Veterinary consultant, Michael McCreesh, explains why bird weight is arguably the most important parameter farmers should be routinely monitoring. He discusses the benefits of using technology to monitor bird weight in real-time to maximise flock performance and farm efficiency.
Daily live weight gain targets
Farmers have to ensure birds are reaching their growth targets within a tight window of around 30-35 days, leaving little room for error. Chicks will usually arrive on-farm weighing approximately 42g, and should weigh around 210g by day seven, 519g by day fourteen, and gain approximately 500-600g per week thereafter.
Producers generally can’t afford to be missing these targets as it can affect overall flock uniformity and lead to contract requirements not being met.
Traditional approach to broiler weight management
Typically, a sample of around 50-100 birds are weighed one to two times a week, meaning weight fluctuations that could be causing health and welfare issues are going unnoticed for relatively long periods of time.
This frequency of data collection also means performance information is only collected based on about 3% of a bird’s life meaning it’s hard to provide an accurate representation of the flock’s wider health, particularly when compared to the capabilities of technology that provides data every 15 minutes.
Using technology, such as SenseHub™ Poultry weigh sensors, allows producers to monitor weight in real-time, providing regular updates on flock health, which can alert producers to changes in weight much sooner than a traditional monitoring approach could.
Monitoring activity levels
Positioning weigh platforms around poultry houses can also provide broader insight beyond just weight measurements. For example, Weigh Sense+ directly records activity levels by monitoring the number of times the sensor has been jumped on/walked across in a 24-hour time period. Changes in activity levels can be a clear indication that environmental factors such as temperature or CO2 are not optimal. Likewise, a drop in activity can be an indicator of disease. The quicker this insight is founded and acted on, the quicker any potential problems can be prevented.
Technology benefits to broiler producers
Being able to provide granular data on weight or activity levels is incredibly beneficial to farmers, for example there is a greater ability to guarantee flock uniformity.
By accessing and interpreting the data captured by the sensors, farmers can also easily forecast the amount of chicken they are going to be supplying to processors helping to manage the supply and demand across the supply chain.
To find out more about SenseHub™ Poultry and the transformative technology that is being deployed on poultry farms across the UK, visit https://merck.sensehubpoultry.com/.