Manager Experience – Value Gained
Group-wide benchmarking and issue diagnosis
For 11 years, a farmer had poor early laying flock performance. A farmer blamed his flock’s inability to get into lay on feed quality, pullet quality, building design, disease challenge and other perceived issues. Within weeks of installing Birdbox, the farmer once again reported the same pullet quality issue. Without visiting the farm, the packer compared his flock bird weight, feed consumption and other metrics against other farms within the group that had also received pullets from the same rearing farm.
The manager could instantly see a difference in feed consumption of 70gms/day/bird versus a group consumption of 90g/day/bird. Upon further investigation, the issue was narrowed down to an incorrectly installed feeder system control unit which was then fixed. Immediately, feed consumption increased to 90gms/day/bird on the problem farm and that particular flock went on to deliver the best performance figures that farm had seen.
A step change to the conventional approach
“Many farmers are still using paper records to collect production data at the farm level, this has been the case for many years. With the installation of the BirdBox control and management system, we have moved away from the need to keep and report in a hard copy, data about consumption and performance is being automatically recorded and immediately synced with the ‘cloud’.
As a packer, information from all supplying farms is instantly visible to us at all times. We’re able to use this information to work quickly with our producers to understand issues that arise and alter management to improve bird welfare and performance. This approach is highly compatible with our retail clients requiring high welfare outcomes for their farms and looking to establish a blockchain underpinning their supply.”
Underfeeding caused by imperfect equipment configuration
“The BirdBox displays continuous feed consumption for the flock. Early on we noticed that feed was not running consistently during the feed period for our 16,000 free range layer shed. Through closer review of the data, we discovered an error on an in-hopper sensor causing it to intermittently provide incorrect readings and fluctuations in the evenness of feed delivery. The BirdBox has given us visibility to rectify hidden challenges like this, preventing any potential downstream impacts to the birds and offsetting significant financial losses as a result”
Birdbox alerts, proactive reactions, and reduced farm staff stress
During a site extension pilot in 2019, The Lakes Free Range Company and their partners reported responding to over 236 Birdbox alerts that would have negatively affected the stress-free birdhouse environment. This included alerts on:
Water-off during feed times
Power off during feed time
Water leak (9 major)
Lights on outside of the set time
Lights not on within time
Farm Staff Experience – Value Gained
The key benefits of the system are that it allows farm staff to proactively address and avoid situations that would typically cause small stress factors within highly performing poultry operations. This includes light breakdowns, running out of feed, water shortage, poor ventilation, and feeder breakdowns, amongst others. Individually, these issues do not usually impact production but over time, taken together, they can negatively affect efficiency and animal welfare. Notably, they can lead to the development disease and hostile bird behaviour resulting in feather pecking, cannibalism and mortality.
High CO2 threshold
In real-time Birdbox environmental sensors recorded a birdhouse CO2 level of 5000ppm. Farm staff were immediately notified through the alert feature and could open the shed ventilation to reduce the concentration.
Improving on-farm decision-making by removing guesswork
A layer egg farmer in rural Cumbria, England experienced a 4% production drop and a 2% increase in egg seconds that cost him £373 in income per week. In the past, the farmer would often make farm decisions based on guess work and hope to eventually stumble upon the solution. For example, a vet may suggest using antibiotics that could sometimes reduce good bacteria and negatively increase flock vulnerability to other challenges. In turn, this poor production can typically last 4 to 6 weeks. This amounts to £373 x 6 weeks = £2,238 in lost income + £300 for antibiotics. Compounding this, the farmer would often see a drop in egg size over the 6 week period which would amount to an additional £4,000 in lost revenue.
With Birdbox, the farmer is able to see what is happening on his farm and whether the intervention is having a positive impact in real time. This removes guesswork and improves problem diagnosis.