If you were at this year’s Outdoor Farm Show, then you may have met Jamie Brock, the BIOvator dealer for Eastern Canada. Designed by the Puritone Corporation in Manitoba to handle in-house mortality of hogs, the BIOvator has been specifically created with biosecurity in mind.
Now owned by Shawn Compton, president of Nioex Systems Inc., the BIOvator has been on the market for eight years. In recent months, its on-farm value has really sparked the interest of all manner of producers, including poultry.
The BIOvator is an in-vessel composter that uses an aerobic process to break down biological material. It has a galvanized steel frame, a stainless steel shell and an epoxy-coated steel drum. The drum is insulated with one and a half inches of polyurethane insulation, which works out to an R-value of 8. It is also protected by a stainless steel skin that allows it to be kept outside. It has a one-horsepower motor and two gearboxes, enabling the entire drum to rotate multiple times, 24 hours per day. On average, most machines rotate anywhere from 0 to 24 times per day, depending on the needs of the farmer, how heavy the mortality is on their farm and the model being used.
Although the BIOvator is manufactured in Manitoba, interest in the product is global. There are a few units in North America, but also in Argentina, Russia and parts of Europe.
In order to operate, says Brock, the composter needs to be filled with a substrate. Any type of existing compost will do, but preferably something that can warm up very quickly, like manure with a mixture of wood shavings or some other carbon-based substance. Once the initial mixture reaches 100 F, you can start adding dead stock and using it on a daily basis.
“It heats up under its own microbial breakdown, so it’s micro-organisms building all the heat,” says Brock. “There’s no supplementary heat; it’s just an insulated vessel that has all these microbes feeding on bacteria and that’s what creates heat.”
Brock says the BIOvator can compost anywhere from 30 to 500 pounds of stock per day, depending on the model.
“To make it from the loading zone to the discharge is about 10 days, but as the machine rotates, it allows room for something every day because it’s augering itself down to the discharge end on a slow rotation,” says Brock. “So it’s kind of like a slow-running cement mixer.”
As the BIOvator rotates, a little bit of material is augered out with each rotation, so there’s always new room created for more stock. Each model is loaded with both dead stock and biological material, such as wood shavings or carbon product, at a one-to-one volume ratio.
“If you have a wheelbarrow full of dead stock you would have to put a wheel barrow full of carbon product in as well,” says Brock. And the process is ongoing, he notes.
Each model comes with at least one temperature gage; the goal is to reach and maintain 130 F. “If we can reach 130 F on a consistent basis,” says Brock, “it kills all known pathogens in the dead stock. So that’s where the real biosecurity kicks in.”
Without the BIOvator, poultry producers have a number of other disposal options available to them, but none quite as easy. Farm pickup costs about $150 per ton, plus a $30 pickup fee. Farm pickup also means that the farmer has to handle the dead stock twice. It first has to be moved from the barn to a freezer, and then from the freezer to the road. With the BIOvator, there is no need for a freezer. You simply load it up as needed.
Other methods of disposal can be tricky as well, especially when it comes to biosecurity, says Brock. The stock can be taken to a rendering plant, but farmers will have to bring their vehicles onto the property. At a fee of $150 per ton, it’s not much cheaper than the on-farm pickup, and it’s far less secure because you have the risk of walking through a plant where other trucks have been.
Poultry producers do have the option of burial, which is still legal, but burial poses its own set of problems. Buried stock tends to draw unwanted animals, such as coyotes, plus it is not as safe in terms of biosecurity.
Some producers choose bunker composting where dead stock is stirred into manure and wood shavings using a tractor.
“The pros to that are that it’s reasonably economical,” says Brock. “The cons again are [compromised] biosecurity, because your tractor is handling partially decomposed livestock. So you can contaminate your on-farm tractor and it’s running around doing jobs for you on the farm, so that’s a risk.”
“Most of the pros with the BIOvator come down to biosecurity and the daily cost to run it,” Brock continues. “When you look at strictly the energy use of a BIOvator, it’s basically a hundred bucks a year – and that’s all in hydro.”
In the very near future the BIOvator could save producers even more money. Nioex is trying to team up with a local company to fix the vessel using solar panels. This would further improve biosecurity, as it would allow the composter to be put in a remote, off-site location.
“There’s a lot of interest in it,” says Brock. “I’ve probably had 10 to 15 per cent of my clients ask about it before they even knew we were doing it and that’s what spurred this on.”
Nioex is currently trying to come up with a cost-effective way to make it a suitable option. “I would say in the next 12 months we are working on it to become an option where they can order it with solar,” says Brock.
Production using poultry
Mark McColl, a turkey breeder whose family has been in the industry for 64 years, has had a BIOvator on site since June. Located outside of Forest in Plympton-Wyoming, the farm commercially raises 6,000 breeder turkeys, 7,000 replacement birds and 1,500 toms.
“After having this unit for six months it is hard to see how someone can go without,” says McColl. “Having this system when they are in strict biosecurity like we are, being able to get rid of the dead stock and the eggs without having to worry about digging in a manure pile or going to the incinerator or having the rendering truck show up to your farm makes it worth every penny.”
“Also knowing that there are no emissions coming from it, no fuel going into it, and the final product being pathogen-free, as well as a useful product for our fields, makes it that much better,” he continues.
John Petropoulos, a poultry farmer in the Niagara Peninsula region, agrees. He runs an operation with approximately 20,000 to 24,000 chickens and approximately 12,000 to 15,000 turkeys at a time.
“Before we used an incinerator,” says Petropoulos, “and we had to manage the incinerator more often. You couldn’t put them all in; you had to put them in in different batches. And then once the incinerator was done, ash was a totally non-usable product, so you had to dispose of it any way you could.”
On the other hand, he says, the BIOvator produces a usable product. “You can use it on flowerbed and compost piles, or put it in the fields.” Even his manure removal guys will take BIOvator discharge, whereas they couldn’t put the incineration on manure piles to be taken away.
Petropoulos says that the BIOvator has also helped to lower his farm’s operating costs, since he’s not burning natural gas for the incinerator anymore. “I’m thinking in three to four years it’ll have paid for itself, maybe sooner,” says Petropoulos.
It is possible, as the BIOvator has a recorded lifespan of 25 to 30 years.
This month is an ideal time to talk about managing the heating of chicken and turkey barns, although we really should have been thinking about our heating systems before the coldest time of the year was almost at hand. Many of you may already have updated your heating systems to the latest technologies, but there are others who are still using older ceramic heaters or forced-air furnaces. This article will explain some newer concepts in order to clarify and explain the ways new heaters can improve production and reduce costs.
We need our heating system to be able to maintain a steady temperature of 90-95 C on the coldest days of the year at the floor level without a lot of variation in buildings where bird brooding will be done. Obviously, we have more flexibility in turkey finisher barns or breeder and egg layer buildings that will only ever have large or adult birds in them, but many of the same concepts will carry over as well.
Radiant Heating Concept
Whatever you do, be sure to get some infrared heaters, and preferably, infrared tube heaters. Instead of trying to heat the air and blow it around the building, radiant heaters work by, directly exposing a metal surface to a flame to reach temperatures of up to 1100 F. This results in infrared radiation emission, which can pass through air and only releases heat when absorbed by objects or the floor. A reflector is also installed on the top-side of the tube to send all the infrared radiation toward the floor and away from the ceiling. The effect is exactly the same as if the sun were shining into a vehicle, heating up the interior as the energy is absorbed and released as heat and eventually causing the entire vehicle to rise in temperature.
