and create the optimum growing conditions, allowing us to manage the climate without having to do daily tweaks to our ventilation program. If we could establish that, for example, 80 F + 60 per cent humidity - 15 F wind chill at 600 feet / min - 10 F sprinkler effect = 75 F true temperature (this is not necessarily correct, just a potential example), and we can establish a range of acceptable values for our target curve, this could be an excellent way to know how comfortable our birds really are. The controller could adjust all the variables to reach the target if it knows this “true temperature.”

In a perfect world, we’d have a controller that would take the heat index (temperature and humidity), and the effect of wind chill heat loss into its calculations of perceived temperature, and ventilate / heat / cool based on a combination of all of these. It would involve some complex calculations, and a hefty processor, but I think it can be done, and done affordably enough for producers to justify purchasing a system. It just may the next step in the evolution of poultry barn climate control.

 

 

Published in Trade

Jan. 9, 2014, Ottawa, ON - Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) is starting off the New Year highlighting a new environmental partnership with Bullfrog Power to reduce their emissions footprint.

This partnership is the latest action to be implemented under EFC's Office Green Initiative that aims to reduce the company's environmental impact. By choosing clean, pollution-free energy with Bullfrog Power for its Ottawa office, Egg Farmers of Canada is taking another step to support renewable generation sources while helping to create a cleaner world for the generations to come.

"Being environmentally responsible is a priority at Egg Farmers of Canada and we have a number of different initiatives that help us adapt our behaviours and habits at the office," said Tim Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of EFC. "This new partnership gives us the opportunity to do more and show leadership in this area."

From now on, Bullfrog Power's generators will put 100 per cent green electricity and 100 per cent green natural gas onto the respective energy system to match the amount of electricity and natural gas the EFC office uses.

In the past years, Egg Farmers of Canada has committed through its Office Green Initiative to reduce the amount of paper used daily by opting for online documents instead. The organization also offers filtered tap water, battery recycling programs and uses environmentally friendly cleaning products, among other things.

"The Office Green Initiative goal is to increase environmental awareness within our office, and wherever possible we have taken steps to reduce our environmental impact," added Tim Lambert.

Through this partnership, EFC is supporting the development of Canada's renewable energy sector.

For more details about the Office Green initiative, please visit www.eggfarmers.ca.

Published in New Technology

In a cold-climate country like Canada, keeping your poultry barn heated is essential, not only to your flock, but also to all the other systems involved in keeping your birds happy and healthy. However, heating your barn can also be very expensive, especially when chicks are first placed in the large area and don’t quite utilize all the space that is available to them.

The Smart Air Wall, developed by the European company Sidijk (www.sidijk.com), can reduce overall heating costs associated with your barn by using an inflatable barrier to temporarily reduce square-footage. This can help lessen not only energy costs, but also the time and effort spent cleaning and walking the barn.

The wall is made of the same plastic used for children’s inflatable bouncing castles in parks and playgrounds, but simply takes a different shape. Sidijk is so reputable in the inflatable plastics business that the company has been retained to install the safety air rails for speed skating in Sochi, Russia, for the upcoming Olympic Games, according to Dave Loerchner, a sales representative for Smart Air Wall.

Loerchner spoke at a Poultry Industry Council event late last year about the possible benefits of the Smart Air Wall system for poultry producers. He began by saying that the wall is simply designed to minimize the amount of barn floor space needed for the chicks, thereby limiting the amount of heat and light needed to operate the whole barn.

“The whole idea of this is to condense your barn for approximately the first two weeks of your flock, when you are usually heating the whole barn to keep the chicks on the floor warm,” he said. “If you move them all up to the front 40 to 50 per cent of your barn . . .  it reduces your heating costs by up to 50 to 60 per cent, but will vary slightly from barn to barn.”

The double-lined plastic wall uses a standard 1.1-kilowatt fan on 220 volts to fill it with air, which acts as insulation between the two separated parts of the barn. And because it is plastic, Loerchner adds, it will fit perfectly along the floor and ceiling to make sure that no air (or errant chicks) will get through. In addition, there are flexible holes for feed and water lines that can be adjusted with no risk of air escaping.

While the initial cost can be high, he says that thanks to the cost savings on the heating bill, the Smart Air Wall can pay for itself within a few years.

There are a total of five barns currently using the system: three in Holland, one in Germany and one in Ontario.

Jon Steenbeek, who owns and operates the only Smart Air Wall system in Canada at his Ontario farm just south of Varna, has been using it since his first flock was placed in early 2012. According to Loerchner, Steenbeek used 42,081 litres of propane to heat his barn in one year.

