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Multi-Flock Comparison of Broiler Feed Ticket Weights and On-Farm Feed Weights

by 5m Editor
13 November 2009, at 12:00am

The Applied Broiler Research Farm (ABRF) at the University of Arkansas has the ability to weigh the feed broilers consume on a daily basis and thus can compare feed-ticket weights with on-farm feed weights for 100 flocks of birds. Contract growers should retain feed tickets and maintain accurate records, recommends Dr G.T. Tabler in an article in the University's <em>Avian Advice</em>.


Applied broiler research unit (Savoy)
These four full-sized broiler houses are equipped with computerised environmental control and data collections systems capable of commercial-type production research.

Introduction

Contract broiler producers do not manufacture or deliver feed to their farms nor do they purchase it outright. Because they do not directly pay for their feed, questions may arise concerning how much feed was delivered and if that feed was accurately weighed, even though contracts have provisions for growers to be present when feed and birds are weighed. Accurate feed weights are critical because under most broiler growing contracts, a major portion of producer pay is based on how much feed birds consume and how well birds convert that feed to meat. The ABRF recently harvested the 100th flock of broilers grown at the farm. The farm is capable of weighing the feed birds consume on a daily basis and thus was able to compare feed-ticket weights with on-farm feed weights for 100 flocks of birds.

Comparisons

The on-farm feed weighing system and procedures for daily feed weighing were described in detail previously by Tabler (2001). The system allows the ABRF the capability to weigh feed consumed at each of four broiler houses on a daily basis. After harvest, feed intake for the four houses are combined and compared with feed ticket weights received during the flock and feed weight charged to the farm on the settlement sheet. A 100-flock comparison of on-farm feed weights and feed-ticket weights for broilers grown at the ABRF from November 1990 through October 2008 is presented in Table 1 (flocks 1-50) and Table 2 (flocks 51-100). Data indicate that on-farm weights and feed-ticket delivery weights never exactly matched but were for the most part, similar. For 81 of 100 flocks, weight differences favoured the producer.

Table 1. On-farm bin scale weights versus feed ticket weights (flocks 1-50)1
Flock No. Flock dates On-farm Feed
Wts (lbs)
Scale Ticket
Wts (lbs)
Difference
(lbs)
Difference
(%)
1 11/19/90-1/14/91 853330 846900 6430 0.754
2 2/1/91-3/29/91 819520 814480 5040 0.615
3 4/15/91-6/9/91 814290 806240 8050 0.989
4 6/20/91-8/18/91 840360 886960 lightening damage
5 8/29/91-10/23/91 865658 859360 6298 0.728
6 11/12/91-1/7/92 911938 903720 8218 0.9
7 1/23/92-3/16/92 802864 793960 8904 1.109
8 4/2/92-5/21/92 688720 683580 5140 0.746
9 6/8/92-7/30/92 757580 751230 6350 0.838
10 8/7/92-10/1/92 885928 881620 4308 0.486
11 10/15/92-12/10/92 967180 962810 4370 0.452
12 12/21/92-2/17/93 970436 962900 7536 0.777
13 3/2/93-4/29/93 973240 965190 8050 0.827
14 5/11/93-7/6/93 875352 868970 6382 0.729
15 7/9/93-9/2/93 857972 853220 4752 0.554
16 9/17/93-11/11/93 984974 978570 6404 0.65
17 11/29/93-1/25/94 1072612 1062440 10172 0.948
18 2/10/94-4/6/94 948546 935060 13486 1.422
19 4/19/94-5/31/94 660784 655240 5544 0.839
20 6/9/94-8/3/94 748054 748560 506 0.068
21 8/5/94-9/14/94 588722 586160 2562 0.345
22 9/20/94-11/3/94 666354 664020 2334 0.35
23 11/15/94-12/28/94 671776 665860 5916 0.88
24 1/10/95-2/23/95 692770 686280 6490 0.937
25 3/7/95-4/19/95 578528 582980 4452 0.764
26 5/5/95-6/15/95 649266 644900 4366 0.672
27 6/29/95-8/9/95 618756 610200 8556 1.383
28 8/18/95-9/28/95 647574 641960 5614 0.867
29 10/13/95-11/22/95 613104 605720 7384 1.204
30 12/7/95-1/22/96 665134 671360 6226 0.927
31 1/26/96-3/7/96 557626 552940 4686 0.841
32 3/15/96-4/26/96 601490 595900 5590 0.829
33 5/9/96-6/20/96 598276 593240 5036 0.842
34 7/4/96-8/16/96 618418 606780 11638 1.882
35 10/31/96-12/10/96 685446 689340 3896 0.565
36 12/30/96-2/6/97 591834 581120 10714 1.81
37 2/24/97-4/7/97 663096 654200 8896 1.342
38 4/24/97-6/6/97 661088 652410 8678 1.313
39 6/26/97-8/18/97 858594 850380 8214 0.957
40 9/1/97-10/22-97 776572 770300 6272 0.808
41 11/7/97-12/30/97 839070 830120 8950 1.067
42 1/27/98-3/20/98 848298 843280 5018 0.592
43 4/6/98-5/27/98 777952 767860 10092 1.297
44 6/12/98-8/6/98 816662 813440 3222 0.395
45 8/18/98-10/12/98 866424 863020 3404 0.393
46 10/30/98-12/15/98 746540 695350 51190 6.86
47 1/8/99-3/1/99 818744 810900 7844 0.96
48 3/22/99-5/14/99 831298 820820 10478 1.26
49 5/31/99-7/27/99 933730 928680 5050 0.54
50 8/5/99-9/29/99 911550 901080 10470 1.15
TOTALS
AVERAGE
38694030
773881
38401610
768032
---
7534
---
0.99
1Bold numbers indicate flocks when scale ticket weights were greater than on-farm feed weights.