This is a great way to warm a barn because when forced air or other non-radiant methods of heating are used, a large amount of air has to be heated before the floor of the building begins to be heated. Because hot air rises, the hottest air will always be at the ceiling, and, in turn, the coolest air will always fall to the floor. The end result is that the entire barn needs to be heated before the birds feel any of this heat. Not only that, but the exhaust fans will always be pulling the warmer air out, further exasperating the problem.
How do infrared tube heaters fix this?
Because the heat originates from the floor, with the hottest air at or just above the bird level, set temperatures can be slightly lower as. Additionally, the cool incoming air rolls across the ceiling and descends into the hot air, infusing it with oxygen without causing a measurable temperature drop. Utilizing a tube heater will also generate a uniform floor heat signature, even along the length of the heater. In chicken barns, a straight tube heater is usually adequate with only a slight variation in floor temperatures from end to end of about 10-15 F over 40 feet. In a turkey brooding barn, a U-tube should be used because the temperature variation from end to end of the heater can be further reduced to as little as 1-3 F.
In general, a 30-foot U-tube application is about the longest that should be installed, as the flame length is not long or intense enough to reach the end of a longer tube. But, there are some newer heater styles, such as bidirectional centre-fired units and heaters that use two layer tubes to reduce heat transfer in what would usually be the hottest portion of the tube, and metal baffles to increase heat exposure on the end of the tube that would usually be the coolest.
A steady temperature at bird level isn’t the only benefit, as litter conditions are also improved when using infrared tubes.
Because the litter is the first thing being heated by the floor, the moisture evaporates and subsequently improves the quality of the litter, which makes for better birds.
Another benefit of using infrared tubes over stoves or forced-air heaters is that the oxygen from inside the building is not consumed to produce the flame. Fresh-air intakes are installed, pulling air from the outside of the building or from the attic. The intakes differ from other heaters, which require inside air to be combusted. Thus with the infrared tubes, less ventilation is required to keep oxygen levels high.
Here is where the differences really show: fuel savings. According to the website of Easy Radiant Works, a Canadian infrared heater company: “When conventional forced warm air heaters are replaced with infra-red heaters it is commonplace to achieve fuel savings of 30 per cent - 50 per cent. The New York State Inter-Departmental Fuel and Energy Committee have claimed fuel savings as high as 50 per cent since switching to Radiant Tube Heating. Fuel savings of greater than 50 per cent are not uncommon.”
That’s a pretty convincing argument to make the change, even without the other benefits: Preheating of the barn can be accomplished in a few hours instead of one to two days; bottom-up heating and settings can be reduced by a degree or two. Just sit down and calculate how much you spent over the last couple of years on gas. How quickly could you pay for new heaters and then start profiting from these savings?
Most companies say that payback can be attained in as little as two to three years on an infrared heater, an item that can typically last up to 20 years. Not bad.
Nov. 8, 2012 - Many commercial operations, both small and large, are steadily increasing the amount of automation done by machines and therefore heavily rely on a consistent flow of power. But, when the running of a business depends on electricity, failures and downtime can be extremely expensive.
Nuvolt (www.nuvolt.ca) has created a novel way to detect such failures before they happen, using its SmartScan Pro technology - remote sensors that analyze electrical data in real-time and inform the user of its status and upcoming problems from motors and other electrical devices.
Jacques Dion, the president and CEO of Nuvolt, says that early detection and preventative maintenance of electrical systems are key to any successful operation.
The technology was designed for mass-market use in commercial buildings, assembly lines and tool equipment manufacturing. However, Dion says that he has received a large amount of interest from industry, heavy manufacturing, commercial shipping corporations and most recently, poultry processing plants.
Last month, Nuvolt reached an agreement with Unidindon, the largest turkey processing plant in Canada, to outfit their St-Jean Baptists-de-Rouville, QB plant with SmartScan Pro technology.
"In a chicken plant, the concern is not the value of the motor, it is when the motor goes down and the down-time associated with fixing it," says Dion.
The technology will not only help prevent equipment failure, but also increase production rates and reduce energy costs, all through the constant monitoring and logging of real-time information from each electrical device provided by SmartScan technology, he adds.
"A yellow flag will showcase an upcoming problem on a specific motor, but they do not have to react promptly; it is not a fire, as it is a predictive system. If the situation deteriorates, an orange flag will say that the situation is getting worse and that problem should be fixed. The third warning will show a red flag, which means it will be going down soon."
With a cable or a motor, temperature can rapidly build and cause a fire or even an explosion. Therefore, early detection and prevention is key. According to Dion, while breakers can prevent such an incident, they break at 75 amps (A), when the damage has already been done. "SmartScan Pro technology can detect as low at 200 mA," he says. "Therefore, as soon as the issue starts, the system has the capacity to detect, analyze and inform the end user."
The next stage of development for Nuvolt, says Dion, is to create a smaller sensor, reduce its weight and be able to monitor up to 600 HP motors (current capacity only allows up to a 75 HP motor), as well as branch off into the transportation and aviation industry.
But, the hope is to eventually create a cheap sensor that can be embedded during manufacturing in all sorts of electrical equipment he says, from fridges to water heaters, to help customers monitor and control their electricity usage.
"This way, you could control your energy in your house, so the power company will only charge you for what you use."
Oct. 30, 2012, Levis, QB - Nuvolt Corporation Inc. is pleased to announce the conclusion of a validation agreement with Unidindon, the largest turkey processing plant in Canada.
Mr. Jacques Dion, President and CEO of Nuvolt says, "We are extremely pleased with the decision of Unidindon. We believe that food processing plants, particularly slaughter houses, offer a very high sale potential market for our SmartScan Pro technology in North America."
The SmartScan technology system has the ability to predict an electrical failure on equipment and electrical networks. It could also be used to prevent equipment failures and production downtime on production assembly lines and commercial buildings, as well as reduce the risk of fire. Variations of the technology for the maritime and industrial markets are also available.
Dion added that "food processing plants and slaughter houses are highly automated with a wide variety of motors and a sophisticated electric network in a very difficult environment because of the level of moisture. The SmartScan Pro is the only technology available on the market that could predict a motor or an electrical failure of equipment, thus capable to predict downtime. Our technology is designed for production assembly lines, commercial buildings and tooling equipment."
According to Mr. Martin Rondeau, Vice-President, Olymel Poultry Operations, "Our interest for SmartScan Pro technology is to assess the benefits related to the monitoring and management of our production equipment, but also as a preventive maintenance tool to improve the performance of our processing plants."
The Unidindon plant at St-Jean Baptiste-de-Rouville, Quebec, employs over 400 persons and has been owned jointly by Olymel (68 per cent) and Exceldor (32 per cent) since 1996. The largest turkey industry facility in Canada, Unidindon has an annual slaughtering capacity of some 5 million birds. The live turkeys are supplied mainly from Quebec and the Maritimes.
For more information on Nuvolt and its SmartScan technology, please visit their website at http://www.agrivolt.com/.
Alternative production systems for hens compared with caged housing present both egg marketing opportunities and challenges to management.1 And while many studies have addressed the equipment, behavior, welfare and stressors on birds in alternative production settings vs. cages, little has been reported about the impact of these systems on the nutritional requirements of the hen.