But, with the Smart Air Wall system, Steenbeek only used 18,588 – a savings of almost 60 per cent – or over $10,000, based on a propane price of $0.45 per litre.

“That’s pretty significant dollar savings for only having the wall up for the first two weeks of the flock,” he says.

Published in New Technology

This month is an ideal time to talk about managing the heating of chicken and turkey barns, although we really should have been thinking about our heating systems before the coldest time of the year was almost at hand. Many of you may already have updated your heating systems to the latest technologies, but there are others who are still using older ceramic heaters or forced-air furnaces. This article will explain some newer concepts in order to clarify and explain the ways new heaters can improve production and reduce costs.


We need our heating system to be able to maintain a steady temperature of 90-95 C on the coldest days of the year at the floor level without a lot of variation in buildings where bird brooding will be done. Obviously, we have more flexibility in turkey finisher barns or breeder and egg layer buildings that will only ever have large or adult birds in them, but many of the same concepts will carry over as well.  

Radiant Heating Concept
Whatever you do, be sure to get some infrared heaters, and preferably, infrared tube heaters. Instead of trying to heat the air and blow it around the building, radiant heaters work by, directly exposing a metal surface to a flame to reach temperatures of up to 1100 F.  This results in infrared radiation emission, which can pass through air and only releases heat when absorbed by objects or the floor. A reflector is also installed on the top-side of the tube to send all the infrared radiation toward the floor and away from the ceiling. The effect is exactly the same as if the sun were shining into a vehicle, heating up the interior as the energy is absorbed and released as heat and eventually causing the entire vehicle to rise in temperature.


This is a great way to warm a barn because when forced air or other non-radiant methods of heating are used, a large amount of air has to be heated before the floor of the building begins to be heated. Because hot air rises, the hottest air will always be at the ceiling, and, in turn, the coolest air will always fall to the floor.  The end result is that the entire barn needs to be heated before the birds feel any of this heat. Not only that, but the exhaust fans will always be pulling the warmer air out, further exasperating the problem.  


How do infrared tube heaters fix this?  


Because the heat originates from the floor, with the hottest air at or just above the bird level, set temperatures can be slightly lower as. Additionally, the cool incoming air rolls across the ceiling and descends into the hot air, infusing it with oxygen without causing a measurable temperature drop. Utilizing a tube heater will also generate a uniform floor heat signature, even along the length of the heater. In chicken barns, a straight tube heater is usually adequate with only a slight variation in floor temperatures from end to end of about 10-15 F over 40 feet. In a turkey brooding barn, a U-tube should be used because the temperature variation from end to end of the heater can be further reduced to as little as 1-3 F.  

In general, a 30-foot U-tube application is about the longest that should be installed, as the flame length is not long or intense enough to reach the end of a longer tube. But, there are some newer heater styles, such as bidirectional centre-fired units and heaters that use two layer tubes to reduce heat transfer in what would usually be the hottest portion of the tube, and metal baffles to increase heat exposure on the end of the tube that would usually be the coolest.

A steady temperature at bird level isn’t the only benefit, as litter conditions are also improved when using infrared tubes.

Because the litter is the first thing being heated by the floor, the moisture evaporates and subsequently improves the quality of the litter, which makes for better birds.  

Another benefit of using infrared tubes over stoves or forced-air heaters is that the oxygen from inside the building is not consumed to produce the flame. Fresh-air intakes are installed, pulling air from the outside of the building or from the attic. The intakes differ from other heaters, which require inside air to be combusted. Thus with the infrared tubes, less ventilation is required to keep oxygen levels high.

Cost savings
Here is where the differences really show: fuel savings. According to the website of Easy Radiant Works, a Canadian infrared heater company: “When conventional forced warm air heaters are replaced with infra-red heaters it is commonplace to achieve fuel savings of 30 per cent - 50 per cent. The New York State Inter-Departmental Fuel and Energy Committee have claimed fuel savings as high as 50 per cent since switching to Radiant Tube Heating. Fuel savings of greater than 50 per cent are not uncommon.”


That’s a pretty convincing argument to make the change, even without the other benefits: Preheating of the barn can be accomplished in a few hours instead of one to two days; bottom-up heating and settings can be reduced by a degree or two. Just sit down and calculate how much you spent over the last couple of years on gas. How quickly could you pay for new heaters and then start profiting from these savings?  


