Veterinary consultant, Barry Thorp, discusses the key parameters producers should be monitoring on broiler farms to maximise flock performance and productivity.
Temperature requirements change as a flock matures, with 30°C being the optimum in the first few days of the chick’s arrival on-farm. This must be closely monitored throughout the poultry house as it’s not uncommon for certain areas within a house to be above or below the optimum. If birds are too hot, they use excess energy to cool down and if they are too cold, they use energy to keep warm – either way this energy is not going into weight gain reducing feed conversation efficiency.
Sense Node, the Poultry Sense sensor which measures temperature, is typically fitted one per 1,000 birds and is positioned throughout a house at bird level to ensure accurate readings are collected. It’s important that consistent temperatures are maintained as incorrect temperatures can influence feed and water consumption and therefore have an impact on bird uniformity.
Broiler units should be looking to keep CO2 levels below 3,000 parts per million (ppm). Looking at ways to manage this is critical to operate efficiently and maximise bird health and performance. Anything above this level is critical to bird health.
CO2 levels rising above this can lead to increased respiratory and cardiovascular efforts. Excessive strain on the heart, particularly in young birds, may lead to heart failure and ascites. Again, Sense Node+ monitors this parameter and due to real-time data being available, it will alert producers if levels exceed 3,000ppm quicker than traditional, manual observations.
Variations in CO2 levels can occur regularly within broiler houses, with the birds themselves producing a large amount of the gas combined with the amount generated by ventilation systems. Striking a balance with systems that push CO2 out but keep the warmth in can be challenging, but with sensors positioned around the house, this can be proactively monitored.
For information about how CO2 levels affect bird health, check out our blog here.
Daily live weight gain
The typical ways of measuring bird weight aren’t representative of the entire flock, with weights often being taken from a small number of the birds once a week. In order to maximise the growth potential of any flock, the Poultry Sense Weigh Sense+ can be used to weigh birds in real-time, immediately alerting producers to any fluctuations that are recorded.
Changes in daily live weight gain (DLWG) can occur for a number of reasons that can take days to manually observe. Having the resource to pick up on this instantly allows the necessary action to be taken quickly and reduces the overall impact this may have on performance.
Barry explores the benefits of monitoring weight gain here.
Water Sense+ is a valuable resource for broiler houses as it will detect and alert producers to changes in water consumption. A change in water consumption usually indicates a change in feed consumption, an environmental problem or a health issue.
By closely monitoring water consumption with the help of sensor technology, producers are able to identify any changes quickly, avoiding an impact on flock uniformity and feed conversion ratio (FCR). This can help ensure birds are consistently meeting growth targets in line with their contracts.
To find out more about Poultry Sense and the transformative technology that is being deployed on poultry farms across the UK, visit https://www.poultrysenseltd.com/.