Eurotier in Hannover is the world’s largest trade fair for livestock, and this year there was a particular focus on poultry.
Innovative products on display included an award-winning ammonia monitor, feed supplements to reduce reliance on antibiotics, a natural beak smoothing feed pan and a silo cleaning robot.
See our round-up of some of the most interesting products at the show.
Feed supplement application unit: EW Nutrition Easy@
When the first signs of ill-health are spotted in a poultry flock, early intervention can help stop the spread to the rest of the birds.
Administration of health-boosting supplements or medications via drinking water is costly and requires high-precision metering devices.
On the other hand, mixing products in the feed may be challenging because of growing stringent legal requirements.
Furthermore, both authorisation and the inclusion of the drug in the next feed delivery lead to delays in treating the birds.
With time being of the essence, EW Nutrition of Germany has developed its Easy@ system, which enables selected products to be dispensed directly onto the feed in the poultry house.
The system comprises a sprayer unit that is attached to and powered by the feed line, and a range of supplements in aqueous solution, ready to use at the correct concentration in sealed plastic bottles.
The simple-to-use system involves the bottle, inverted, being clicked into place on the unit. The sprayer delivers the correct amount of solution onto the feed at a speed governed by the feeding system chain.
Delivery is within the analytical tolerance range defined by DIN 10529-1, without the farmer needing to calculate dilution rates or prepare premixes or stock solutions.
According to EW Nutrition, the Easy@ system allows poultry feeds to be supplemented with active agents quickly, easily and securely, and thus helps support efforts to improve animal welfare.
A panel of independent experts at the international trade show, EuroTier 2016, awarded EW Nutrition a Silver Innovation Medal for this new simple and effective dosing system.
Feed supplement: Biomin PoultryStar
Pressure is growing ever stronger across the globe to reduce antibiotic use in animal production to slow down the risk of pathogens developing resistance to these drugs.
Animal scientists have long been seeking alternative products and strategies to reduce our reliance on antibiotics without impacting adversely on animal health, welfare and performance.
Based in Austria, Biomin believes that establishing and stabilising a healthy intestinal flora is an essential aspect of animal health in poultry farming.
Its research has revealed that the feed additive, PoultryStar, achieves those objectives, both in chicks during the initial phase of intestinal colonisation just after hatch and as part of successful re-colonisation, for example after a course of antibiotics.
Awarded a Silver Innovation Medal at EuroTier, PoultryStar combines probiotic microorganisms and prebiotic fructo-oligosaccharides, which have been selected to help increase the resilience of day-old chicks and poultry of any age to pathogenic microbes as well as improve overall immunity and performance parameters such as weight gain and feed efficiency.
The product received EU approval as an intestinal flora stabiliser in 2015. It is available in two formulations for use in mixed feeds or administration via drinking water.
Ammonia monitor: DOL 53 / Dräger Polytron C300, DOL
Ammonia is generated from all animal waste. The gas is unpleasant, is known to exacerbate some respiratory diseases and can adversely affect bird performance.
Until now, ammonia monitors have not been robust enough to allow their continuous use for the control of the concentration of this gas in animal houses.
However, DOL Sensors of Denmark has now launched the DOL 53, the first electrochemical sensor for the continuous measurement of ammonia concentrations in animal housing.
The company was awarded a Silver Innovation Medal at EuroTier for this equipment, which also goes under the trade name, Dräger Polytron C300.
DOL says the sensor combines reliability with long-term stability for practical application in commercial poultry buildings. Because the air is sampled via diffusors, they do not rely on pumps or hoses, elements that are prone to breakdown under the challenging conditions found on many farms.
Sensitivity and accuracy of the DOL 53 are appropriate for animal houses, and the units are sufficiently robust to withstand the environmental conditions found there, and cross sensitivity to other gases is described as negligible.
Data from the sensors can be fed into the facility software to allow the correct environmental quality to be maintained and with it, good animal welfare.
Heat exchanger: AddAir, DACS
Matching the air conditions in the poultry house to the requirements of the birds as they grow aids optimum health and performance.
During the first few weeks of the broiler’s life, the main priority is to maintain the temperature in the house at a set point. This is achieved by heating and recirculating the warm air within the house.
In this respect, the new AddAir units from Danish company, DACS, perform like conventional heating systems in keeping the air quality and temperature right for the birds.
Standard ventilation systems allow air to enter from outside through inlet fans as the birds get older. While this freshens the air in the house, it will not have much impact in reducing the moisture level unless the incoming air is heated, which is costly.
It is at this stage that AddAir’s heat exchanger functionality kicks in. The unit’s damper opens to allow the entry of fresh air, which then passes through the heat exchanger so it reaches the same temperature as the air in the house.
Because this air is relatively dry, it is more effective at picking up excess moisture from the litter. This helps to keep conditions comfortable for the birds and minimises the risk of disease.
With each unit bringing up to 8,000 cubic metres of dry air into the house an hour, this dehumidification process is both fast and efficient, leading to savings of up to 20% in power consumption and 70% in heating costs, according to DACS.