Table 2. On-farm bin scale weights versus feed ticket weights (flocks 51-100)1
Flock No. Flock dates On-farm Feed
Wts (lbs)
Scale Ticket
Wts (lbs)
Difference
(lbs)
Difference
(%)
51 10/12/99-12/3/99 851880 856600 4720 0.55
52 12/20/99-2/8/00 784042 778900 5142 0.66
53 3/13/00-5/4/00 854550 845030 9522 1.11
54 5/15/00-7/11/00 930726 930940 214 0.02
55 7/21/00-9/12/00 853534 842980 10554 1.24
56 9/22/00-11/13/00 844766 841120 3646 0.43
57 11/28/00-1/19/01 784058 781980 2078 0.27
58 1/30/01-3/23/01 927512 916700 10812 1.18
59 3/29/01-5/10/01 660764 653700 7064 1.08
60 5/18/01-6/30/01 671108 659980 11128 1.69
61 7/5/01-8/17/01 727610 728360 750 0.10
62 8/30/01-10/10/01 681540 651560 29980 4.60
63 10/30/01-12/7/01 611030 608200 2830 0.47
64 12/21/01-2/6/02 903546 898850 4696 0.52
65 2/15/02-4/1/02 868838 866780 2058 0.24
66 4/11/02-5/28/02 930624 935990 5366 0.57
67 6/4/02-7/19/02 843580 831660 11920 1.43
68 8/5/02-9/18/02 770174 767240 2934 0.38
69 11/4/02-12/17/02 697376 697780 404 0.06
70 1/3/03-2/14/03 650214 649670 544 0.08
71 2/27/03-4/10/03 610242 608270 1972 0.32
72 4/29/03-6/10/03 612478 606510 5968 0.98
73 6/19/03-7/31/03 603640 603070 570 0.09
74 8/18/03-9/29/03 591556 589250 2306 0.39
75 10/7/03-11/18/03 685668 677240 8428 1.24
76 12/30/03-2/10/04 749558 752090 2532 0.34
77 2/23/04-4/2/04 610150 606040 4110 0.68
78 4/15/04-5/26/04 563054 561720 1334 0.24
79 6/3/04-7/17/04 645268 637870 7398 1.16
80 8/22/04-10/11/04 740508 733550 6958 0.95
81 10/17/04-11/29/04 713678 699580 14098 2.02
82 1/3/05-2/14/05 809018 809790 772 0.10
83 2/28/05-4/11/05 772700 766430 6270 0.82
84 4/25/05-6/3/05 647250 642160 5090 0.79
85 6/13/05-7/22/05 617892 614490 3402 0.55
86 8/8/05-9/16/05 588314 587940 374 0.06
87 4/11/06-5/19/06 619420 619640 220 0.04
88 6/5/06-7/13/06 703208 704860 1652 0.23
89 8/1/06-9/21/06 1001448 1005120 3672 0.37
90 10/6/06-11/24/06 1002777 992780 9997 1.01
91 12/21/06-2/7/07 902726 912880 10154 1.11
92 2/26/07-4/20/07 947448 947020 428 0.05
93 5/15/07-7/10/07 1035918 1037400 1482 0.14
94 7/27/07-9/24/07 1085270 1088770 3500 0.32
95 10/8/07-12/3/07 1114396 1123690 9294 0.83
96 12/14/07-2/6/08 1003356 998160 5196 0.52
97 2/21/08-4/11/08 947624 945970 1654 0.17
98 4/25/08-6/13/08 906596 915510 8914 0.97
99 6/26/08-8/14/08 929254 942698 13444 1.43
100 8/22/08-10/10/08 950312 955475 5163 0.54
TOTALS
AVERAGE
39558199
791164
39429993
788600
---
5454
---
0.70
1Bold numbers indicate flocks when scale ticket weights were greater than on-farm feed weights.

For the first 50 flocks, the difference between on-farm feed weights and feed-ticket weights favoured the producer in 47 flocks by an average 1.02 per cent. The remaining three flocks favoured the integrator by an average of 0.59 per cent. The overall combined difference between the two systems on the first 50 flocks was 0.99 per cent in favour of the producer.

In the second 50 flocks, (51 through 100) the difference between on-farm feed weights and feed-ticket weights favoured the producer in 34 flocks by an average of 0.81 per cent. The remaining 16 flocks favoured the integrator by an average of 0.48 per cent. The overall combined difference between the two systems on the second 50 flocks was 0.70 per cent in favor of the producer, slightly lower than the first 50 flocks. Ten of the 16 flocks that favoured the integrator have occurred since 2006, after the ABRF was renovated. Several older load-cells at bins that weigh feed on-farm had to be replaced during that time. Many of these were original load-cells installed in 1990. This change in load-cells may partially explain the increased number of flocks that recently favour the integrator. Overall, differences between on-farm feed weights and feed-delivery ticket weights averaged 0.85 per cent for 100 flocks of broilers that consumed over 75 million pounds of feed.

Everyone’s Best Interest

Every producer will eventually face the issue of feed being delivered a day too early and the bins not holding it all. By law, any feed that is returned by or picked up from a poultry producer must be weighed if feed weight is a factor in determining payment; the integrator must document and account for any returned or picked-up feed.

But sometimes mistakes occur. Growers are urged to keep track of feed tickets and know when something is out of the ordinary – for example, feed is delivered too frequently or not frequently enough. It is in the best interests of both producer and integrator to resolve any issues as they arise. Waiting until the flock sells to try to resolve a questionable feed ticket from weeks ago may result in conflict. Service technicians should be contacted at the first sign of a potential problem. If feed was received but no ticket can be found, ask the service technician to provide a copy.

Feed costs are nearly two-thirds of all broiler production costs. These costs are important to growers because feed conversion largely determines how well each grower settles at the end of the flock. Integrators have millions of dollars invested in feed mills and feed processing equipment, feed trucks, labour costs and feed ingredients. This is, in part, why service technicians are always asking growers to manage feeder height correctly and to avoid feed waste when chicks are small and begin scratching feed out of the feed trays.

Safeguards

The USDA Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) of 1921 is designed to promote fair competition and ensure fair trade practices in the livestock and poultry industries. This Act also protects contract poultry producers. P&S Act requires all scales used by integrators to weigh feed for purposes of payment and settlement be installed, maintained and operated to ensure accurate weights. The Packers and Stockyards Program (P&SP) enforces the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act). P&SP promotes accurate weighing in the live poultry industry in the following ways (USDA, 2008):

  1. All scales used for weighing feed for purchase, sale, acquisition, payment or settlement must be installed and maintained in accordance to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 44 as incorporated by reference into the regulations.

  2. All scales used to weigh feed for purchase, sale, acquisition, payment or settlement under the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) must be tested for accuracy by a competent agency at least each six months, and the reports of these tests forwarded to P&SP.

  3. Any scale found to be inaccurate according to accepted tolerances, must not be used until it is repaired, re-tested and found accurate again.

  4. Whenever the weight of feed is a factor in determining payment or settlement to a poultry grower when live poultry is produced under a growing arrangement, live poultry dealers must base payment or settlement on the actual weight of feed shown on the scale ticket. If the actual weight used is not obtained on the date and at the place of transfer of possession, this information must be disclosed with the date and location of the weighing on the accountings, bills or statements issued. If there are any adjustments to the actual weight, this information and the reason must be disclosed on the accountings, bills or statements issued.

  5. Integrators must employ qualified scale operators. Integrators must require scale operators to comply with federal regulations for weighing feed for payment purposes.

  6. Every live poultry dealer must keep all accounts, records and memorandum necessary to fully and correctly disclose all transactions involved in the business transaction, including the true ownership. The scale ticket is a legal document. Every record that is issued where weight is a factor of settlement depends.

Scales used to weigh feed must be attached to a printer, which should print weight values on a feed ticket. Producers should never receive scale tickets written by hand. In addition to safeguards at the feed mill, the P&S Act also requires that each scale ticket for feed, where weight of feed is a factor in determining settlement to a producer, must show (USDA, 2008):

  1. Name of the company performing the weighing service
  2. Name and address of the producer receiving the feed
  3. Name, initials, or number of the feed weigher, or if required by State law, signature of the feed weigher
  4. Location of the scale
  5. Gross, tare, and net weight of each lot assigned to an individual producer
  6. Date and time gross and tare weights were determined, if applicable
  7. Whether the driver was on or off the truck at the time of weighing, and
  8. Licence number of the truck or other identification numbers on the truck and trailer, if weighed together, or trailer if only the trailer is weighed.

Even though integrators are required by law to maintain accurate records, it is important for growers to retain feed tickets and maintain accurate records. Alert the integrator at the first indication there may be a potential concern. The longer growers wait to report a problem, the harder it will be to resolve that problem. In most cases, problems can be quickly resolved when both producer and integrator have accurate records and act in a timely manner. In the unlikely event that a producer cannot satisfactorily resolve a feed issue, the P&S Act authorises the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to investigate complaints of possible violations. Producers may report possible violations of the P&S Act to GIPSA toll free at 1-800-998-3447.

References

Anonymous. 2001. How much did your feed really weigh? Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc. Accessed: 2 April 2009.

Tabler, G. T. 2001. A 10-year comparison of on-farm feed weights and feed truck weights. Avian Advice 3(3):1-3.

USDA. 2008. Responsibility for accurate scales and live poultry weights. Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, USDA. January 2008. Accessed: 6 April 2009.

November 2009