Global Re-Fuel’s warm-air biomass furnace – now in use on a farm in Texas – converts raw poultry litter into energy, providing heat to broiler houses while creating a pathogen-free organic fertilizer.
“A ton of litter has the equivalent energy content of 67 gallons of propane. Extracting that heat and using the ash as fertilizer is a really good situation, which not only helps farmers, but is also beneficial to the environment,” says Glenn Rodes, a farmer who has used the technology on his Virginia poultry farm.
As the number of poultry operations in the U.S. increases, so do the attendant problems. Today, there are more than 110,000 broiler houses in the country, with that number expected to exceed 131,000 by 2024, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) growth projections of the industry.
More than 32 billion pounds of poultry litter were generated in 2015. That number is expected to grow to more than 37 billion pounds per year by 2024, which will exacerbate the soil nutrient overload that contributes to runoff pollution into US waterways.
In addition, poultry farms require a great deal of propane to heat broiler houses, with the average broiler house using about 6,000 gallons of propane each year.
In 2015, more than 8.5 million tons of CO2 were emitted from burning propane to heat broiler houses, and that number is projected to grow to almost 10 million tons by 2024, according to the USDA. Global Re-Fuel’s technology eliminates nearly 100 percent of propane usage, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 70,000 lbs/yr/house.
“The Global Re-Fuel PLF-500 increases farmers’ operating margins, decreases pollution, eliminates propane usage – which reduces CO2 emissions – and improves poultry living conditions,” says Rocky Irvin, a founding member of Global Re-Fuel and a poultry grower for more than 10 years. “It’s good for the family farm and the environment.”
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.
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.
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.
Pathogens that enter a feed mill can be disseminated to other locations, creating the potential for an animal-health issue.
Enforcing a biosecurity plan is necessary to minimize adulterants and produce feed that is safe to distribute. For tips on evaluating a feed mill biosecurity plan. READ MORE
Located 15 minutes northwest of Saskatoon, along Highway 16 near Langham, Ag in Motion features more than 350 exhibitors, 100 acres of test crops and the newest technological advances in farm equipment.
Ag in Motion is one of the only shows in Western Canada that allows farmers to watch equipment in action on the field, says Show Director Rob O'Connor.
"Farmers conduct their business outside in the field. Here's an opportunity to see equipment working, see it outdoors, see the crops growing. Decisions are made in the field and that's really what farmers do," says O'Connor.
Ag in Motion visitors will be among the first to see Dot Technology Corp.'s autonomous DOT Power Platform, which is expected to change farming as we know it.
"I don't think there's been anything that has the potential to change how we practise agriculture more since the GPS was introduced to farming," says O'Connor. "I really think that 20 years from now, how a farmer actually farms will be changed because of this technology."
Among the innovations on display at Ag in Motion are improvements in tires for high horsepower tractors, grain bin fall protection and increased fertilizer absorption.
Test crops by 25 companies will feature many varieties and highlight the effects of combinations of inputs.
Daily seminars in the Agri-Trend Knowledge Tent will feature financial and succession planning and precision ag.
Livestock Central will offer sessions on cattle handling, livestock and forage, a dairy day and fencing demonstrations.
Among the speakers at the expo are Glacier FarmMedia's Director of Markets and Weather Information Bruce Burnett, who will update farmers daily on the latest news, and Jolene Brown, presented by RBC, who will address mistakes that break up family businesses.
Now in its third year, Ag in Motion doubled in size last year and has expanded this year by over 50 new exhibitors. And new this year, onsite internet and cellphone service lets visitors and exhibitors stay connected.
The non-invasive scanning technology – that will identify the gender of day-old eggs before they are incubated – is set to streamline the hatchery process, create new tech-sector jobs and redirect resources previously used to raise male chicks.
Research funded by the Egg Farmers of Ontario through the Agricultural Adaptation Council was conducted at McGill University to bring the concept of gender identification of unhatched eggs to full-scale commercialization. The project is in its second phase. That’s work to fine-tune the scanning system in preparation for a commercial application that would be available for sale to hatcheries in Canada and around the world.
“This is a very sophisticated technology that includes state-of-the-art visioning,” says Tim Nelson, CEO of Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, the group partnering with Egg Farmers of Ontario to bring the technology to market. “There is a tremendous amount of design work that goes into creating this new system that, at full capacity, could scan and identify male and female, and fertile and non-fertile eggs at 50,000 eggs per hour.”
The knowledge that comes from being able to identify the gender of day-old eggs will give hatcheries new information. Female eggs can be incubated for hatching and infertile or male eggs can join the table or processing stream.
“This new technology will offer tremendous new opportunities to Ontario’s hatchery industry,” says Harry Pelissero, general manager of Egg Farmers of Ontario. “Redirecting day-old male eggs opens new market opportunities, and focuses hatchery resources of energy, water and other resources to hatching female eggs. It’s really going to be a game-changer.”
Commercialization of the technology will involve working with established hatchery automation companies, as the new technology requires custom-fitting to each hatchery, and is expected to create up to 30 jobs in Ontario, including visioning system technicians.
“We’ve already had interest and requests from hatcheries around the world that are very excited about the potential of this new technology,” says Pellisero. “We are now moving into testing prototypes in Ontario hatcheries to be sure the accuracy and speed we have in the lab can be achieved at the commercial level. We expect to go to market in 2018 with the first commercial hatchery application.”
This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Animal protection groups argue it definitely is: Birds that are not confined to small wire cages can at least spread their wings and engage in natural behaviors like dust-bathing and perching, even if they never see the light of day.
But egg producers and researchers caution that the switch is not as simple as just opening those cage doors — and that mobility brings with it a new set of concerns for chickens’ welfare that most farmers have never confronted.
A major 2015 study of three different hen-housing systems found that mortality was highest among birds in cage-free aviaries and that they also had more keel bone problems. READ MORE
The project's broader research focus is to determine lighting effects on the mobility, behavior and physiological welfare of poultry by measuring the impact of the various wavelengths of barn lighting.
A&W is providing $45,000 in funding to the University of Saskatchewan's Dr. Karen Schwean-Lardner to expand the data collection on the impacts of energy efficient LED lighting on broiler chicken welfare and production this fall.
They will examine the differences LED lights make on poultry behavior, welfare and health outcomes. Incandescent lighting has been phased out and much less is known about the welfare and behavioral impacts of LED lighting.
"Through our research, we are always looking for ways to improve food quality and production while maintaining high animal care and welfare standards. Partnerships in research like this allow us to find the sustainable caring solutions we need to feed a growing world," says Mary Buhr, dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources.
Dr. Karen Schwean-Lardner is a global leader in poultry barn lighting. Her work is internationally cited and has helped to establish international standards of practice for lighting.
She served as the Chair of the Scientific Committee for the Canadian Poultry Code of Practice, as well as being a member of the Poultry Code Development Committee through the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). NFACC's Code of Practice development process ensures credibility through scientific rigor, stakeholder collaboration and a consistent approach.
"At A&W we are constantly impressed with the leadership work Karen Schwean-Lardner and the University of Saskatchewan are doing in poultry welfare. We are proud to make a financial contribution to this research to allow the research team to further their understanding of LED barn lighting," says Trish Sahlstrom, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, A&W Canada.
Dr. Schwean-Lardner says, "The University of Saskatchewan is committed to research that will continue to reinforce Canada's leadership in poultry welfare. Partners like A&W share a commitment to new research that can contribute to the development of new best practices."
The Cluster, administered by the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC), provides an opportunity for eligible projects to receive federal funding in addition to industry funding.
Researchers are invited to complete and submit our full proposal funding application form during this special call for proposals.
To be considered for funding, research projects must align with the outlined research priorities (see below) and the principal investigator must also work full-time in a Canadian institution or organization.
- Full project proposals will be reviewed and funding decisions made by July 31, 2017
- Projects that receive a positive funding decision will be included in the Poultry Research Cluster submission to Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC) in the Fall of 2017
- Projects approved by AAFC will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018
- Eligible projects must fall under the research priorities listed below in order to be considered
- Research priorities
- Hen behaviour and health in alternative housing systems, including housing system design, management and production practices, and pullet rearing
- End of flock management, including catching, loading and transport, and on-farm depopulation
- Hen health
- Gut health
- Dietary ingredients
- Environment and sustainability
- Production practices and technologies that decrease environmental impact and increase sustainability
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
They are also finding more research needs to be done.
Michelle Hunniford, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph, is researching the nesting behaviour of laying hens.
She has found that new ways of evaluating nesting behaviour are needed.
She told a session at the London Poultry Show that settling behavior, the process hens go through to find and get themselves comfortable to lay an egg, along with egg location should drive cage design evaluation. The speed that a hen gets to that comfort level is correlated to how much pecking it does to establish its space and how long it occupies nesting space.
The University of Guelph re-searchers observed hens through their waking period — lights came on at 5 a.m. — and recorded their behaviour.
They then created graphs that showed a “settled” laying hen moved through its settling phases in more defined periods compared to an “unsettled” layer hen.
In most enhanced systems, the layers have a nesting area, with flooring and a scratch area.
Hunniford and her colleagues looked at what nests would motivate hens to settle in the desired nesting areas.
They found it was difficult to predict which hens would lay where and some hens preferred one system while others chose another.
As a result, one of Hunniford’s recommendations include that providing two smaller nests is more important that providing one large, fully furnished nest. READ MORE
The subject of emission control was addressed at EuroTier, the world’s largest trade fair for animal production, in November 2016. The fair takes place every other year in Hanover, Germany.
“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.”
“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.
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