Aviary – Although there were no nutritional treatments applied, a study comparing aviary vs. battery cage housing indicated alternative nutritional parameters might be warranted.2,3 Aviary hens were significantly lighter than those in cages (2021 vs. 2241g), despite having consumed more feed (121 vs. 116g/bird/day) and having a higher feed conversion ratio (FCR). Caged hens also had poorer feather cover (39 per cent of caged hens had denuded areas (5cm2)] vs. 32 per cent among aviary hens. No difference in tibia breaking strength was measured between the two housing systems in these studies.
Production and egg parameters were also evaluated among aviary hens fed either mash or crumbled diets with the same nutrient composition.4 Birds fed the mash diet had a higher FCR and energy consumption than those fed crumbs. Hens fed the crumbs had greater body weight, egg weight and egg mass than those fed mash. These parameters indicated better performance on the higher density crumble diet compared to mash. The same dietary strategies with greater nutrient density may be advantageous for commercial birds housed in aviary settings.
Floor – Because of the greater initial investment required for aviaries and furnished cage systems, most non-cage eggs are produced in floor systems in the United States.5
In a field study comparing three types of layer housing including high-rise (HR), manure-belt (MB), and cage-free floor-raised (FR), air temperature, RH, CO2, and atmospheric NH3 under winter and summer conditions in Iowa were monitored.6 Under winter conditions, the HR and MB houses had more comfortable temperatures (mean 24.6 and 20.6 C, or 76.3 and 69.1 F) and NH3 levels (9 to 24 ppm of NH3, respectively) than the FR houses (mean 15.5 C, or 59.9 F and maximum 85 to 89 ppm of NH3, respectively). The FR house temperature varied more with outside winter conditions. In summer the FR house showed the least increase above ambient conditions (mean 0.3 C) compared to a 4.7 and 1.2 C increase for the MB and HR houses, respectively. Ammonia levels were similar for all housing types during summer conditions (mean 3 to 9 ppm).
Birds housed in alternative floor systems and birds with access to pasture demonstrate significantly greater activity including running and flying. Most often these birds are placed at lower densities per cubic foot or meter than birds in cage systems that are stacked in multiple decks. This results in lower heat production (HP) per unit area and presents the potential for lower house temperatures in cooler climates. To maintain hen body temperature this will require either greater feed consumption or fuel to heat the building so the hen can maintain thermal balance. Taken independently or together both activity and lower housing density can require greater calories per hen per day than hens houses in battery cages.
Colder environmental temperatures are a reality in floor systems without supplemental heat in the winter and when bird density does not maintain house temperatures. In studies evaluating dietary wheat middling for floor layers, the low energy levels of some diets could not maintain production despite great feed consumption in December and January when temperatures averaged only 11 and 15 F.7 Hens fed diets with 89 per cent middlings, had an average feed intake of 136g/hen/day and feed conversion of 4.03 kg/doz eggs over twelve 28-day periods. Today, many floor layers are housed in heated barns, but often additional dietary measures are required to optimize hen performance.8 Elliot (2012) indicated higher density diets including protein, amino acids and energy are necessary for brown layers to get equivalent performance as hens housed in cages.9 Energy density is typically increased by 20kcal/lb in winter for floor layers, and can increase to 30, 40 or even 50kcal/lb if house temperatures cannot be maintained.10
Layers on litter floors fed wheat based diets with access to course wood shavings showed up to 60 per cent greater weight of the gizzard and its contents than caged layers fed the same diets without access to wood shavings.11 No such affect was observed when feeding oat based diets. This indicated the appetite for wood shavings may be dependent on fiber level in the diet. In a second experiment the hens’ appetite for wood shavings and paper was examined for birds fed wheat or oat based diets. Neither the paper or wood affected hen performance. However, the intake of wood shavings or paper by birds fed the wheat-based diet was twice as high as birds fed oat-based diets, and neutral detergent fiber in the gizzard was also elevated compared to birds fed only wheat. Furthermore, birds fed the wheat diet consumed almost twice the amount of wood shavings than those fed the oat diet. In their final study, birds fed a high-fiber diet and a diet containing coarsely ground oat hulls had a negligible amount of feathers in their gizzards compared to hens fed a low-fiber diet and one with finely ground oat hulls. The authors indicated that feather-pecking behavior may be partly related to the feed structure and consistency.
Pasture – In the U.S. pastured hens eggs often sell at a premium price with the claim of enhanced nutritional and health benefits from the eggs. The effect of alfalfa, clover and grass pastures on egg production and composition was examined and compared to sister hens housed in cages.12 In a cross over design three groups of 75 (Hy-Line brown) hens rotated to one of three pastures treatments for 2-week periods and were provided 70g/hen/day commercial hen mash (16.9 per cent CP, 2863 kcal/kg) and were expected to forage for the remainder of their nutritional requirements. Fifty sister hens housed in cages (60in2/bird) were offered the same mash ad libitum (averaging 113g/hen/day intake). At the end of the study body weight was not significantly different between the pasture treatments, but significantly less than hens in the cages (1571 vs. 1821g). Similarly egg production was not maintained by hens on the pasture averaging 72 per cent vs. 85 per cent for hens housed in the cages. It was estimated the pastured hens derived approximately 13.2 per cent of their energy requirement (36 kcal ME) and 21.5 per cent of their CP needs (3.9g) from pasture foraging. However, pastured hens were still lacking dietary protein and energy (2.3g and 35 kcal) on a daily basis to match the caged hens. The authors of the study believe an additional 13g of mash per hen per day would be required to sustain egg production and body weight equal to that of the caged hens. Despite greater linolenic acid in the pasture clover and alfalfa compared to the grass, there were no significant differences in egg linolenic acid levels. When compared to the eggs from caged hens, eggs from pastured hens had greater egg yolk omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and E. However, these nutrients can readily be supplemented in the hens diet to derive the same egg levels as pasture treatments for less money.13-16 The authors concluded that if additional mash was provided to pastured hens to maintain hen welfare, body weight and egg production, this would undoubtedly mute the changes in egg composition observed herein.
The nutritional composition of eggs from hens housed in cages vs. sister hens in range paddocks established with bermudagrass, fescue and clover was similarly compared in another study.17 Supplemental feeds for all hens were provided ad libitum in a phase program from 17-82 weeks of age. Eggs from the cage environment had significantly more total fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat than eggs produced by caged hens. Levels of omega-3 fatty acids were also significantly higher (0.17 per cent vs. 0.14 per cent) in range eggs vs. cage eggs. There was no difference in egg cholesterol, vitamin A or E levels between eggs from the different management systems. Hen body weight was similar at the conclusion of the study (1970g range vs. 2000g caged), egg weight, mass and production were all lower for the range birds and while feed consumption was greater in cages (103 vs. 101g) this indicated little reliance on pasture for the hens’ nutritional requirements.18 Finally egg income minus feed costs was lower for the range treatment ($18.07 vs. 23.70/hen) and labor to care for them was more than 15 times greater than hens housed in cages. The author concluded that no significant nutritional advantage of eggs produced by range hens over hens maintained in cages could be established.
Enriched Cage – In a study to examine the effects of dietary energy on egg production and quality of hens kept in conventional (3/cage) or furnished cages (8/cage), it was determined that higher energy levels improved egg production, reduced feed consumption and improve feed conversion, but there were no interactions with housing type.19 Housing type had no impact on production parameters, and the authors concluded that like previous studies cage type had no impact on egg production or feed conversion ratios.
