Digital management for your flock from day one
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Today, digitalization is developing quickly, with more information being distributed digitally instead of by analog or in-person. As digitalization and professionalism increases worldwide, the poultry sector is no different. Everyone knows collecting, managing, and evaluating data is key to improving results. This data collection begins even before the chicks’ delivery.
Instead of using analog flock charts—which are painstakingly filled in and then stored and buried in a closet—digital platforms allow you to compare, benchmark, and draw conclusions from past cycles and to act on your current situation. Digital management allows you to input valuable metrics in the first days to help predict future performance. It also supports transparency, provides ‘track and trace’ throughout the supply chain, and can be used to support and monitor sustainability. For these reasons, digital management on the poultry farm is here to stay.
Unveil the potential of your flock
Agriculture has an affinity for new ways of working, especially using digital devices earlier than the average population. It started with things like feed and water management, climate computers, and GPSes in arable farming. Today, there is a wide array of sensors to collect data into ever-growing databases. For poultry producers, it is nice to own big chunks of data about feed and water consumption, temperature, CO2 levels, humidity, and many more measured values, but the key to generating value is the ability to evaluate the data and create parameters/indexes to understand your barn in real time.
Normally, there is an evaluation after the cycle. For example, the slaughter results of a broiler flock. We typically take the profit from the slaughterhouse and subtract expenses (i.e. feed and water) to create a retrospective understanding of the cycle. This is valuable information for upcoming cycles but does not impact the previous cycle. Technical developments now allow producers to valorize the data collection. Programs use real-time data collection systems to understand and create parameters on the fly. This allows producers to act within the current cycle.
For example, for a feed supplier, this means evaluating inputs to provide advice and adaptions during the current cycle. If there is a shift in grain price, a reformulation can be done to minimize the risk of economic losses for the farmer. Likewise, if the live action data is identifying a health implication, then an effective functional feed ingredient or treatment can be quickly applied. Furthermore, this live time input and output allows producers to plan the slaughter schedule better by making predictions about the growth and possible duration until the target weight is achieved.
To reap all these benefits, collecting and sorting large quantities of data is imperative. Of course, this data includes individual farms but combining data from many operations allows for more in-depth analytics of certain regions, production types, breeds or benchmarks between feed suppliers.
Kickstart your poultry flock
Certain key performance indicators (KPIs) help to evaluate the quality and progress of a young poultry flock. Therefore, it makes sense to track and collect these parameters to get evidence about the development of your flock instead of guesses. In the first days, important KPIs are weight, crop filling, navel score, and yolk absorption. To benchmark the quality of the day-old chicks, these measurements should be collected and compared to either a standard value from the breeding company or to the average of the farm. Other measurements like parentstock age, climate, ventilation, and litter should be collected and evaluated to draw a full picture of the development and status of the flock. The more complete and accurate the information gathered, the faster and more reliable measurements can be taken to improve the well-being of the current flock.
Looking at the wide array of parameters, do not stop with the basic ones, also add “soft”-parameters, which you as a stockman observe. How is the activity of the flock? Are the birds chirping? Are their eyes open? Do they actively approach feed and water? Putting these kinds of parameters in a digital environment can also give you a very good indication of the overall status of the flock. Combining all the collected data and evaluating it properly will enable you to steer your flock and proactively react to certain situations and avoid interferences during the cycle.
The combination of collected parameters can also help generate a financial profit analysis. By including financial metrics as well as both hard and soft performance values, a full picture of costs and revenue is attained. This picture allows producers the ability to reevaluate the operation’s approach. Digital management helps producers see when maximum biological performance does not necessarily mean maximum profit. Therefore, evidence-based evaluations of your poultry operation, via data collection, is the key to sustainable and profitable results.
Additionally, if properly used, efficient data use can lead to an improvement of KPIs due to a better understanding of what is currently happening and can contribute to precise advice to achieve personal goals. Digital has come a long way and the poultry industry is already reaping some benefits from modern technology. Taking the time to generate accurate data and quickly evaluate the story is the next trend of poultry farming.
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