Most companies say that payback can be attained in as little as two to three years on an infrared heater, an item that can typically last up to 20 years. Not bad.

bibliography
http://www.patioheating.com/qa.htm, 2012


Shawn Conley is with Weeden Environments in sales and technical service, internationally and in Canada. He manages projects with many U.S. poultry companies and works frequently with researchers in the industry. Management in pharmaceuticals, a degree in cell and molecular biology and some NCAA and professional basketball preceded his six years working in the poultry equipment and feed-additive industry. Being a former Ontario farm kid, his motivation is to help producers build a strong Canadian poultry industry. He can be reached by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Published in New Technology

Like other Canadian industries, the agricultural sector is increasingly focused on adopting “green” practices and technologies to create a more sustainable business environment. However, turning an entire operation into an efficient, productive, environmentally friendly machine involves a significant amount of time, capital and expertise. 

Now, researchers at the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering have embarked on an ambitious project that could help many farmers “go green” without breaking the bank.

Partnering with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Poultry Industry Council, Prof. Bill Van Heyst, along with graduate students Stephanie Shaw and Dan Roth, are creating a free computer program they call a Complimentary Energy Decision Support Tool (CEDST) to aid farmers in making more environmentally sound decisions.

More specifically, the software’s goal is to provide easy, immediate access to knowledge about sustainable technologies that are available to farmers, the associated costs, and what technology is best suited to each individual operation.

“We want this program to allow farmers to better direct their capital towards more beneficial green investments, and encourage others to actively pursue environmentally friendly projects,” says Shaw. “A free, one-stop educational tool for this kind of thing will definitely help.”

CEDST works as a multi-fold calculator. By entering information such as location, the size and type of structures present, and what commodities are being farmed, CEDST compiles potential projects designed to green up the operation. It then provides a list of potential costs associated with those options, as well as the prospective amount the farmer might save by investing in them.

For example, whether producers want to generate their own power via a windmill or solar panels, or simply save a little on heating through better insulation, they can easily compare the price tag, return on investment period and eventual cheque size of all possible options.

In its calculations, CEDST takes into account factors such as current material costs, installation and availability of government support for the technology in question.

Ideally, CEDST could also be marketed as a tool for use by non-farmers. The same principles that apply to agriculture for green technology can be applied to other industries as well, and potentially, even homeowners.

“Although the program is being designed specifically with farmers in mind, it could easily be adopted by other groups as a means to save money and the environment,” says Shaw. “After all, farmers are not the only ones who could stand to benefit from going green.”


Matt McIntosh is a student writer with the Students Promoting Academic Research Knowledge (SPARK) program at the University of Guelph

Published in New Technology

As energy costs continue to rise and the ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs looms (occurring in 2012), alternative light sources are quickly being adopted by the poultry industry. However, chickens see light differently than we do. Thus the spectrum of light emitted from these new sources must be considered, as it can have an impact the reproductive efficiency and behaviour of chickens. 

A lighting option that is quickly gaining popularity is the light emitting diode (LED). Dr. Gregoy Bedecarrats, a professor with the department of animal and poultry science at the University of Guelph, has done some initial studies on LED lighting in laying hens, and found that the spectrum of light emitted may slow or delay the reproductive efficiency of layers. He presented his results at the Poultry Industry Council’s Research Day this past spring.

Chickens and light
Chickens don’t just “see” light. They can absorb light through the retinas in their eyes in ways that humans do not, and they can also sense light through their pineal gland and hypothalamus, which are located on top of and within the brain, respectively.  Consequently, chickens can “see”  a greater range of light wavelengths than we can. 

To activate the receptors in the pineal gland, light needs to penetrate the skull and for the hypothalamus, light needs to penetrate even deeper.

Retinal stimulation impacts behaviour, pineal stimulation affects circadian rhythm and hypothalamus stimulation affects reproduction and homeostasis.

The pineal gland works like a clock to “set” the rhythms between light and dark. For example, if the light-dark cycle is constant, a rooster will crow at the same time every day. But if the light cycle is changed, the rooster will adapt and change the time it crows.

Meanwhile, the hypothalamus is connected to all main physiological functions such as reproduction and feeding. To stimulate the hypothalamus the light has to be powerful enough to penetrate deep, and the red spectrum is powerful enough to do this, says Bedecarrats.

This is important to the poultry farmer because the type of lights may affect the wavelengths emitted and stimulate different areas of the chicken.

For example, green light slows the birds’ maturation and, while red light has been shown to be needed for sexual maturity, it also may be tied to hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour.

