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Optimising broiler performance with new technology

3 July 2019, at 4:37pm

At the 2018 British Pig & Poultry Fair, ABN invited The Poultry Site to the unveiling of their answer to the uptake of technology in the poultry industry: Total Farm Performance (TFP). We followed up with producer Will Wastling, who’s implemented ABN’s on-farm solutions, to find out how Total Farm Performance measures up to the competition.

© ABN

Total Farm Performance: three solutions for today’s producers

TFP is a whole-farm approach to upgrading poultry production. It combines the latest technological innovations with actual farming expertise, as well as advanced analytics to give real insight to producers.

This approach is separated into three offerings:

  • inFarm provides producers with practical farm management advice from technical experts who will come to the farm to recommend and help implement best practice.
  • inFocus is the data capture and insight aspect of TFP which utilises cutting edge technology to put all the producers’ data at their fingertips in real time.
  • inDepth provides bespoke data analysis to help producers find solutions to their unique challenges

Producers have the option of signing up for all three solutions, just one or mixing and matching to find a combination that suits their unique needs. This has the advantage of broadening Total Farm Performance’s potential audience, while also offering producers a solution that will work best for their operation.

Drives efficiency

But how does it work? We ask Will Wastling, who’s signed up for the inFarm and inFocus solutions, whether Total Farm Performance is all it promises to be.

“Our productivity has definitely improved. We’re able to keep a much closer eye on a number of the key factors impacting performance across our operation,” says Will.

“What’s been particularly transformative for us is the way Total Farm Performance has helped us to react to issues quickly. Because the data comes through to our central office in real time, we can monitor problems as they arise and act to solve them much earlier than we could before.”

This quick reaction time is imperative, especially today when demand has not only been greater than ever before but calls for more than just meat: it’s for meat from animals produced sustainably, humanely and cost effectively.

Saves on costs

When demand is not only so high, but so varied, both the pressure and the cost fall to the farmer. Ultimately, if new technology doesn’t help the bottom line, it won’t be taken up by producers.

Mr Wastling, however, was impressed: “Total Farm Performance has absolutely saved us time which has enabled us to work better across the business. Instead of people needing to drive to and from our different units to deliver this information by hand or finding a time to call, it is uploaded in real-time, and we can access the information from our central office immediately and as it happens.

“It’s cut the waiting time by huge amounts and, without a doubt, has made our processes more efficient, given us visibility across our operations, and ultimately improved our performance.”

Some producers may question the financial reality of signing up for such a system, but Mr Wastling says that the Total Farm Performance team works with producers to find an option that best suits their needs and means. “It’s worth having the conversation to see what they can do for you,” he adds.

Easy to use and set up

According to Mr Wastling, his operation now has tablets set up in each of his sheds. The tablets are connected to 3G or WiFi and send all the captured data back to the central office to create digital farm records. This, he says, is a huge improvement on the handwritten data they used to record and still meets the requirements of farm assurance schemes

© ABN

“Not only have the team helped us to set-up Total Farm Performance on-farm, they are a constant point of contact and offer us invaluable advice, all derived from our data. They regularly look for trends, offer advice on things like ventilation and lighting patterns, and are constantly looking for improvements we could make across the farm to maximise our production levels.

“It fantastic to know they are there to support us and they have already made a huge impact on our business.”

Mr Wastling says that, after a week, he and his team were all very confident with the new tech. “It mirrors exactly what we were doing previously, but instead of writing information down on a piece of paper, it’s now done digitally, which makes it much easier to use the insights from this data to improve performance.”

Keeps a close eye on all the details – safely

All this data is stored centrally and can be accessed 24/7 by Mr Wastling from his tablet. It saves him time driving around and allows him to check on bird weights, mortality, and water and feed consumption from anywhere at any time.

This, says Mr Wastling, is better biosecurity as well. Not having as many staff going on and off the site as often as they used to means that there’s less risk of exposing the flocks to outside pathogens.

This is one aspect of production that, in light of the global effort to reduce antimicrobials on farm, is essential. It’s clear that technology can go a long way to keeping flocks healthier, not only for the data it can capture and insights it can provide, but for its ability to keep flocks separate from disease-causing pathogens.

Support from start to finish

When implementing new technology anywhere it’s imperative that it’s supported, especially when it comes to raising chickens, which can be time sensitive and costly.

© ABN

The Total Farm Performance team, “have all been brilliant,” says Mr Wastling.

“They ran through the entire process with us when we were migrating to the service and are always on the end of the phone when we need them.

“If we’re ever stuck, they have always managed to sort out our problem. If there’s something going wrong that we haven’t spotted, it’s likely they will spot it before we do too.

“Having them as part of our extended team is really invaluable.”

Wrapping up

So, how does Total Farm Performance’s triad of solutions measure up? Well, Will Wastling has been signed up to inFarm and inFocus for a while and was among the first to trial the system. With access to real time data and insights on demand, as well as on-farm expertise from the TFP team, it’s hard to deny the applications of this system.

“I think that my business would take a step backwards if we were not to use it anymore,” concludes Mr Wastling.