Several studies have shown a greater incidence of cracked eggs in furnished than in conventional cages. Because hens kept in furnished cages often have greater bone strength, they may lay eggs with weaker shells because the calcium is utilized for bone mineralization. In a similar trial, the effects of added dietary calcium for hens in 3/cage conventional and 8/cage enriched cages.20 Normal calcium was 37-40g/kg diet, and 44-50g/kg diet in the supplemented diets. Dietary calcium had similar effects in both cage systems. Greater limestone increased the laying rate, with no effects on egg quality, specific gravity, or tibia-breaking strength. Based on this study the weakening of eggshells in furnished cages is not caused by a possible calcium shortage resulting from high bone mineralization.
Two studies looking at the influence of conventional (CC) and enriched cages on nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus balance recorded greater feed intake in the CC (95.0 vs. 92.5g/hen/day).21,22 However, this did not result in any greater body weight, egg production, egg weight or mass. In the end manure and egg nitrogen output was not significantly different between hen housing treatments. With greater feed intake, CC hens did have both greater manure calcium and phosphorus excretion compared to hens from enriched cages. Deposition of egg shell calcium (g/hen/day) was also greater in CC vs. enriched cages, but there was no impact on eggshell P deposition or absolute P balance (average -48.3mg/hen/day).
Bird Health – Decreased egg production, egg drop syndrome and cannibalism in free-range flocks in the UK was reported as early as 1986 by Swarbrick.23 A more recent survey of birds raised in alternative systems reported the greatest mortality in the litter and free-range systems compared to conventional cages. Bacterial infections caused the greatest mortality in birds raised on litter and included erysipelas, colibacillosis and pasteurellosis.24 Greater mortality with viral diseases (lymphoid leukosis, Marek’s disease and Newcastle) coccidiosis and red mites was also associated with litter and free-range hens. Many of these diseases and ectoparasites are a result of contact with wild birds and animals that can bring them to domestic poultry with outdoor access. Furthermore, these birds are at risk of predation. Other infections of layers result from direct contact with soil, litter and fomotes (rodents, beetles and equipment) known to carry disease.25
Another study evaluated the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth (DE) as a feed additive to treat for parasites and to increase feed efficiency and egg production in brown organic free-range layers.26 Bovan brown hens fed the DE had significantly lower Capillaria, slightly lower Eimeria and fewer birds with Heterakis. Hens fed the DE were significantly heavier, laid more eggs and consumed more feed that the control hens. Furthermore, dusting with DE reduced mite numbers. Two additional studies both indicated hens in aviary, and enriched cage systems can be plagued by Red mites that might benefit from diatomaceous earth added to the feed.27,28 And finally, according to Sossidou et al. (2011) a high incidence of bone breakage in free range flocks represents a serious issue which compromises welfare benefits one might anticipate.29
This article was presented at the 2012 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention. References are available by request and online at www.canadianpoultrymag.com
With a show of hands, about half of those listening to the presentation in Jake Kraayenbrink’s back 40 near Moorefield, Ont., confessed to having a smartphone of some sort.
That means that half of the crowd at that manure management demonstration would instantly be able to pinpoint their location at that particular moment, in that particular field, using the global positioning system (GPS) feature on their smartphone. It also means that they may be only a step away from utilizing precision agriculture to manage their manure.
But what exactly is precision agriculture?
Simply put, it is farming by the inch instead of the acre. It is achieved by using satellite and sensor data in conjunction with computer software to map and manage field data and to generate distinct records for every field of the farm. The goal is to better manage resources.
The most common tool to achieve this is GPS technology, used on field equipment to accurately steer and control applications based on the position of the equipment in the field. Every operation done by the equipment can be mapped and managed as a business management tool.
“It’s pretty cool technology,” Larry Prong, GPS specialist with Premier Equipment in Elmira, Ont., told farmers. “It’s starting to become the norm to sell GPS equipment with new tractors.”
Precision agriculture components typically include a GPS receiver, an in-cab computer display, machine controls for guidance (commonly known as autosteer systems), spray controllers, rate controllers for dry box spreaders and flow meters for manure tankers. Other components may include field scouting devices and desktop geographic information systems (GIS) for data management.
But does precision agriculture technology have an application in manure management?
“Yes,” said Prong. “That’s the purpose of precision agriculture: getting more exact with our field operations and gaining the efficiencies through that.”
Using precision agriculture technology and tools can increase manure placement accuracy and application rates, but then the data can be sent back to the office to map your fields and help to keep good records as well.
When it comes to manure application, the placement accuracy you are looking for is probably six to eight inches, explained Prong. That’s good enough to make sure you don’t have any big skips as you move up and down the field, but make sure that at the same time you are not getting a lot of overlap.
One good example of where GPS accuracy would come into play in nutrient management would be side-dressing liquid manure into standing corn: it’s tricky and there is not a lot of room for error. Corn planted with high accuracy will have bullet-straight rows but, more importantly, you can go back exactly into same wheel track within one inch six or eight weeks later.
It's Just Manure
Some people may say, “But it is just manure, why do we have to record all that data?
As your commercial fertilizer costs go up manure becomes liquid gold, said Prong, and there is tremendous value to what you’re putting on the land. If you’re going to take the time to work with an agronomist, you are expecting a certain yield from your ground and precision agriculture is just another piece of the puzzle.
Another side of the coin is that, unfortunately, manure is regarded as hazardous material. After the Walkerton incident, we need to know where it’s going down as well as setbacks from wellheads and waterways, said Prong. Every time you use a GPS system it provides an audit trail: this is how much I put down and this is where I put it down.
How Much Is Enough?
One of the key pieces of information is the amount of manure you’re putting down, which involves measuring not only amounts but also application rates. This is where a rate controller can be useful.
For solid manure, a rate controller gives you the ability to measure load size under a dry spreader box, measuring change in weight to calculate the application rate. A hydraulic gate valve can then help regulate the amounts going on the field.
Prong said liquid manure measurement requires the use of a flow meter, a common feature nowadays that will measure liquid manure application in gallons per minute from the tanker.
“That’s important in injected manure where you can’t see what’s going in the ground,” he said. “It’s amazing how a change in ground speed can spike your application rates.”
For example, at four miles per hour with a 2,500-gallon-per-acre target flow, 300 gallons per minute will be applied. Keeping the same flow but dropping to three miles per hour, that application rate will now be 3,300 gallons per acre. That’s a 30 per cent increase in application rate just by slowing down, and that decrease in speed can be caused by something as simple as going up a hill.
Premier Equipment has developed a creative solution that integrates an application rate control system with the IVT transmission of many John Deere tractors. As Prong explained, their rate controller actively adjusts the transmission of the tractor to maintain a consistent ground speed, which is highly critical in a dragline scenario for maintaining a consistent application rate.
In precision agriculture, as the technology is used, maps of your fields are created, allowing you to define and record not only where you’re putting down manure but how much you’re putting down. When you need to calculate how much commercial fertilizer to use above and beyond just manure, you’ll have accurate data. “That’s a plus for nutrient management,” said Prong.
Whether you have a GPS in your tractor, carry it in the phone on your belt or take it out on the four-wheeler to chart your fields, you’ll still need software to process and organize the data. The records from the field will also need to be stored and accessible, as you will need to go back and analyze that information over time, both in the short term and over several years.
A number of software products are available, and even more are still in development. Farm Works software has released the Connected Farm app, which runs on iPhones and Android smartphones and allows field scouting with a GPS-enabled smartphone.
Data can be transferred from the tractor using a memory stick, but when you use wireless technology, that transfer can be done while out in the field. As soon as the manure is put down, the data can be sent wirelessly to the office desktop computer and the software will automatically recognize and file it, including the geographical locations in the field.
“Quite a few people haven’t gotten there yet – they’re physically moving their data from the tractor to the desktop, but I think this is the next step in precision agriculture,” said Prong.
Looking to the future, he predicts that the next advancements will be in wireless transmission and software improvements.
Oct. 16, 2012 - Ziggity Systems Inc. has made it easy for producers purchasing any one of its poultry watering systems to register for their warranty online at Ziggity.com.
Customers just need to open the drop-down menu under the "Support" tab and click on "Warranty Registration." There is a simple form to fill out that includes the type of watering system and kind of poultry being served.
The warranty document is also available for review along with an informational update on the corrosive use of chemicals with the watering system.
"In the everyday busyness of poultry operations, sending in your warranty registration is a detail that's easy to overlook. So we've made it easy for our customers to just pop online to give us their contact and system information," said the company.
"A watering system is a key investment, and we urge all of our customers to make use of this resource to make sure that investment is properly protected."
For more information on Ziggity Systems Inc., please visit www.ziggity.com.
Oct. 4, 2012 - The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, Vancouver Humane Society and the World Society for the Protection of Animals have joined together and created a new quarterly newsletter to share their collective opposition of cages for laying hens and gestation crates for sows.
The first issue of the newsletter, released on October 4, 2012, entitled "Farm Animal Welfare in Canada," highlights the initiatives that will be a focus by all three groups, which include:
- urging egg producers in Canada to switch to cage-free, not just colony-type housing;
- ensuring the Canadian egg industry and food retailers continue to meet globally recognized hen welfare standards;
- calling for a transition to group housing for sows by 2017, and for this to become part of the new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs.
For more information and to view the complete first issue of Farm Animal Welfare in Canada, please visit the website here.
Sept. 21, 2012, Calgary, AB - Canada's Economic Action Plan is helping an Alberta meat processing company expand their operations and increase sales. Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and MP for Calgary East, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced an investment to BHJ Canada Meat Products Inc., towards the purchase and installation of new equipment and technology at their facility in Calgary.
"Our Government is helping Alberta meat processors become more profitable and competitive because the economy is our number one priority," said MP Obhrai. "This investment will help BHJ Canada Meat Products Inc. expand their operations and increase domestic and export sales, helping to strengthen our economy for the future."
BHJ is a processing company that supplies materials from various Alberta beef, pork and poultry producers to the pet food industry in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. The new equipment will help BHJ increase their competitiveness, production capacity and sales.
The project will benefit farmers through an increased demand by BHJ for meat and poultry products, and it will also support the creation of new jobs. The equipment also provides a value-added option for products that currently go unused.
"This investment was key to our expansion," noted Rod Deibert, President of BHJ Canada. "It enabled us to pursue a project that enhances our core business and expands our processing capacity from a range of suppliers within our industry."
This repayable contribution of $1 million is being delivered by the Agricultural Flexibility Fund through the AgriProcessing Initiative, a five-year, $50 million initiative designed to enhance the competitiveness of the agri-processing sector in Canada. It provides support to existing companies for projects that involve the adoption of innovative and new-to-company manufacturing technologies and processes that are essential to sustaining and improving the sector's position in today's global marketplace. For more information on this program, visit www.agr.gc.ca/api.
In my time working with Canadian poultry producers – even recently – I have noticed that many smart growers, who could make great use of more production feedback, have not taken advantage of the newest technologies available in climate controllers. The purpose of this article is to provide some information on what these controllers are capable of, and how you can use them to produce birds using fewer resources and proactively affect your birds’ health and growth.
In the extremely competitive marketplace of the United States, I have learned that their poultry companies are a great model for finding ways to lower costs. Because of the sheer size of companies such as Tyson Foods, Inc. (37 million head/week at 5.6 lbs)1, Pilgrim’s Pride (32 million head/week at 5.3 lbs) and Sanderson Farms (8.4 million head/week at 7.5 lbs), very small changes in per farm, per house or per head costs can make a huge difference. For instance, if a vaccine costs $0.005, or half a cent, less per bird, a company like Tyson Foods can save $9,620,000. Shipping birds a day or two early because of improved performance can be a huge cost savings as well. What is the cost at 35 or 42 days of age to run all of your fans, lights and other equipment in the summer, or heaters in the coldest part of the winter for an extra day?
Because of this, these companies analyze every decision, from insulation to equipment to feed pellet size, with extreme attention to detail. Each company has come up with minimum standards for their facilities that include a whole house controller. Tyson Foods has used Cumberland controls in many of their complexes, and Sanderson Farms has made Rotem controls standard in all new building projects. Here are some reasons why:
Almost all of the current models available for the leading controller companies, including Rotem and Chore-Time, fully integrate the function of all components of climate control into a single unit, eliminating the need to program and co-ordinate several smaller controls. With this ability, tighter temperature bands can be maintained, with some controls able to regulate the temperature within a band of ±1⁰C, which is especially important when brooding.
The advantage of having inlet and fan function within the same unit is in having three or four types of inlets available to the same controller, which can be transitioned through and controlled by static pressure as different fans are activated.
This is a complex concept, so it is enough to understand that being able to smoothly transition from one type of inlet to another as the outdoor temperature changes throughout the day can save a significant amount of heating cost. For example, this can be accomplished by bringing air in from ceiling inlets during the day when the attic air is warm.
Individual heaters can be monitored and controlled in combination with inlet control, with some controls capable of handling up to 16 zones for great uniformity along the length and width of the barn.
A bonus in this setup comes from the more advanced controller’s rotation of fans, which can greatly extend fan life by utilizing all available fans, and therefore not repeatedly stopping and starting the same fan every cycle. Circulation fans can also be run at varying speeds based on house conditions. If someone really wanted to make the most of their controller, humidity and CO2 could also be included in the ramping of ventilation.
Data Tracking, Alarm Functions, Remote Control and Service
Obviously, heating and ventilation savings are a huge factor in payback on these computers, but some of the tools that allow users to track, analyze and manage those aspects are key.
Using your controller to collect heater run-time data (to find faulty heaters or air leaks), temperature and humidity logs by zone (including outside), feed and water consumption, bird weights from attached scales, mortality, and many other statistics can make all the difference in diagnosing and fixing problems that may not be immediately apparent by walking the barn.
The next part is alarm function. There are a few well-known alarm systems, such as the Thevco Agri-Alert systems and Sensaphone basic alarms. However, Thevco also produces a system called the A-box, Chore-Time has C-Central and Rotem has a combination alarm/data collection device called a communicator that ties into a software system called RotemNet.
Some of these have greater flexibility than others, but all allow for a quick response to emergency situations, remotely or in person, to prevent some of the costly scenarios at the beginning of this article. Also, some fail-safes and backup systems can be pre-programmed in. A couple of great examples of this would be an auger run-time monitor to stop the feed auger and send a specific alarm message out when the run time exceeds a preset time. Now you know if there is bridged feed in the bin, empty bins or a feed spill. In the case of a power failure, it could automatically drop the curtain or inlet to a set level and run fans on backup power to prevent bird loss.
Great service is something all equipment manufacturers, distributors and your local sales representatives want to provide. Utilizing some of these data-tracking and alarm systems can give your equipment and service providers a direct line to your controller from a remote location and provide you with premium technical service, even when they can’t be there immediately. For processors and feed suppliers, online tracking of feed inventory and bird weight can increase efficiency considerably by streamlining feed delivery and ensure birds are shipped to the plant at the right time and weight.
It is impossible in a limited forum such as this to fully explain all of the benefits of integrating all of the barn functions into a single interface. It is in everyone’s best interest to investigate the options on your own, or consult with trusted equipment professional. Learning the ins and outs of a new system can be very exciting and eye opening; just ask someone who’s already made the jump. Would you rather shovel a few hundred dollars in spilled feed out the end door, or sit down for a couple of hours with your equipment supplier learning about your new controller?
1 Watt PoultryUSA survey, 2012
The use of smartphones in agriculture is gaining ground. This is the finding of a recent survey conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
The study found that 69 per cent of those surveyed reported having a smartphone, with BlackBerry being the most popular type. This is a significant increase in usage when compared to data released by Farm Credit Canada (FCC) last November, which found that only 29 per cent of Canadian farmers reported having a smartphone. However, the FCC study asked farmers who did not currently own a smartphone whether or not they would purchase one within the next year, and 50 per cent of respondents said that they would.
Half of the respondents in the OMAFRA study reported that their smartphone is essential to how they do business, with accessing e-mail, messaging and the Internet the most popular applications.
The use of social media is also becoming more popular. The OMAFRA survey cited Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as the three most popular sites used, and sharing information, networking and sales as the three most common reasons those in the agricultural industry use social media for their businesses.
Let’s focus on sharing information. If the survey was to be repeated in the coming years, this area is where I would like to see continued growth, particularly when it comes to sharing information with those who are not involved in agriculture.
The OMAFRA survey showed that Twitter was the most popular social media app, with 47 per cent of smartphone users indicating they used it for agriculture-related purposes. This has been evident in the past six months; for example, those currently using Twitter will no doubt have noticed an increase in the sharing of planting, harvesting and commodity market information from producers and industry partners across the country.
But the biggest benefit producers can reap from Twitter, in my opinion, is the ability to monitor the types of negative messages that the agricultural industry is increasingly having to deal with.
A great example of the power of Twitter came in mid-August, when a study released in the Journal of Atherosclerosis by University of Western Ontario neurologist Dr. J. David Spence made big headlines by likening eating eggs to being as bad for a person as smoking cigarettes. This made for great fodder for newspapers and media outlets in North America, who ran away with the study without really delving into the fact that on a scientific basis, the study made a link that had no statistical merit.
The scrutiny and backlash was fast and furious – bloggers and tweeters were quick to pounce on how the study was performed, pointing out its weaknesses. I heard the report on CBC while driving in to work that morning, and by the time I booted up my computer and went on Twitter the faults of the study were being shared among followers, and what could have been a major setback for the egg industry essentially became a non-story by the end of the day.
For those using Twitter on your smartphones, or just thinking about it, remember to share information not only with each other, but also with those who don’t understand what you do – it’s an opportunity to educate, engage, and most importantly, monitor what could be detrimental to your business and industry.
Sept. 6, 2012, Middlebury, IN - Ziggity Systems Inc. has new 2012 Management Procedures literature available on its website that features revised language and illustrations that “’better communicates how to conduct procedures critical for the best use of our watering systems,” said the manufacturer of poultry watering systems.
The management sheets covers Ziggity’s T-Max systems for adult turkeys, the Activator System for turkey poults (formerly known as “Big Z Activator”), and floor systems for broilers.
“As we actively work with growers in the field, we realized that we could make the producer’s work a little easier with some new language and illustrations that make the procedures more instantly clear and easier to remember.”
As a company solely dedicated to the manufacture of poultry watering systems, Ziggity spends a good amount of time in the field testing and evaluating how well its various drinker systems work with different poultry operations. “We are continuously assessing how our products, and the people who use them, actually work in the field,” said the company. “We are continuously trying to fine-tune our watering systems and procedures to make them simpler and more helpful to producers. These latest updates are a product of that effort. Much of the time, it’s just a tweak here or there. But we try to give our customers the best help possible.”
Ziggity encourages producers to download its updated management procedures sheets at www.ziggity.com by clicking on literature downloads under the Products tab, or by clicking here.
About Ziggity Systems, Inc.
Ziggity Systems, Inc. is the only manufacturer 100 percent focused on poultry watering for improved performance. For more information, call +1 574.825.5849, fax +1 574.825.7674, or visit its Web site at www.ziggity.com.
Aug. 8, 2012 - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed some new rules for poultry producers: increase the speed of the lines by 25 per cent and decrease the number of inspectors.
According to an article from The Columbus Dispatch, the USDA wants inspectors to focus on issues that pose the greatest risk to consumers, such as from pathogens like salmonella and campylobacter. However, food safety groups contest that it will open the door for an increase of contamination by fecal matter and create a conflict of interest within the plant.
The USDA has not made a decision on the proposal, and the changes are expected to be voluntary (though experts believe most will opt-in in order to stay competative).
For more information on the proposed changes, as well as what it could mean to suppliers, please see The Columbus Dispatch.
Jul. 19, 2012, Woodstock, ON - Weeden Environments, a leader in innovative poultry equipment, has announced that the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has issued a key patent covering the concept of using Sprinkler Systems for cooling poultry and promoting physical activity.
Patent App Serial No. 2,692,900 entitled "System and Method for Cooling and Promoting Physical Activity of Poultry” was issued on July 3, 2012.
“We are extremely pleased that the CIPO has issued this significant patent covering our Sprinkler System," said Kevin Weeden, President of Weeden Environments. "We believe that the issuance of this patent further strengthens our position as a leader in providing new technology to the poultry industry.”
The Weeden Sprinkler System is used for cooling, activity promotion and dust control.
In times of extreme heat, chickens and turkeys will sit down, pant and are in danger of heat prostration mortality. When the Weeden Sprinkler is activated, water droplets fall onto the birds causing them to stand up and release the captured heat underneath. This heat rises and is removed by the fans. Customers have found this drastically reduces heat related mortality.
Using the same concept for activity promotion, the birds will get up and migrate to feed and water each time it’s activated. Customers have noticed weight gain when activity promotion is turned on. While promoting activity, the Weeden Sprinkler System also reduces particulate matter (dust) levels creating an improved environment for both the birds and the workers.
To see a video of Weeden Environments sprinkler system, click here.
About Weeden Environments
Weeden Environments is a global leader in providing new technology in products & equipment designed for the poultry and livestock industry to lower stress levels while improving performance and productivity. Weeden Environments is located just north of Woodstock, Ontario Canada.
Jul. 12, 2012 - Healthy Farm, one of the leading producers of high quality food products in Russia, has recently invested in the first Meyn-Ishida poultry processing solution in the Ural region. With a total capacity of two 6,000 birds per hour processing lines Healthy Farm doubles her current production capacity to 152,000 birds per day. This increased capacity in combination with a state-of-the-art multihead weighing and batching line will allow Healthy Farm to further strengthen their market position. Healthy Farm was previously known as Ural Broiler.
Meyn will install a complete new processing line and will also extend the existing line installed by Meyn in 2009. The new universal multihead weighing & batching line from Ishida will provide a sophisticated solution for all steps in the packaging process. Healthy Farm's CEO Mr Evgeny Sergeevich Narukov: "With previous Meyn projects, we already dramatically reduced labour costs and increased the quality of our final product. Now with Meyn-Ishida we will also be reducing our give-away and increase product reliability considerably." At the moment, Healthy Farm is building additional housing capacity. The renewed high-tech plant will be running by the end of 2012.
Healthy Farm manages its own broiler breeding facility and parent stock and is market leader in the Ural region. With the new name, Healthy Farm emphasises its high ecological compatibility of products and sustainable perspective in doing business. Consumers can find Healthy Farm products in retailer chains, supermarkets, smaller food shops as well as in Healthy Farms own sales points. Besides the Ural region, Healthy Farm also focuses on the Siberian region of Russia. With this investment, Healthy Farm anticipates to future growth, with export as one of her long-term goals.
Meyn-Ishida combines the highly sophisticated expertise of Meyn in poultry processing, with the unique know-how and experience in weighing, grading and end-of-line equipment from Ishida to offer a full range of wall-to-wall solutions. The strategic alliance has already been awarded several high value international contracts, including fully integrated plants in
Saudi Arabia (Almarai), Russia (Miratorg, Valujki, Tambov), Chile (Ariztia) and Poland (Wipasz).
About Meyn Food Processing Technology B.V.
Meyn Food Processing Technology B.V. is the reliable and committed partner of renowned poultry processing companies in over 90 countries worldwide. Meyn is widely recognised for its ability to support its customers in their ambition for higher capacity and increased yield and efficiency. Meyn’s equipment has proven to maintain its high-level performance under a wide variety of line speeds and bird sizes, allowing its customers to achieve top-level productivity with an absolute minimum of labour.
About Ishida Europe Ltd.
Ishida Europe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ishida Co., Ltd, Kyoto, Japan and is the largest manufacturer of the company’s range of industrial weighing and packaging machines outside of Japan. With a worldwide base of over 80,000 installations, Ishida is recognised as a world leader in the design, manufacture and installation of complete weighing and packaging systems. In addition to its heritage in weighing and packaging, Ishida Europe has also developed its own range of classleading upstream/downstream products that help customers pack a wide cross-section of food and non-food items into bags, trays and cartons. Ishida Europe Ltd. has its headquarters in Birmingham, UK. For further information about the Meyn-Ishida alliance: www.meyn-ishida.com
Jul. 11, 2012, Charlotte, NC - A new series of radiant tube brooders designed to yield an extra wide, rectangular heat pattern for poultry houses has been introduced by Space-Ray of Charlotte, N.C. Marketed under the name BIG FOOT, the new brooder provides one of the largest rectangular shaped heating footprints available for modern poultry applications.
Available in natural or propane gas, the new PBF Series from Space-Ray saves on fuel costs, reduces maintenance and permits higher mounting in the poultry house for broader coverage and added efficiency. The reflector angle of the BIG FOOT radiant tube brooder is engineered to an optimum angle of 19º which improves the radiant footprint and minimizes convective wash. The result is a more uniform heat distribution, better brooding conditions, and more comfort for the birds.
Space-Ray Big Foot Heaters use positive pressure to push products of combustion through the heavy-duty calorized aluminized steel combustion chamber. Calorized tube material offers improved corrosion resistance and greater radiant output.
Each of the heaters come with a choice of one-stage or two-stage input controls for added flexibility and a totally enclosed burner box that places all the power, thermostat and gas connections in one central location for easier installation and maintenance.
The CSA-Certified BIG FOOT radiant tube brooder series is available in four sizes from 60,000 BTU/hr (18 kW/hr) to 90,000 BTU/hr (26 kW/hr). The most popular size is the 80,000 BTU/Hr. (23.5 kW/Hr) version. The Big Foot is also available in either “U” shaped tube or straight tube versions. The standard emitter tube length is 20 ft (6.1 m), while the overall length for the “U” tube version is 11½ ft. (3.5 m) and the straight version is 21½ ft (6.6 m).
Each unit is pre-assembled for easy installation and comes with fresh air intake kit, exhaust hood, stainless steel flexible gas connector and a pre wired electrical connection. Additionally, each unit offers a 3-year limited warranty on the complete emitter assembly.
Unique TISS System
Unique to Space-Ray is the patented TISS system that automatically turns off the heater in the unlikely event of a tube failure. With the TISS system, an insulated aluminum wire is positioned in tension above the reflector. A low voltage circuit continuously monitors the clearance between the reflectors and the ceiling for excessive heat and tube integrity compromise. If the heat increases due to heat exchanger failure, the wire melts, the safety circuit is broken and the brooder shuts down.
“We decided if we introduced a positive pressure system to poultry houses, we would take steps to assure the integrity of the system and provide the ultimate in safety” noted Wilf Jackson, Sales Director for Space-Ray. “…we wanted a system that was safer than any other model on the market today. The TISS provides peace of mind. It may never be needed but in the unlikely event of a tube failure poultry house owners will be pleased that they have a TISS system.”
Designers of the original radiant gas brooder in 1958, Space-Ray brooders have withstood the test of time. Beside the new BIG FOOT tube brooder, Space-Ray also offers an energy efficient line of spark ignition radiant brooders, a line of single jet brooders and a complete line of both pull through (negative pressure) and push through (positive pressure) tube-type gas heaters for poultry applications.
Unlike space heaters that work from the top down heating the air and the upper areas of the poultry house before stratifying down to heat the birds, Space-Ray’s radiant gas tube heaters operate using the same principles as the sun’s rays. They deliver radiant warmth directly to the floor and litter area where it is needed most. The first U.S. manufacturer to design unitized tube heaters, Space-Ray has over 50 years of field experience and exposure to a variety of heating problems. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Space-Ray also has a facility located in Ipswich, England.
June 20, 2012, Vancouver, BC - The British Columbia Egg Marketing Board is using IBM analytics to save money, reduce workload, improve farmers' profitability and ensure the safety and availability of the more than 816 million eggs produced in the province each year.
The BC Egg Marketing Board is responsible for planning and controlling BC's egg production, to ensure supply meets fluctuating demand. The Board works with more than 130 egg producers, overseeing 2.7 million chickens.
Using analytics from IBM, the BC Egg Marketing Board is now able to integrate and analyze production and inspection data from hundreds of farms across the province and perform complex calculations on chick maturation and egg-laying life-spans, to determine the number of chickens needed in production to meet demand and to scale hatchery operations accordingly. The system also includes the potential for the Board to pinpoint the flock a particular egg came from, in the event of a disease outbreak.
"We're now being proactive in improving the quality and safety of egg production processes and products," said Anne-Marie Butler, Director of Finance and Administration at the BC Egg Marketing Board. "By making data easier to collect, analyze and share, we are seeing efficiencies that allow us to go beyond the bare minimum for compliance."
Previously, data collection was paper-intensive, manual and disjointed, but with the analytics solution, real-time production data from all farms is captured electronically, while data about egg safety and other inspection criterion is collected and entered by on-site inspectors using tablets. This has reduced farm inspection workload by 66 percent, and created an annual cost savings of $100,000.
"I now have online access to data that allows me to monitor my farm's daily production and other activities, share it with my farm manager so we can track and adjust, as well as benchmark against other producers in a similar category. It eliminates speculation or basing decisions on what I presume others are doing. The facts and data speak for themselves, and give me a great overview of where I stand in relation to industry averages," says Walter Siemens, an egg farmer in Abbotsford, B.C.
The analytics solution was recently augmented by a Web-based producers' portal, which replaces the paper, monthly production statement the Board previously faxed to its members. It gives egg producers mobile, tablet or Web-based, real-time access to the Board's range of data on farm- and flock-level operations, providing metrics such as egg size, egg type, average price per dozen, weekly and year-to-date production and revenue totals, historical comparisons, provincial benchmarks and more.
IBM worked with business partner Peritas Solutions to integrate the analytics data onto the portal. "Using IBM Cognos 10, producers can measure themselves against their peers and are using these key insights to drive expenses down and margins up, and deliver a higher quality, more predictable product into the marketplace, " said Chris Foster, an account executive at Peritas. "The IBM analytics behind BC Egg Board's system serves to simplify every part of the supply chain by providing producers with the unprecedented ability to access, compare and derive insights from data, enabling them to solve problems, make adjustments and increase profitability," said Jamie Spiller, IBM's smarter commerce lead.
Each year, $15 trillion is lost as a result of inefficiencies from wasted products in the global supply chain. In addition, there is $1.2 trillion globally in excess inventory stockpiled in supply chains. By tracking trends and sentiment and interacting with consumers in new ways, organizations can strengthen connections to their customers and improve business processes. Through the Smarter Commerce initiative, IBM is taking the lead in helping organizations respond to market shifts in real-time, automate marketing, selling and fulfillment, and create a consistent global brand experience.
For more information about IBM, please visit www.ibm.com/services.
About The BC Egg Marketing Board
The BC Egg Marketing Board is a non-profit organization that is represented by approximately 132 small, family-owned and operated egg farms. Eggs are produced in a manner that reflects the spirit of responsibility, accountability, and integrity of all our stakeholders. Farms operate independently, without government subsidies, and with respect for resources and the products they produce.
June 11, 2012, West Lafayette, IN - Taking just a few seconds to cool freshly laid eggs would add weeks to their shelf life, according to a Purdue University study.
The rapid-cooling process, developed by Kevin Keener, a professor of food science, uses liquid carbon dioxide to stabilize the proteins in egg whites so much that they could be rated AA – the highest grade for eggs – for 12 weeks. Earlier research showed that the same cooling technology could significantly reduce occurrences of salmonella illnesses.
Eggs cooled under current methods lose the AA grade in about six weeks, Keener said.
"There is no statistical difference in quality between eggs as measured by Haugh units just after laying and rapidly cooled eggs at 12 weeks," he said. "This rapid-cooling process can provide a significant extension in the shelf life of eggs compared to traditional processing."
Haugh units measure an egg white's protein quality.
Keener's results, published in the journal Poultry Science, also show that membranes surrounding the eggs' yolks were maintained for 12 weeks when eggs were rapidly cooled. That membrane is a barrier that keeps harmful bacteria from reaching the yolk, a nutrient-rich reservoir that bacteria could use as a food source.
"The structural integrity of the yolk membrane stays strong longer, which may provide a food safety benefit," he said. "The membrane being stronger would be another defense against bacterial invasion, such as salmonella."
The rapid-cooling technology takes liquid carbon dioxide and turns it into a "snow" to rapidly lower the eggs' temperature. Eggs are placed in a cooling chamber and carbon dioxide gas at about minus 110 degrees Fahrenheit is generated. The cold gas is circulated around the eggs and forms a thin layer of ice inside the eggshell. After treatment, the ice layer melts and quickly lowers an egg's internal temperature to below 45 degrees, the temperature at which salmonella can no longer grow.
Keener's previous research showed that the carbon dioxide in bicarbonate form significantly increases the activity of lysozyme, an enzyme in the egg white that has bactericidal properties.
Traditionally, eggs are at more than 100 degrees when placed into a carton. Thirty dozen eggs are then packed in a case, and 30 cases are stacked onto pallets and placed in refrigerated coolers. The eggs in the middle of the pallet can take up to 142 hours - nearly six days - to cool to 45 degrees, Keener said.
Keener said a 2005 U.S. government report showed that if eggs were cooled and stored at 45 degrees within 12 hours of laying, there would be about 100,000 fewer salmonella illnesses from eggs in the nation each year.
Rapid cooling could also increase the ability to export eggs to places where this isn't possible today.
"You could send eggs anywhere in the world if you could get even eight weeks of shelf life at AA quality. We're seeing 12 weeks," Keener said. "Right now, you can't ship eggs anywhere in the world and expect to retain that quality."
Keener said with additional funding he would continue to study the benefits of rapid cooling, including inoculating the inside of shell eggs with Salmonella and examining how other proteins in the whites and yolks of eggs are affected.
Keener is a technical consultant to the American Egg Board and a member of the United Egg Producers Scientific Advisory Panel. His work was funded by Purdue and gift funds.
May 28, 2012 - Senators in the US Senate have proposed setting a uniform national standard for the treatment of egg-laying hens that would reduce different state standards.
According to an article on The Hill, Senator Dianne Feinstein has said that six states have their own standards, with 18 others planning to do so soon, which could severely limit interstate egg transportation.
The proposed bill, S. 3239, would codify an agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society on how egg-laying hends should be treated.
"The United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States worked for over a year to reach this compromise, and I believe it is one that strikes a very fair balance," she said. "Producers must enlarge cages for egg-laying hens and allow space for the birds to engage in natural behaviors such as nesting and perching."
For more information, please see the complete article found on The Hill website.
May 24, 2012 - Eden Valley Poultry Inc. will be able to increase its productivity by more than 40 per cent through the purchase of leading-edge poultry processing equipment, supported by an investment by the province of Nova Scotia.
Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Percy Paris announced a $1-million capital investment May 17 in Eden Valley Poultry Incorporated through the Productivity Investment Program (PIP).
"The province understands the importance of investing in our businesses and helping them become more productive and globally competitive," said Mr. Paris. "This investment supports good jobs in rural communities, and that's what jobsHere is all about."
Eden Valley has invested about $40 million to renovate a Berwick facility which closed in 2011. The new plant will employ up to 200 people, and have the capacity to process 40 million kilograms of poultry annually. Eden Valley Poultry Inc. is a joint venture between United Poultry Producers inc. and Maple Lodge Holdings Corp.
"This is a great program to support increased productivity and innovation in the province," said Eden Valley president Greg Gillespie. "Eden Valley Poultry is pleased to receive this contribution towards our total $40 million investment."
Equipment purchased with support from the province will increase chicken processing capacity by 40 per cent to 12,000 boilers per hour, and double the number of turkeys that can be processed to 2,500 per hour.
"Eden Valley poultry represents the jobs and economic opportunity that the people of Berwick, and Kings County need," said Berwick Mayor John Prall. "This facility represents a major boost to our municipal bottom line that will provide the services our community depends on."
The Productivity Investment Program encourages Nova Scotia businesses to become more productive, innovative and globally competitive through two financial incentives: the Capital Investment Incentive and the Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive.
In its first year, $17.2 million has been committed in PIP funding for more than 294 projects.
For more information on jobsHere and the Productivity Investment Program, visit http://jobsHere.novascotia.ca.
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