The Study
In the study, an RGB (red, green, blue) LED system was installed for layer cages, and the effect of wavelength on growth and sexual maturation in blind and sighted Smoky Joe pullets was tested and measured. Smoky Joe hens are a strain of White Leghorn harbouring a recessive mutation causing retinal degeneration. By eight weeks of age, all affected animals are blind. Smoky Joe hens were used to further determine whether or not the retina is involved in mediating the effect of light wavelengths.

The experimental room was partitioned into three independent sections, each equipped with LED lights providing either pure green (G), red (R) or white (W) light. For all groups, intensity was adjusted to 10 lux at hens’ level. At 14 weeks of age, 20 pullets were randomly allocated to each section (G: 11 blind, nine sighted; R: 11 blind, nine sighted; W: 12 blind, eight sighted). During the first week, incandescent lighting was provided (10 lux, eight hours photoperiod) for pullets to adapt to their new environment. At 15 weeks of age, LED lights (G, R and W) were turned on for eight hours and at 20 weeks, pullets were photostimulated by an abrupt change to a 14-hour photoperiod. Feed and water were freely provided throughout the study.

During the study, body weight progressively increased with no difference observed between light treatments or between blind and sighted birds. Similarly, no difference in tibia length was observed, suggesting that, in cages, light wavelength did not impact feeding and body growth.

Age at first egg was significantly advanced for pullets from the red light (165.9±1.3 d) and white light (166.8±1.7 d) groups compared to birds under green light (188.4±2.2 d). However, although no difference in age at first egg was observed between R and W hens, levels of estradiol after photostimulation were the highest for the R birds, suggesting that activation of the ovary and recruitment of follicles was the strongest. Combs from R and W birds were significantly taller than for G birds, again showing advanced sexual maturation.

Overall egg production peaked first for the R group (25 weeks), followed by the W group (26 weeks), while it was not yet reached for the G group at 29 weeks. At 27 weeks of age, total egg production was greatest for the R group (662 eggs; 33.1±1.5 eggs/hen) followed by W group (586 eggs; 30.8±1.2 eggs/hen) and significantly lower for G group (242; 12.7±1.8 eggs/hen). No difference in corticosterone levels was observed between groups before and one week after lights were turned on. However, levels did slightly increase in the R birds after 44 days of exposure, suggesting that longtime exposure to pure red light may be stressful.

“The key message here is that the green really has an impact on reproduction,” says Bedecarrats. Red is required for sexual maturation.
If you have white light that has red within the spectrum, you’re fine. But if you’re lacking the red you’re going to have problems, he says.

In conclusion, although light wavelength did not influence growth of pullets in cages, red light is required for advancing sexual maturation and this effect does not require a functional retina. Using LED lights, the spectrum could be precisely adapted to promote faster sexual maturation and sustained egg production.

Lights are not created equal
Incandescent lights are inexpensive to buy but come with a short life span and because more than 90 per cent of the energy is used to heat a metal filament they use a lot of energy for the light they emit. They are, however, dimmable and instant on, and their spectral peak is in the red at 630 to 780 nanometres.

Fluorescent and compact fluorescent cost more to purchase, but are more energy efficient. The spectrum varies from green to orange, depending upon the fixture.

There are also growing concerns about disposal of fluorescent lights because they contain mercury. “The benefits of energy efficiency might be outpaced by the problem of disposal,” he says. 

High-pressure sodium lights are also an option. They are in the yellow to orange spectrum – closer to red – but take longer to warm up and may not be dimmable.

LED lights are still expensive but can create the light spectrum needed with no heat generation. They are instant on and dimmable. They also have great energy efficiency and a long life span.

What next?
The next step is to look at what happens on the floor, especially with broiler breeders, for example, with regard to hyperactivity. Something that might be really good in cages might not be good on the floor because of behavioural issues, he says.

What’s needed is to:

  • Test light wavelengths on birds maintained on floor (broiler breeders, turkey breeders, aviary systems);
  • Test if the positive effects from red light can be achieved by providing bursts (or short-term exposure) during the time of photostimulation;
  • Compare optimum LED protocol with other light sources currently used by the industry;
  • Test on “commercial strains” in a commercial environment. 
Published in Layers
Page 1 of 2

Subscription Centre

 
New Subscription
 
Already a Subscriber
 
Customer Service
 
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

Latest Events

Ontario Poultry Breeders
Sat Oct 21, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Poultry Welfare Auditor Course (PAACO)
Tue Oct 31, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Harvest Gala 2017
Thu Nov 02, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Poultry Innovations Conference and Banquet
Wed Nov 08, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Eastern Ontario Poultry Conference
Wed Nov 29, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM