“The outbreak of avian influenza here in the UK back in December 2016 has caused untold stress to the poultry and egg sector,” explains Dan England, director of PestFix. “The advent of new Animal & Plant Health Authority (APHA) protocol allows free range birds outdoors, if they can be kept segregated from wild birds. With this rule, the laser technology for bird dispersal comes into its own. Because they are domesticated, the hens are unaffected by the laser.”
One of the farms taking advantage of the technology is Orchard Eggs, based in West Sussex.
“Our birds are housed across 50 acres of orchard and we want to do everything to keep them safe from infection,” says Daniel Hoeberichts, owner of Orchard Eggs. “Once we heard about [laser technology], it seemed like an ideal solution to complement all of our other biosecurity measures.”
Automated lasers are method of repelling unwanted birds without causing harm to the wild birds, the chickens and the surrounding environment. The system being used at Orchard Eggs was developed by Bird Control Group, a Dutch company. The laser is silent and shows effectiveness of 90 to 100 per cent in bird dispersal at farms. This makes it a viable alternative to the expensive method of installing nets at the entire poultry farm.
In addition, the show featured more than 533,000 of net square feet of exhibit space and 1,275 exhibitors.
Sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the American Feed Industry Association and the North American Meat Institute, IPPE is the world's largest annual feed, meat and poultry industry event of its kind.
“This year’s tremendous exhibit floor and attendee and exhibitor numbers are a compliment to IPPE’s unmatched education programs, ample networking opportunities and diverse exhibits,” the three organizations stated in a joint press release. “The excitement and energy displayed by this year’s attendees and exhibitors will continue to safeguard the success and growth of future IPPEs.”
The central attraction was the large exhibit floor. Exhibitors demonstrated the most current innovations in equipment, supplies and services used by industry firms in the production and processing of meat, poultry, eggs and feed products. Numerous companies highlighted their new products at the trade show, with all phases of the feed, meat and poultry industry represented, from live production and processing to further processing and packaging.
A wide variety of educational programs complemented the exhibits by keeping industry management informed on the latest issues and events. This year’s educational line-up featured 25 programs, ranging from a conference on Listeria Monocytogenes prevention and control, to a program on FSMA hazard analysis training, to a program on whole genome sequencing and food safety implications.
Other featured events included the International Poultry Scientific Forum, Beef 101 Workshop, Pet Food Conference, TECHTalks program, Event Zone activities and publisher-sponsored programs, all of which made the 2017 IPPE one of the foremost annual protein and feed event in the world.
When mechanical nests were first introduced, many people began referring to them as ‘automatic’ nests. While the term technically applies to mechanical nests, they still require a lot of human involvement to operate efficiently.
Key to achieving outstanding performance with mechanical nests is the proper training and rearing of the females. This should start in the pullet barn, by placing slat sections, or perches, to help get the birds used to going up on to the slats.
The training should continue in the laying barn by routinely walking the birds to encourage them to move on to the slats and towards the nests. The females should also be in the right condition at lighting and carrying the proper amount of fleshing and fat reserve, to help them come into production with the correct nesting behavior.
Most mechanical nests are placed on slat sections, which play an important role in how the nests perform. Make sure slat areas are not too tall; 20-25 cm (8-10 inches) is a good height. Anything taller will discourage birds from jumping up from the scratch area, and a step or ramp would be useful in helping the birds move up on to the slat.
The nests should be down and open for the females to enter one week before the expected first egg. This will be approximately one week after light stimulation, which gives the pullets an opportunity to explore the nests and become comfortable using them. Close the nests at night to help keep the nest pads clean, which will also prevent the eggs from becoming contaminated. This becomes even more important as we move into an era of antibiotic-free broiler production.
Three areas of nest maintenance that have a huge impact are the nest pad, the curtain and the nest belt itself. Nest pads must be clean, because if dirty, a bird may be less likely to use that nest box. Secondly, if it is used, the egg laid on that pad will most likely be contaminated.
As well, nest pads installed at the wrong angle will cause issues. If the angle of the nest pad is not great enough, the eggs will not roll out of the nest box properly. If the angle is too much, it will discourage hens from using that nest box.
On center belt nests, if the curtain that separates the nest box and the egg belt is missing or curled up where the hen can see the egg belt moving, hens are discouraged from utilizing the nest box. If multiple nests are affected, you will soon see many of the hens laying their eggs outside the nest.
Egg belts should always be kept clean and in good repair. A belt that is not clean will often have an odour that the hens do not like and will keep them from using the nests. If the edges of the belts become frayed, the edges can rub the hen while the belt is running and cause her to leave the nest.
Producers should have a consistent program for running egg belts. It is best not to run the belts until you see 10 to 15 eggs. When starting the belt, run it slowly late in the afternoon. A rapidly moving belt creates excessive vibration, which scares the birds out of their nests. By slowing down the speed of the egg belt, you are less likely to scare the birds out of the nests.
Once the daily production reaches 5 per cent, run the belts at noon and again later in the day, around 5 p.m. When production reaches 20 per cent, go to more frequent gatherings. A good rule of thumb is to gather eggs at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. This will help acclimatize the birds to the sound and vibration of the belt. Multiple, consistent gatherings can prevent eggs from building up on the belt and also allow for an accurate daily count of egg production.
It is very important to accurately calculate and plan the nest space required. With a community style nest, a good rule is no more than 48 birds per meter of nest space. With a single-hole nest, allow for a maximum of 5 hens per hole, which will give the hens enough space to lay their eggs in the nest.
1. Correct equipment layout:
- With a community nest system: have a mix of feed lines in the scratch area and on the slats Water lines approximately 60 cm (24 inches) from the nest entrance, and adequate spacing between water and feed lines to allow the birds to comfortably use them
- With individual nest systems, have an adequate landing area from the front edge of the slat to the nest of 35-40 cm (14 -16 inches). The distance from the back of the nest to the feeder and the feed to the drinker line should be at least 45-60 cm (18-24 inches), and the height from the slat to the bottom of the feeder should be 20-22 cm (8-9 inches)
- High temperatures on the slats can stop the hens going into the nest
- Improper inlet pressure can cause air to enter the nest at a rate that causes a draft, forcing the hen out of the nest
- A minimum of 60 lux (6 FC) at bird level is desired, but an approximate six-fold increase in intensity from the brightest spot in rearing to the darkest spot in laying is needed
- No more than a 20 per cent difference in intensity across the barn
HatchTech of the Netherlands developed its ‘HatchCare’ incubation and chick care system to better benefit chicks, the environment and poultry farmers. The company conducted years of testing on HatchCare before rolling it out to market in 2014. The total number of chicks now being reared under the system per year is over 680 million, in Australia, China, Europe, South America, the U.S. and Canada.
With HatchCare, the fertility of eggs is first checked using new lighting methods so that only 100 per cent viable embryos are incubated. Chicks are vaccinated while still in the egg.
In a standard hatchery, chicks are shipped after emergence and receive their first food and water after they settle in on the farm a day later. In the HatchCare system, chicks are immediately able to drink and feed, which – several research studies have shown – results in higher body weight and breast meat yield. HatchTech also cites research findings showing HatchCare chicks to be 1 cm longer at hatch due to their incubation conditions.
HatchCare involves a unique and advanced handling system called HatchTraveller, where the chicks stay in small individual crates from hatching until delivery to the farm. The crates are then cleaned and disinfected for re-use. HatchTech representatives say this provides every chick with ongoing uniform conditions in terms of temperature, airflow and relative humidity. The highly energy-efficient HatchCare system also includes several features that enhance biosecurity, such as sealed incubators with filtered entry and exit air.
Doug Kaizer, Synergy’s chief financial officer, is very positive about their decision to go with HatchCare. “We were expecting improvements in chick health, mortality, weight gains and feed conversion, but we did not expect the large improvement in early farm brooding,” he notes. “The chicks arrive ready to grow. We use lower initial temperatures, put less feed out on paper and generally treat the chicks as if they are a couple of days older than their age. This has shown to be a tremendous help in the older barns, where it was harder to get the proper conditions for the day-old chicks.”
Kaizer says the system has also helped the company’s less-experienced barn managers. “The chicks aren’t as demanding, arrive with no hatchery infections and already have a built-in pattern for eating, drinking and resting,” he explains. “It has really levelled the playing field among different-aged facilities and experience levels of the farm operator.”
With HatchCare, Synergy has also been able to significantly lower antibiotic use. Before the installation, an average of over 20 per cent of flocks had to be treated due to issues from the breeder flock/hatchery. With HatchCare, to date that’s less than five per cent, and in most cases, Kaizer says, the reason for the treatment has been identified and the issue removed at the hatchery level. He adds that their HatchCare hatchery will be the key component in their move to RWA (raised without antibiotics) broiler production.
In terms of biosecurity, Kaizer describes the system as “very” biosecure, partially because the entire setup - from egg delivery to chick delivery - takes place in areas isolated from each other, and because every process has built-in biosecurity aspects. “One of the best features is the ability to clean and disinfect after each batch of eggs and chicks are processed,” he says.
With respect to fluff filtering, Kaizer notes that within the HatchCare setup, their processing room (take-off room) is extremely clean and by using a special storage area, they have reduced the size of the hatchery. Kaizer says they are adding to HatchTraveller by designing their own transport trailer, which will enable chicks to have feed throughout delivery, regardless of time or distance to the farm. “All chicks stay in the same box where they are hatched and do not undergo any of the stresses in traditional hatcheries related to handling by humans or machines,” he says. “The goal is to have an almost seamless transition for the chick from hatch to barn under perfect conditions.”
On the energy efficiency front, Kaizer says it’s hard to make comparisons with their previous setup, as HatchCare systems are very automated and also require a lot of fresh air to maintain the perfect environment for the hatchlings. He believes they are just beginning to understand all the benefits of the system.
“Every aspect of the hatchery will see continued improvements over the next few months and years,” he notes. “We are working on specific incubation parameters for young and old breeder flocks as well as specific setups to enhance the hatchability and health of eggs kept over longer periods of time. Our hatching egg farms saw an immediate gain of four per cent hatchability, but we know that this can be improved by another two to three per cent with flock-specific incubation.”
“We are continuing to experiment and adjust growing procedures in the barn as well the feed inputs for the broiler rations,” Kaizer adds. “Basically, we are examining every single aspect from the hatching egg farm to live transport to the processing plant to see how things can be improved for the chicks with the HatchCare system. The possibilities are almost endless.”
Besides the initial cost of the system and needing to keep a good inventory of spare parts, the biggest drawback of the system in Kaizer’s view, is digesting the amount of information that’s becoming available and almost being overwhelmed by the number of future trials they want to do.
In the past year, Synergy has hosted a lot of interested people who want to look at HatchCare in action. This has included staff from hatchery companies all over North America, South America, Europe and Australia. “As we say to all who have toured our facility,” Kaizer notes, “This is not an easy or cheap hatchery, but it produces the best chicks for the broiler farmer. If your organization’s goals are focused on health, animal welfare and broiler performance, this system is for you. But if your goal is least-cost hatching, you are better to look at the traditional hatchery systems.” However, he believes anyone thinking of building a new hatchery has to consider animal welfare and be concerned with traditional hatchers that don’t allow newly-hatched chicks access to food and water for many hours or days. He says all personnel at Synergy firmly believe HatchCare is the future of hatching for both animal health and animal welfare reasons. “When this system was unveiled,” concludes Kaizer, “we actually stopped our hatchery construction and redesigned the entire project to allow for the HatchCare system. Looking back, this was the best decision our company has ever made.”
Return on investment
Asked about the return-on-investment timeline, Kaizer says that as an integrated system, when they add the profitability of the hatching egg farms and broiler farms to the hatchery profits, they are very satisfied with the rate of return. “Our customers [farmers and shareholders] not only benefit financially, but take great pride in knowing that the chicks they grow are the healthiest and most humanely-hatched chicks in North America,” he says. “There is no better return as a farmer than when you go home each day and can tell your ten year-old daughter that we hatch the healthiest, happiest chicks in the
March 10, 2016 - Chick Master is introducing a new tracking tool to monitor eggshell temperature in real time. The new tool, called Tempo, is now available with Chick Master’s Maestro Hatchery Management System on all Avida Symphony setters.
The information provided by Tempo can aid hatcheries to improve chick quality. The current needs of the industry demand better tools to obtain maximum hatch results. Chick Master’s proven Maestro System is an intelligent management system that ensures communication, data monitoring and control of incubation and ventilation equipment to maximize hatchery performance.
Robert Holzer, president of Chick Master said, “One of the key factors influencing high quality chick development is proper embryo temperature during the incubation period. Tempo now adds a new dimension by providing the user the ability to monitor egg shell temperature in each zone in the most uniform single stage setter today.”
Tempo provides precise eggshell temperature data via a Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) which is used in healthcare services and medical research where precise accuracy is required. The temperature readings are not affected by the radiating heat that surrounds the targeted egg providing more precise temperature information allowing the user to better evaluate and monitor optimal embryo development.
Information provided by Tempo can be viewed as a graph on the Maestro Hatchery Management System or as a real time value on the machine’s touch screen. This feature will enable the user to modify the step program for factors including breeder flock age, egg size, fertility and season of the year to ensure proper temperature during the entire incubation process.
Water management is one of the most crucial components in a top-performing broiler flock. Broilers have advanced to grow faster, become larger with more breast meat, eat more feed at younger ages and be far more efficient than their predecessors, increasing their demand for water. The modern broiler house is also equipped with cooling equipment that utilizes large amounts of water during hot weather. All this has put more emphasis on the need for ample water supply and storage so birds can perform successfully. Chance Bryant focuses on water flow rates and water temperature – factors that sometimes get overlooked.
How much water does a broiler need? How much will a bird drink every day? These questions are often asked by producers and are very appropriate in achieving high performance, as water consumption and feed consumption are highly correlated (Table 1). In high performing flocks, at around 21 C, modern broilers on average will consume 1.8 to two times more water than feed, in weight. Consumption is dependent on house temperature. In hot climates, flocks can consume up to five times in weight the amount of feed they intake.
Water consumption will vary depending on environmental temperature, feed quality and bird health.
- Water consumption increases by six per cent for every increase in 1 C between 20-32 C.
- Water consumption increases by five per cent for every increase in 1 C between 32-38 C.
- Feed consumption decreases by 1.23 per cent for every increase in 1 C above 20 C
Any substantial change in water usage should be investigated as this may indicate a water leak, health challenge or feed issue. A drop in water consumption is often the first indicator of a flock problem.
To evaluate flock performance properly we need to know how much water birds are consuming every day. More advanced water meters record not only ‘daily’ consumption attainable, but enable an understanding of consumption at critical times of the day and critical times during the flock – both very relevant in assuring proper water intake.
These critical times can include feed changes, turning birds out from the brood area to three quarters or full house, transitioning from power ventilation to tunnel, field vaccinations, etc. If you monitor consumption during these periods, you can better understand if flocks are being properly managed.
WATER VOLUME AND ADEQUATE FLOW
Many of today’s high performance broilers are being raised in housing built for the broiler of the past. Unfortunately these houses are undersized, with inadequate plumbing and pipe sizing that struggles to keep up with the needs of modern high-performing and fast growth rate broilers. Worsening this situation can be the demand of cool cell systems, which often require twice as much water as the birds drink.
With an inadequate plumbing system or pipe sizing water may be diverted from drinkers to the cooling system which will restrict water supply to the birds and so lower feed consumption. Many broiler farms have multiple houses with large numbers of birds in each house. Often, the lights come on at the same time in every house and without adequate water volume and flow rates some houses can experience a shortage of water during these high peak periods.
All of these factors can decrease weight, increase FCR, create uniformity issues and place undue stress on birds, which can lead to an unhealthy flock.
There are many options used to ensure water volume/flow will meet bird needs at high peak demand times. Digital water meters connected to the house controller can monitor water consumption not only on a 24-hour basis but also in allotted time increments during the day.
This information can help determine if our water system is keeping up at critical ‘high demand’ times, as when the lights come on after a dark period. Knowing this can be very helpful in tracking down performance issues on a farm, especially one with big, multi-houses.
As well as water quality and availability, the temperature of the water that birds are drinking needs to be considered. During the first few days of brooding, consumption rates are low and the water flow through the system is minimal. In a modern broiler house with very efficient heating systems the water temperature can easily exceed 35 C.
This water temperature is not as palatable to chicks and can lead to low intake and poor performance. Excessively warm water can also contribute to increased bacterial growth within the drinker system which can lead to higher bacterial infection within the flock. The ideal water temperature should be around 10-14 C coming from the source.
Water consumed by the birds should never be allowed to increase above 30 C. If this occurs the drinking system should be flushed periodically to maintain cooler, fresher water.
Water is one of the crucial aspects of broiler flock management. Understanding and managing water in broilers — providing them with fresh, clean, ample water when they need it — will help to achieve success flock after flock.
With all their automated controls, sensors and so much more, today’s hatcheries, packing houses, grading facilities and on-farm barns are quite high-tech. But HatchTech of the Netherlands has taken hatchery technology to a whole new level with its ‘HatchCare’ incubation and chick care system, to the benefit of chicks, the environment and poultry farmers. Synergy Agri Group (based in Port Williams, Nova Scotia) recently installed HatchCare – the first in Canada and the fourth company in the world to do so. Erik Helmink of HatchTech says the firm is currently producing 200 000 HatchCare broiler chicks a week.
Let’s look at how HatchCare is different by first briefly describing a standard hatchery, where chicks are shipped away after emergence and receive their first food and water after they settle in on the farm – a day later. With HatchCare, firstly the fertility of eggs is checked using new lighting methods so that only 100 per cent viable embryos are incubated. Chicks are vaccinated while still in the egg. Once hatched, chicks are immediately able to have a drink and a feed, which research has shown results in higher body weight and breast meat yield in male broilers. HatchTech also cites research findings showing HatchCare chicks to be one centimetre longer at hatch, which Helmink says is due to “laminair air flow.”
HatchCare also involves a unique and advanced handling system called HatchTraveller, where the chicks stay in small individual crates from hatching until delivery to the farm. The crates are then cleaned and disinfected for
re-use. Helmink says HatchTraveller gives every chick perfect, uniform conditions in terms of temperature, air flow and relative humidity, “like they stay in the hatcher.”
HatchCare also includes several features that enhance bio-security, such as sealed incubators with filtered entry and exit air. Over 95 per cent of fluff is removed from the air before it leaves the hatchery, eliminating the need for a fluff room and reducing the amount of space needed in a hatchery by about 20 per cent.
In terms of energy efficiency, the systems’ insulation levels are very high (Helmink says its insulation value is up to 70 per cent higher than traditional Styrofoam), and its direct-drive motors with sensor-controlled speeds use less power. Anodized water-filled aluminum radiators with very large surface areas reduce heat-up time during startup and cool effectively when needed.
Doug Korver has done research showing that incubation temperatures for egg embryos may need to be adjusted depending on the age of the broiler breeder flock and the strain of bird. We asked the professor in the department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science at University of Alberta whether a system like HatchCare would be useful in making these adjustments, compared to previous hatchery system models or current competitor models.
“Single-stage incubation definitely makes it easier to manage conditions to more closely match the requirements for eggs from a particular breeder flock or age or egg size,” he replied. From that standpoint, Korver can’t say that the HatchTech system is any better or worse than any other single-stage incubator, but he notes that “potentially, the benefits of this system are that the chicks will have access to fed and water immediately after hatching. This would increase early intestinal development and potentially reduce stress and susceptibility to disease, while also increasing early growth rate. I think this is the biggest potential advantage of this system over other single-stage systems, and would be additive to the benefits over multi-stage incubation.”
Korver cautions however, that depending on how large the system is and how many different breeder flocks supply a HatchCare system, “some of the same issues regarding variation in egg size (and therefore optimum incubation conditions) might remain…Even with single-stage incubation…mixing different breeder flock ages and/or sizes of eggs can make it difficult to provide the optimum conditions for each egg.”
HatchCare is born
HatchCare was introduced after years of development in 2014. The total number of chicks being reared under the system per year is now at 682 million. However, by the spring of 2016, more installations will be up and running in Australia, China, some European and south American countries, as well as the U.S. and Canada. In one of their hatcheries, Probroed & Sloot in the Netherlands is running five HatchCare systems with a capacity of 90 000 chicks each. This totals about 650 000 HatchCare chicks a week (Probroed & Sloot calls them ProCare chicks). The firm will have installed five more HatchCare systems by February 2016, so the company will be able to deliver more than a million Hatchcare chicks a week from that point onward.
Probroed & Sloot’s Edwin Paardekooper says his company began working with HatchTech in 2008 as a partner to help develop the new system (known as Hatchbrood at that point). In 2013, they did the first tests with eggs hatching in a hatcher with feed and water. “They have a lot of knowledge and we have a lot of technical knowledge so we worked closely together,” Paardekooper explains. “Two things are important about the system. Vitality of the chick/reducing antibiotics and animal welfare. For the first is the advantage of early feeding. It means the chicks are growing sooner and they are about 15 per cent heavier at poult. The other factor of importance is the care of the chicks. As soon as they hatch, they are able to drink and eat and then they have a nap. They are so quiet, comfortable and satisfied. It is impressive to see.”
Although the energy savings provided with HatchCare are also welcome, Paardekooper says it’s the improved
performance of chicks that made leaders at his company so supportive of the system. “In this part of Europe, it’s important to reduce the use of antibiotics, and to have high standards for animal welfare,” he explains. “HatchCare chicks are stronger and healthier at first and in their life at the farms. They are so comfortable and this is what convinced me. My opinion is that we are starting with totally new chicks. Our farmers only want chicks reared with this system. These chicks are going to teach us a lot about what chicks need.”
December 2, 2015, Arthur, Ont. - Canarm AgSystems and Intelia have created a partnership to drive innovative new solutions for barn ventilation systems.
Canarm AgSystems is an Ontario-based manufacturer of ventilation, housing and technology solutions for barns. Intelia is a Quebec-based manufacturer of precision controls for livestock barns, especially poultry, hogs and dairy cattle.
The partnership was formed to merge the innovation power of the two companies for creating precision solutions for livestock as farmers demand more data-driven tools. The companies are integrating their technology to create new barn environment control options that they say will lower operating costs for farmers. These products will launch in early 2016.
As well, Canarm AgSystems and Intelia are committed to long-term, industry-leading customer service that farmers can rely on to keep their barns monitored and working efficiently.
Canarm AgSystems and its dealer network will now market Intelia’s controllers across Canada. Canarm and its dealers will also support previously marketed Intelia controllers.
UGA poultry science developed the Chkminvent app, a poultry house moisture removal and ventilation calculator intended to provide users with an estimated minimum ventilation rate required to remove the specified daily amount of moisture from a poultry house. Photo by Mike Czarick
University of Georgia poultry housing experts have released the state’s first app to help poultry farmers determine how much they should ventilate their houses during cold weather.
With thousands of birds living in a single house, keeping the air warm and fresh without spending a fortune on fuel during the winter can be one of the toughest challenges for broiler producers. The new app – called CHKMINVENT – is meant to simplify this process, said Mike Czarick, a poultry housing engineer at UGA’s Department of Poultry Science.
“In the summertime, ventilation is fairly straightforward,” he said. “The more air they can move through the house, the better off their birds will be. In the winter, there is so much more at stake. Ventilate too much and you will have excessive energy costs and stressed birds. Ventilate too little you will have poor air quality and wet litter, which can lead to poor performance and health.”
The app, available through Apple’s App Store, allows farmers to enter variables, such as the outside temperature, the amount of water the chickens consume, the temperature inside the house and the size of the poultry house’s fans. It then calculates how long farmers need to run their fans in order to remove excess moisture from the house and keep the chickens at a comfortable temperature.
“The app gives people a starting point as to how much fresh air they need to bring in to control house air quality and litter moisture,” Czarick said. “It’s not intended to provide a precise minimum ventilation rate. It’s going to take adjusting, but this at least gives a scientifically based place to start.”
For more information about the CHKMINVENT app, search for it on Apple’s App Store. For now, the app is only available for iPhone, but the team may develop versions for other operating systems based on demand for this initial version.
Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The current phasing out of incandescent light sources has created an urgent need for more energy efficient lighting systems in the poultry industry. To date, a lighting system designed specifically for egg producers has been lacking, but Dr. Gregoy Bedecarrats has developed a special LED light bulb to address this need
In an interview, Dr. Bedecarrats, a Poultry Physiologist from the University of Guelph, described the theoretical design criteria for an LED light bulb to be used specifically by the egg-laying industry.
“Firstly, in birds, light is perceived through retinal and extra-retinal (hypothalamic, pineal) photoreceptors capable of converting light into neuroendocrine signals. Secondly, direct photo-stimulation of the hypothalamus results in activation of the reproductive axis,” he explained. “And finally, our research shows that light from the red spectrum is critical to stimulate the reproductive axis and maintain high levels of egg production in hens, and this effect is mediated by hypothalamic photoreceptors.”
In partnership with Thies Electrical Distribution Inc., Dr. Bedecarrats has designed a new LED light bulb that delivers 60 per cent red spectral light.
The research approach undertaken to validate the new LED light bulb included testing its efficiency (electric consumption) and efficacy (on production parameters) with comparable light sources at the University of Guelph’s Arkell Research Station prior to testing in a large scale commercial barn in Ontario.
“Use of this 60 per cent red spectral output LED light bulb is capable of increasing egg production by three per cent, decreasing feed consumption by three to four per cent, and reducing electricity consumption by 80 per cent and 20 per cent respectively when compared to incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs,” said Dr. Bedecarrats in describing the overall
findings of the validation studies of this new LED light bulb. “These results show that this light bulb can increase productivity and significantly reduce energy costs in a commercial setting. Thus, it represents a perfect option for barn retrofit or new barns in the egg-laying industry”.
This research was funded by the Poultry Industry Council, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Dykstra’s Poultry Farm, Thies Electrical Distribution Co., and the Canadian Poultry Research Council: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Poultry Cluster 2).
March 20, 2015 - Patz Corporation has a new addition to its Vertical Mixer line. The new 400 Series II Single Screw Stationary Vertical Mixer is offered in 140 cubic foot (3.9 m3) or 200 cubic foot (5.7 m3) capacities. It's built heavier to handle the blending of livestock rations and compost materials.
The 400 Series II Vertical Mixer has been redesigned from the ground up. The mixer’s new, rectangular base allows for multiple drive mounting locations, enabling customers to adjust discharge door location simply by moving the motor and turning the machine. The mixer tub now comes standard with a ½-inch thick floor plate, heavy-duty ¼-inch walls, and two adjustable flow restrictors for exceptional mix quality of longer materials. The newly-designed steel cone-top screw includes flighting that is 60% heavier for increased lifespan and durability. Screw wear points are also reinforced with AR-400 steel. A four-piece top safety guard encloses the mixer tub, meeting ASABE safety standards and promoting safer operation of the unit. The 400 Series II Vertical Mixer is also easier to service, thanks to a new, telescoping drive line with sheer bolt protection with easy access for maintenance and service.
A variety of options allow the mixer to be customized for any industry. A choice of three drive packages (one motor, two motor, or one motor without 2 speed gearbox) provide expanded horsepower options, while an optional variable frequency drive kit offers versatile speed control for exceptional mixing and cleanout. Users will also be able to select from 5 knife options, including the patented Patz Raptor™ knife, and increase the capacity of their vertical mixer with optional side extensions.
For more information, visit www.patzcorp.com or your local Patz dealer.
The Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC), an organization has served as an informal information hub since 2003 for the four poultry marketing boards in Ontario – Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission, and Turkey Farmers of Ontario – now plays a leadership role in emergency disease management.
Dr. Tom Baker, a consultant and incident commander at FBCC, says that over the years, the FBCC has made progress in a variety of ways to help the poultry industry: geo-spatial coding of poultry farm locations, disease outbreak simulations, biosecurity practices and more.
As well, the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program provided financial assistance to make the collaboration with the marketing boards official and improve emergency management planning and rapid response/recovery capacity, including the development of an Emergency Management Plan.
Thanks to the funding, the FBCC was able to create a new and secure website to help co-ordinate emergency responses, convey communication and recovery initiatives as well as provide access to maps and other useful resources.
“FBCC aspires to have an emergency-free Ontario poultry industry through industry-led disease incident risk management,” said Baker.
“When notified of a disease incident, FBCC maps the involved area and advises all farmers in the affected zone to institute heightened biosecurity measures. Poultry industry associations and poultry veterinarians are also alerted of the need for heightened biosecurity and provided with a buffered zone map.”
The website will be used as a way to avoid constant e-mailing among staff, agencies, experts, etc. and centralize all the information, including manuals, test results and biosecurity resources.
Added Baker: “Previously, feather boards communicated with their members and stakeholders primarily through their own websites and newsletters. It was long recognized that timeliness, security, and consistency would be enhanced with an integrated secure (or ‘dark’) website. The new website went live in the spring of 2013 and was used successfully in the two-day FBCC Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) Simulation in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF), Animal Health Laboratory (University of Guelph) and the Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council (OLPC).”
The goal of the new FBCC website, according to Baker, is to provide:
- efficient and secure internal information exchange with access based on the individual’s response role and information needs
- common timely messaging of disease incident status
- alignment of key messages with those of government
- access to critical information resources, such as the Emergency Response Plan, biosecurity resources, technical fact sheet, etc.
- documentation access
- efficient staff management according to the Incident Command System functional structure used by emergency responders
- entryway to government regulatory processes (for example, movement permit applications)
- timely and common messaging amongst the four feather boards to co-ordinate information sharing with all government, laboratory and industry stakeholders and partners.
- archival information to learn from past incidents
- forum to discuss policy and scientific issues
- access to the website via mobile devices
One of the most notable features of the new FBCC website is that the general public cannot access it in any way; it is securely protected and offers only limited access to individuals within
Baker says that one of the main reasons for this drastic change in access is due to the risk of misinterpreted information getting into the public domain. “In several international disease incidents, media curiosity has been a significant deterrent to effective information exchange amongst responders,” he said. “And in some cases, the biosecurity on site was threatened.”
There are three levels of access for the website:
Level 1 – those who manage content (update messages, assign staff, verify completed tasks, document), such as assigned Incident Command staff and Section Chiefs
Level 2 – staff with Incident Command co-ordination responsibilities
Level 3 – those who view only, in declining order of access:
- designated government liaison and communication staff
- FBCC Board members
- Advisory Group members (view and participate in Forum discussions)
- key stakeholder and partner associations
- individual key enterprises and producers
- guests and media (location map with zones, disease summary)
The FBCC site is also extremely versatile and could be developed into a news source.
“This website could be expanded into a livestock and poultry web portal that would allow other livestock and crop organizations faced with emergency response challenges to have secure access to its customized features.”
However, he is quick to point out that the FBCC site currently only meets the most basic initial emergency response needs, as it is only a skeleton framework for a potentially more comprehensive site. Visitors to the site, Baker adds, have been incredibly useful.
“Users of the site see many new possibilities for enhancements that can serve industry needs throughout the whole emergency management continuum from report of disease suspicion, through to response, movement controls and recovery,” he said.
The goal is to make the FBCC website a “one-stop” website for emergency disease management resources.
PAACO’s mission is: “To promote the humane treatment of animals through education and certification of animal auditors, as well as the review and certification of animal audit instruments, assessments and programs.” And while PAACO has been training poultry welfare auditors since 2006, the 2013 course was only the second offering in Canada.
The first Canadian offering of the course, organized by PIC in the fall of 2012, quickly sold out, and a number of hopefuls had to be placed on a waiting list. This year was also very well attended.
The popularity of the Poultry Welfare Auditor Training Course stems from the fact that it is all encompassing, applying to welfare criteria within and across all sectors of industry, and is offered locally.
“We have producers and farmers, packers and processors, academia, government, and what we call ‘customers’ such as Sobeys and Walmart. They all require knowledge in welfare auditing, and they all have different reasons for being validated,” says Mike Simpson, PAACO executive director
“I would say about 40 per cent or more take the course purely for educational value, so that they are familiar with animal welfare issues, terminology and criteria,” continues Simpson. “For the remainder, they might want a PAACO certified auditor on staff because they are doing internal audits and want them done routinely with the same rigour and the same standards as would be expected in a third-party audit situation. In addition, they want assurance that when an official audit is done it is being done right. Important also would be training to become a third-party auditor.”
Importance in business
The PAACO Poultry Welfare Auditor Training Course is an important step toward proving business integrity to customers and consumers, but it also objectively assesses if, and where, there are any issues. Leanne Cooley of Gray Ridge Eggs Inc., and a member of the PIC board of directors, is a PAACO-certified poultry welfare auditor and holds a master of science in animal behaviour and welfare from the University of Guelph.
“Canadian farmers have many excellent, existing on-farm programs that are achieving the goals and standards set out, and that should be maintained,” she says. However, Cooley feels that the Canadian food industry would benefit from more Canadian PAACO-certified auditors with good knowledge of Canadian animal agriculture and existing on-farm programs.
“If the goal is to truly improve animal welfare through the supply chain, then as an industry we need to ensure that all auditors, whether first, second or third party, are able to evaluate each farm and processor fairly, objectively, and equitably across Canada,” says Cooley. “This requires appropriate, standardized training and accreditation for all auditors, particularly in the area of live animal production and processing.”
In the course, students learn the commonly audited poultry welfare criteria, addressing the relevant welfare-specific areas for each of the commodity groups, including broilers, turkeys and egg layers and covering specific production segments: breeders, hatchery, grower/producer, transportation and processing.
Trainees also learn poultry husbandry and management best practices based on U.S. course material. However, leading up to the first Canadian delivery of the course, PIC helped to revise the material to work with the Canadian poultry industry structure. The course is also largely in line with the Canadian Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Poultry. PAACO will ensure continued alignment in future course offerings, as the Codes are a nationally recognized standard of care across Canada.
The course runs over three days and begins with two days of classroom instruction, with the first day on management and husbandry related to welfare criteria and audits, and the second teaching trainees precisely how to audit those criteria. The third day is spent travelling to farms for audit demonstrations at broiler, layer and turkey facilities, followed by a closed-book exam. In addition, training for certification requires three shadow audits over a time period of 12 months, where trainees are evaluated by a certified and experienced auditor.
To learn more about becoming a PAACO Certified Poultry Welfare Auditor, please visit www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca or www.animalauditor.org.
A situation that many producers may be dealing with is outdated heating systems. Older-style brooder heaters and box furnace heaters (which may be the best option for breeder barns) have some inherent problems. The biggest issue is the percentage of heat that rises to the ceiling instead of the floor, where the heat is needed. In brooder-style heaters, this can be nearly 50 per cent, and in the case of furnaces, almost all of the heat rises instead of heating the floor, resulting in a temperature difference of up to 15 F. In open-truss barns, the stratification of air was as much as 20 F.1
This would be fine if gas were a penny a litre, but obviously that’s not the case, so we need to mix that hot air at the ceiling with the cooler air at the floor. During brooding or extreme cold, even with a proper minimum ventilation system, there won’t be enough mixing to even this out, so stir fans are the best way to mix the air. Within five minutes of turning on stir fans, a temperature difference between ceiling and floor of under 3 F is easily attainable.
Creating more air movement over the litter – especially the newly heated fresh air – will create more opportunity for moisture evaporation and result in less caking. The fresh air that has been heated to 40 F, for example, as it enters the barn and travels along the ceiling, will double its water holding capacity twice. What that means is, even with 80 per cent outside humidity levels, that fresh air would have a relative humidity level of 20 per cent after heating, and the ability to pull a lot of moisture out of the litter if it reaches the floor. An additional side-effect of reducing the litter moisture and caking will be lower ammonia concentrations.
Another benefit is decreasing the level of carbon dioxide at the bird level. This can be a problem particularly during the first week of brooding when moisture control hasn’t yet become a problem.
Because heaters produce a unit of carbon dioxide for every unit of natural gas and three for every unit of propane, and the birds are also producing the gas, buildup can occur quickly near the floor. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, and can easily be 10 to 20 times the normal outdoor level (400 parts per million) with under-ventilation in a poultry barn. A level of 5,000 ppm can begin to affect performance, but it is recommended that levels be kept below 2,500 ppm. With stir fans running, levels at the floor can decrease as much as 50 per cent as carbon dioxide is dispersed throughout the barn.
The purpose of stir fans are to mix the air, not to circulate the air at a high speed, so the sizing and speed of the fan should reflect this goal. In general, for most applications, an 18- to 20-inch fan will do a great job of stirring the air without chilling young birds, especially if fans are angled slightly toward the ceiling. A second factor to keep in mind when purchasing fans is the grill. The fewer ribs in the grill, the cleaner the fan will stay, and the better the airflow will be.
An ideal system will be sized to move about 10 to 15 per cent of air in the building. For example, a typical 20-inch fan that can move about three to 5,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air, and a 40 foot x 500 foot building with a 10-foot ceiling.
Calculation of 40 x 500 x 10 x 15 per cent gives us 30,000 cfm capacity for our stir fan system, so if using 3,000 cfm fans, 10 will be needed. If you need 36-inch fans for wind chill in the summer in curtain side barns, they should be variable speed so they can be used as stir fans in the cold months, or it may be worthwhile to have a second system with smaller fans.
There are a few schools of thought on stir fan layout, the most common are the “racetrack” and “straight-line” configurations. It works well to run a straight line down the centre in 40-foot-wide barns, spaced about 50 feet apart. But in wider barns, a racetrack configuration makes more sense because it is difficult to stir the air wall to wall more than 40 feet.
No matter how tightly sealed barns are, or how well managed they are, stir fans will always pay back with better floor conditions, lower heating costs and improved performance. They are a relatively small investment, and if you already have them, they should be in working condition and in use.
1 University of Georgia’s Poultry Housing Tips, Volume 18 Number 10, https://www.poultryventilation.com/sites/default/files/tips/2001/vol13n1.pdf
The new entrant program, aimed at meeting increased consumer demand for locally produced specialty eggs, includes the creation of a class of leased quotas that will add up to 2,000 laying hens to Nova Scotia's system of egg supply management.
Farmers who meet NSEP's eligibility requirements can enter a lottery in order to receive leased quota for up to 500 hens per farm. These special quotas cannot be transferred or sold and must be used to raise hens in alternative housing.
Farmers must also comply with all NSEP programs, including food safety and animal care. If an applicant's business plan includes selling eggs to retail or food service outlets, the eggs must be graded at federally registered egg grading stations.
NSEP is also increasing to 200, from 100, the number of hens that small-scale, diversified farmers are allowed to maintain without having to obtain quotas. The increased small flock exemption is aimed at helping family farms take advantage of market opportunities to broaden their revenues, as well as boosting rural economies.
"Today's announcements ensure that Nova Scotians will have increased access to a full selection of locally produced eggs using all housing systems," says Geneve Newcombe, Chair NSEP. "These changes also demonstrate the flexibility of supply management, the system that has been supplying our market with local eggs and helping to maintain family owned egg farms for more than 40 years."
As in all other provinces, NSEP uses a system of supply management to ensure a stable supply of locally produced eggs to consumers at fair prices while also providing farmers with a fair return. Farmers must own quotas for the number of laying hens and must adhere to rigorous food safety and animal welfare standards.
The introduction of leased quota is pending regulatory review and approval. The increase in the small flock threshold has already received approval and is now in effect.
"I am pleased with the Egg Producers' response to changing consumer demand for egg products that use different types of production approaches," says Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell. "I am also pleased that the Egg Producers responded to the need for development opportunities for small business and small farmers."
NSEP is confident that its decision to allow small-scale farmers to now have flocks of up to 200 laying hens without the need to purchase quota will provide an economic stimulus for both diversified farmers and their communities.
"Farming can be a tough business but our small flock of egg layers provides us with a stable source of revenue," explains Bill Wood, a farmer in Tatamagouche, in Colchester County. "Doubling the allowable number of hens is a most welcome decision."
Nov. 13, 2013, Middlebury, IN - Ziggity Systems Inc. has launched a new website called “Poultry Watering U” (www.poultrywatering.com) as an educational resource for poultry producers looking for easy-to-digest information about different aspects of poultry watering systems.
As poultry producers look for every edge to maintain top flock performance and to take advantage of new revenue opportunities, such as paw exports, management of poultry watering systems has become more critical than ever. Poultry Watering U provides articles and videos that explain visually and in clear language how birds drink and the best methods for keeping them at peak health and performance.
The site also seeks to dispel myths about bird water consumption and focuses on practical, reality-tested management practices that Ziggity has found most helpful over its many years as an exclusive provider of poultry watering equipment.
“Poultry watering is all we do and it’s all we study,” said the company. “The bottom line for us has always been what gets the best results. We ask, ‘what can we do, not only with our products, but with our management expertise, to help producers get the results that will enable them thrive in today’s poultry market?’ ”
The site updates older management articles found at www.ziggity.com and includes newer, simplified practices for things such as correctly adjusting water pressure. It also features “watering principles” that can help producers better understand how birds drink and the thinking behind specific practices. “We believe it’s very important for producers to understand not only what to do but why they are doing it,” said the company. “That extra bit of knowledge can be key in some situations.”
From such basic principles, a wide range of topics related to enclosed watering systems will continue to be added to the site over time, under such categories as System Maintenance, Environmental Management, Controlling Disease, Water Quality, Drinker Management, and Equipment Solutions.
“We’ve distilled the best of what we know into this site, covering poultry watering systems with a depth and breadth not seen from any other company,” said Ziggity. “That’s why we’re calling it Poultry Watering U. It will be continually updated and visitors can expect to see helpful videos to show what we’re talking about, providing both overviews and practical step-by-step instructions for specific practices.”
Although there is some product-specific information, the site is designed to be useful to producers using any kind of enclosed watering system.
Visitors can also sign up on the site to receive periodic free e-bulletins from Ziggity highlighting various water management topics and the latest additions to the site.
“It’s all about sharing knowledge. There’s a lot that goes into a good, well-managed system. The more ways we can spread such knowledge throughout the poultry industry, the more everyone can benefit,” said the company.
Today, two breeders dominate the international market for layers, broilers (90 per cent) and turkeys. As well, there are hardly any middle-level breeders left in Canada, and until recently, five Canadian institutions conducting agricultural research kept 38 populations of chickens and Japanese quail.
The Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Agassiz, B.C,, has recently terminated its poultry unit, including nine lines of chickens and nine lines of Japanese quail.
It is clear that avian researchers and the poultry industry have experienced a massive loss of genetic resources. Maintaining live flocks is impractical and very costly, and economical methods of preserving poultry genetics for future use are badly needed, as genetic resources continue to narrow.
In the recent past, the only effective method of conserving poultry germplasm has been in living animals. Alternative options have been attempted over the years, but results have not been very promising. Fertility obtained from cryopreserved chicken semen is unpredictable and the structure of the avian egg prevents its cryopreservation. Embryonic cells can be stored and used to generate germline chimeras (organisms with a mixture of cells from different embryos), but this requires complex procedures and results in very low efficiency. Over the past century, chicken ovarian transplantation has been attempted with limited success.
Successful development of techniques for cryopreservation and transplantation of ovaries and testicles of birds can provide the means of maintaining the genetic variation needed for full differentiation of markets for poultry meat and eggs. Dr. Fred Silversides, formerly of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, together with Drs. Yonghong Song (Dubai), Jianan Liu (USDA post-doctoral research fellow) and Kim Cheng (UBC), has been working on optimizing cryopreservation and transplantation of avian gonadal tissue.
The first step in this research, which was Dr. Jianan Liu’s PhD project, was aimed at simplifying the storage process for cryopreserved genetic material by using vitrification, which converts liquid to a glass-like substance instead of ice crystals, and has several advantages over slow-freezing procedures in preserving tissue.
A vitrification protocol was developed to preserve Japanese quail ovarian and testicular tissue, using cryoprotective agents and acupuncture needles to facilitate tissue handling. Rather than using cryovials typically used for cryopreservation, a simpler straw system was tested and found to be an ideal storage medium, as it has the advantage of fitting into existing systems for storage and transport.
Normal morphology of testicular tissue was observed after in ovo culture and live offspring were produced by performing surgical insemination directly into the hen’s oviduct with the extrusion of cryopreserved testicular tissue. Donor-derived offspring were also efficiently produced from cryopreserved and transplanted ovarian tissue.
Also, because gonadal transplantation is critical to functional recovery of cryopreserved tissue but can be limited by tissue rejection, the researchers used thymic tissue to improve the efficiency of immunological acceptance. Donor thymic tissue was implanted into recipient embryos, and gonadal tissue from the same donor was transplanted under the skin to the recipient after hatching. Transplant viability and histology were also examined.
It was found that thymic implantation might improve survival of gonadal transplants from chicken to chicken, but not transplants from quail to chickens. Investigations into avian ovarian transplantation led to intriguing additional observations: donor-derived offspring were produced from transplanted adult quail ovarian tissue, although delayed age at first egg and reduced reproductive longevity were observed with the transplants. As well, offspring with chimeric plumage coloration were produced from cryopreserved and transplanted chicken ovarian tissue, indicating chimeric folliculogenesis.
This project provides a successful model of cryobanking avian gonadal tissue using a simple vitrification method and suggests future directions in improving transplantation tolerance and using gonadal transplantation in avian research. This is good news for the poultry industry, as cryobanking of germplasm is both economical and ensures availability of genetic resources for years to come. To read more about this research project, please visit www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca.
The Poultry Industry Council congratulates Dr. Fred Silversides on his 2013 Poultry Science Association American Egg Board Research Award.
The American Egg Board Research Award is given to increase the interest in research pertaining to egg science technology or marketing that has a bearing on egg or spent hen utilization. The award is given to an author for a manuscript published in Poultry Science or The Journal of Applied Poultry Research during the preceding year.
Sunday's fire at Murray's Poultry Farm also damaged one of the operation's huge barns.
Investigators say the blaze was likely caused by an overheated fan motor, which caused the surrounding material to combust.
Farm owner Leith Murray suspects that while some of the chickens would have died in the fire, most would have suffocated or died from smoke inhalation.
Kensington and New London fire departments responded to the call.
Kensington fire chief Alan Sudsbury says firefighters were on scene for about two hours.
"Our Government is committed to ensuring that Western Canada's agricultural sector has the resources and opportunities to succeed in the global economy and continue creating jobs for Canadians," said Minister Rempel. "We are proud to invest in new technologies that strengthen the productivity and international competitiveness of the western Canadian poultry industry."
The federal investment of $2.6 million through Western Economic Diversification Canada, combined with support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and industry, will enable the Institute for Applied Poultry Technologies to purchase and install specialized equipment needed to establish and operate a technology innovation and commercialization centre. This centre will develop, produce and commercialize vaccines and other health-related products. It will also provide western Canadian poultry producers enhanced access to advanced diagnostic services, vaccine development and production capabilities.
"In addition to being a sound industry, government and academia partner, the Institute will help address consumer demands for enhanced food safety, and value-added, hormone-free poultry products, leading to increased consumer confidence in our food supply," said Gordon Cove, ALMA President and CEO.
"The Institute for Applied Poultry Technologies is focused on developing technical solutions and products for the Canadian and global poultry industries," said Dr. Tom Inglis, President of the Institute's Board. "By working with an integrated team of scientists, veterinarians, industry experts, producers and the manufacturing sector, the Institute will be an incubator for the development of commercial products, tests and applied science. Together we will help to secure a competitive advantage for Western Canada's poultry industry."
For more on the Institute for Applied Poultry Technologies, please visit http://www.iaptwest.org/
Mullet Koop farms with his wife Laura (who hails from a cattle ranch in Alberta’s Peace River region), and their three children near Jordan, Ont., the fifth generation on a farm started by his great-grandfather in 1932.
Today, in addition to capacity for 20,000 pullets per year, there are 5,500 laying hens, and 45 of their 57 acres are planted in wine and juice grapes. It was changing his laying hen facility into an enriched colony system that ultimately led him to growing chicks and to the Combi Pullet, which just won an innovation award at France’s largest poultry trade show.
“I’ve never grown pullets before. My whole project oriented towards converting the existing housing into an alternative system but we couldn’t do it in the existing barn so we built a new barn. So what do I do with the existing barn?” he explains. “It was Dad who suggested we could grow our own chicks and since most chicks grown in Ontario are grown in traditional cage housing or on the floor, I wanted a system that would complement my new layer facility.”
A lengthy search finally brought him to the Combi Pullet, developed by Farmer Automatic in Germany, which has interior LED tube lighting, interior feed troughs and three levels of perch space. It mirrors his layer system in almost every way except it doesn’t have nest boxes. But finding out everything he needed to know, and convincing himself that this was the one, was not easy.
“This is such a recent innovation that there are only one or two systems in France and Germany that have been installed. So I tried to get some data and information and talk to people who had seen it,” he says, adding that he finally managed to see a partition of the system at a display at the International Poultry Show in Atlanta this past January.
“I was sold on it, how the chicks would navigate and what the benefits would be.”
The system’s cages can be kept open or closed, which he says will give him the option to grow pullets for both conventional and different alternative housing barns in the future.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
His first pullet flock was 14 days old at the time of this interview in mid-September and he was very pleased with how things were working out so far, recording only a half per cent mortality rate during that time. The system came with a series of maps and charts to help guide him through usage and maintenance, and since he is the first farmer in North America to have the installation, the equipment supplier and others are closely watching his experiences in the industry, including the grader who buys their eggs.
“Everything has been charted, including what needs to be done environment-wise to keep the temperature, feed and water at appropriate amounts to get a good survival rate from hatching. But you’re still dealing with living animals,” he says, adding that although it’s going well so far, it’s his first time growing pullets so he’s not in a position to make comparisons with other pullet rearing systems.
“When they were eight days old, I noticed the first chick on a 12-inch perch and now, at 14 days, I’m seeing all of them on the two-foot-high perch,”
This is in contrast to what he has observed in his new layer barn with a flock that came from traditional pullet housing.
Very few birds use the second- or third-level perch, preferring to remain on the floor or use the front perch that is only three inches off the floor. He says it’s interesting to observe the difference in his pullet barn and he’s keen to see how his first flock of pullets will adapt to their layer cages when the time comes.
It was the increased focus on animal welfare-friendly production that helped the producer consider the switch to alternative housing. Before building his new layer facility, he’d been producing eggs in a conventional system, and although alternative housing options aren’t yet standard, he feels that’s only a matter
“The industry is moving increasingly towards alternative housing systems and looking more carefully at animal behaviour to try to create a production environment that will accommodate that,” he believes.
“It’s not a standard yet, but I can see this coming and our cages were almost 30 years old, so this was the time to
He hasn’t noticed any production increase from his hens in the two and a half months they’ve been in the new layer barn so far, but he is hoping that will change in the long run. He anticipates being able to raise a better pullet with stronger bone structure that will result in fewer cracks or better longevity in the shell quality. It’s something he says he’ll be watching for over the next few flocks that he’s growing himself.
“Ultimately, my goal is to achieve the best results in cage-free rearing. I do want to open the cages and see how their bone strength and health develop and how that might alter when they lay as mature layers,” he explains.
Mullet Koop is also involved with Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) in helping to promote the industry. He serves as a zone councilor for EFO, has been an active member of the EFO speak-up team and was one of several producers featured in the highly popular and award-winning “Who made your eggs today?” campaign.
So when it came time to unveil his new facilities, he and his family hosted two open houses: one for the layer barn on June 21 and one for the pullet barn on Aug. 9.
The events attracted over 100 attendees, including farmers, processors, food service representatives, poultry specialists and even the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
It was the culmination of a busy year for the family, and now that everything is up and running, Mullet Koop is looking forward to a bit of quiet.
“It’s probably a small project, comparatively speaking, but it was a big one for our family. It was an intense year for us and I have a vineyard too that keeps me busy from April to August and that’s when all the construction took place this year,” he says.
“Right now, it’s quieter and I just appreciate being able to be here with my chickens and my family and no one else.”
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London Poultry ShowWed Apr 05, 2017
Canada's Food Loss and Waste Forum | Finding solutionsWed Apr 12, 2017
Western Meeting of Poultry Clinicians and PathologistsWed May 17, 2017
B.C. Poultry SymposiumThu May 18, 2017
Canadian Meat Council 97th Annual ConferenceMon Jun 05, 2017
Poultry Innovations Conference and BanquetTue Nov 07, 2017