Unlike systems that use power to heat incoming air, the units do not generate undesirable carbon dioxide. Overall, the improved conditions in the house lead to better bird performance.
The units have an open construction, which makes them easy to clean between flocks. During the production cycle, no cleaning or maintenance are required.
Poultry slat: Allround Poultry slat, PremiumFloor GmbH
While poultry houses generally have solid floors, there are some rearing systems that require slatted areas to ensure the health and welfare of the birds.
These include commercial production of ducks, geese, doves and hens, according to PremiumFloor of Germany.
Specialising in plastic floor panels for a wide range of farm applications, the company has recently extended its range to satisfy the needs of these smaller markets by introducing the Allround poultry slat.
Made of high-quality polypropylene co-polymer, the surface is resistant to slipping and the 40% open area means it remains cleans. Other key features of the floor panels are their high load capacity and long life.
Installed on any 5mm support beams, the panels can be cut every 10cm, minimising waste. Each panel measures 600mm wide by 800mm long, weighs 3.2kg, and can be removed individually.
Free-range surface: Viatrift surface material, Huesker Synthetic GmbH
In the British climate, the area immediately outside the free-range poultry house can quickly become muddy and wet, leading to unhygienic conditions for egg production.
Uneven areas caused by previous dustbathing can allow deep puddles to form, and there are a number of bacteria, viruses and parasites that thrive in these conditions.
When returning to the house, the hens bring the dirt and pathogens back to the house on their feet, potentially spreading them further.
German-based company, Huesker Synthetic was exhibiting its Viatrfit surfacing material at EuroTier for the first time.
The material is a heavy-duty polyethylene mesh, which is resistant to ultraviolet light, pecking and tearing. It is water-permeable so puddles cannot form on the surface, which also remains largely dirt-free.
The company recommends installation of a 10-metre wide strip of the material directly outside the house.
After preparatory work that may involve levelling of the area and a drainage layer of hard-core material, the mesh is laid in sections of 30-40 metres, tensioned with built-in belts and anchored to the building’s foundations and on the opposite side.
As well as the hygeine advantages, the company claims that birds distribute themselves more uniformly across the outside range area, and are more likely to make use of more distant shelters and ranging opportunities.
It also means droppings are spread more thinly across the range rather than being concentrated on bare ground near the poultry house.
Lighting equipment: AgriShift HL-UVA 3 LED, Once Innovations
Based in the US, Once Innovations is a company with a strong reputation for its expertise in lighting systems for poultry and other animals, generated from a high level of understanding of visual perception in animals and how it differs from that of humans.
Science shows us that the chicken has four peaks in its response to light, representing the bird’s strongest perception to light of different wavelengths.
These peaks occur in the green, red and blue ranges and also, significantly, in the low wavelength ultra violet (UVA) range.
Humans are unable to detect light in this low-wavelength range. However, for chickens, it gives additional clarity to their surroundings and helps them identify other individuals as well as feed particles.
Viewed under UVA light or daylight, each chicken has a unique series of markings on their feathers, which are used to signal to and communicate with other members of the flock.
Because of the increased sensitivity of perception, chickens prefer artificially lit environments with supplemental UVA. Once Innovations is using the birds’ preference as the basis for a new light-emitting diode (LED) fixture, which is scheduled to be available in 2017.
Specifically designed for use in poultry houses, its AgriShift HL-UVA emits a natural light spectrum that includes the UVA range, which helps promote animal welfare. The lighting units are easy to install and energy-efficient.
Water equipment: Optima E-Control, Lubing
Water pressure in drinker lines for poultry can vary as the result of fluctuations in the water supply, climatic conditions, time of day and the number of birds drinking from the line.
These irregularities can affect the functioning of the valves and lead to leaking lines or birds unable to access sufficient water.
Such conditions have the potential to adversely impact animal welfare. Wet litter encourages the formation of ammonia, which can exacerbate respiratory disease and cause discomfort, and birds need to be able to access clean drinking water all the time to maintain optimum health, wellbing and performance.
German company, Lubing, was awarded a Silver Innovation Medal at EuroTier for its Optima E-Control.
The system constantly monitors the pressure in water lines, and regulates it to keep the pressure constant at a chosen setting to suit individual flocks or poultry houses.
There is a function to trigger an alarm if the supply pressure drops below a set level.
Egg handling: Input unit, Lubing
Broken and cracked eggs cannot be sold, and they can be a source of contamination further along the line, and so egg handling must be carried out carefully at each and every stage to ensure the shells remain intact.
One area where the risk of breakages is higher is at transition points, where a feeder conveyor meets a main conveyor at an angle of 90 degrees.
At the transition point, eggs from the feeder chain have to pass onto the main chain below, which involves a drop that can lead to eggshell damage.
The new Input Unit from Lubing comprises a short section of soft plastic tubes on a belt at the transition point.
Driven by the main conveyor, these tubes run between the metal rods of the main conveyor and slightly above them, thus reducing the height differential between the two chains.
In trials using electronic eggs, the relative shock experienced at the transition point was significantly reduced with the Input Unit, which means fewer eggs damaged.
The unit is available in a range of sizes and can be integrated into existing conveyor systems.
Hatchery Hygiene: MS Hatchfog Ultra and MS Megades Hatch, Schippers
Hygiene in the hatchery is key for successful hatching and getting the chicks off to a good start in life.
The new MS Hatchfog Ultra from Schippers claims to offer a complete solution for the dry disinfection of incubator eggs.
The system, comprising the portable generating unit and disinfectant concentrate, uses ultrasound to generate a fog of disinfecting agent.
A special disinfectant has been developed to be used in the machine, MS Megades Hatch, which poses no hazard to health or the environment, as well as being non-corrosive, long-acting and user-friendly.
These characteristics give the new system advantages over commonly used disinfectants such as formalin/formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide and chlorine.
With the egg trolleys in the disinfection room, the disinfectant container is inserted into the unit using a lock-and-key principle and the storage tank is filled with up to 10 litres of water.
With the room closed, the fogger is allowed to run for 20 minutes to generate the disinfectant fog. The storage tank automatically closes once 10 litres has been reached so that the concentration of the solution is optimised.
After allowing the disinfectant fog to work for a further 20 minutes, the room can be ventilated, the now-disinfected and dry eggs are ready to resume the incubation process.
Clean silos: Silo-RoBoFox
The Silo-RoBoFox was a stand with a near-constant crowd of people throughout the show. While not a new innovation, its robotic arm reaching up into the depths of a silo to clean the entire bin with little labour was a sight to behold.
It extends through the entire silo firing high-pressure cleaning solution at its entire surface.
Moreover, testing by German assessor dLg has tested the device, and found it successful in taking a grain bin from “heavily dirty” to “clean”.
Enrichments: PickPuck, Big Dutchman
As one of the largest outfits selling poultry equipment, there are few areas that Big Dutchman is not developing products in. The fair had new examples of lighting, ammonia and muck monitors, water cleansing systems among others.
One in particular stood out. With Germany phasing out beak trimming, equipment manufacturers are racing to find solutions that may mitigate the potential negative impact of keeping hens in high-density housing.
The company’s PickPuck intermittently drops feed on to a rough stone circle. The idea is to promote natural foraging behaviour and prevent birds plucking feathers from one another.
Pecking: Natural beak smoothing concept, Roxell
Equipment business Roxell launched a feed pan for broiler breeders with an abrasive surface, smoothing birds’ beaks as they eat.
The firm said it was responding to apparent trends across western Europe, where the routing beak trimming of laying hens and broiler breeders may be banned.
Roxell said the new pans had been three years in development and would be available to customers in the coming months.
Farm culling: Noord Amsterdamse Machinefabriek
This probably wouldn’t work in the UK – but it is an interesting concept. Effectively a wheelie bin hooked up to a gas delivery system, it offers farmers on the continent a relatively inexpensive way to cull stock humanely.
Why not in the UK? Culling birds with a pure carbon dioxide gas is not permitted; argon is the conventional gas used instead. This is more expensive – and dangerous.
Two poultry farming businesses launched cloud-based software at the fair, which promised enhanced analysis of poultry flock performance:
Smart farming: Infinia integrated farm information management system, Fancom
The latest integrated farm information management system from Fancom allows you to access data from your poultry farm 24/7, from anywhere and using any device.
Smooth operation of the Infinia system helps improve time efficiency and prevent errors, and makes it easier to make management decisions, the company clams.
With Infinia, all the information generated by the sensors and computers in the poultry houses – on climate control and feeding, for example – is sent automatically to a central server.
From here, the data can be presented on a PC, table or smartphone, in different formats arranged and displayed to suit the farm’s ways of working – by section, house or farm. The information can also be presented in different ways to meet the needs of each member of farm staff.
Latest information from the poultry houses can be compared with standard index figures, the average of the farm or group average or with previous production cycles.
The farm can easily be managed according to a predetermined plan, and intervention is only needed if the current situation deviates from the plan.
Previously, farm management systems were not always able to communicate with another, so some data needed to be entered manually, and combined information often had to be generated by hand.
This required time as well as specialist knowledge and understanding, and it presented opportunities to introduce errors.
Cloud farming: iMoba, Moba
Egg equipment manufacturer Moba used the fair to launch its iMoba software package, which takes the reams of data produced by its machines and places it on secure servers, where it can be analysed and interpreted by users.
The new concept can be installed on most existing devices, though those older than around six years will need a hardware update.
The new service will offer users the ability to track the condition of eggs passing through graders, and the individual flocks they came from. A premium subscription will allow users to further drill down into data to interpret trends over the entire flock.
Moba will also use anonymised data to allow producers to benchmark their performance against other users of the software, while keeping individual performance figures private in a secure cloud server.