Poultry producers across the country can now independently benchmark their flocks to help improve productivity and cut costs.

The first online service of its kind in the UK, Datapoul Performance Manager enables producers to input daily production data and see real-time graphs and performance figures. Initially developed as part of the EU-funded South West Healthy Livestock Initiative, the £180,000 service is now being rolled out nationwide, and has the potential to significantly boost farm returns.

“This is a real opportunity for the poultry sector,” said Gillian Collins, Datapoul project manager. “It’s a sector that has not received much funding in the past, whereas other livestock sectors have been reaping the benefits of benchmarking for years.”

As well as benchmarking against breed standards and similar businesses, producers can record and analyse individual house and crop records for their own use, and to comply with Red Tractor Farm Assured Poultry Scheme and EU Broiler Welfare Directive standards.

Using password-protected internet access, they can input factors such as house temperature, mortality, water and feed consumption, weights, reject and kill data. “Most producers will keep some of this information already, but being able to see real-time data in graph format is incredibly useful,” says Mrs Collins. The system will also send e-mail or text alerts when changes in data indicate a potential problem in a house.

“By inputting data every day, producers become a lot more in tune with their crop; it really focuses your attention.” According to software developer Unitas, a farm finishing 30,000 birds per crop would save up to £5,600 a year in reduced mortality, by identifying disease problems earlier, plus further improvements in feed conversion efficiencies. “That’s a very good return on your investment.”

The website also has a medical module, so farmers can record treatment of any birds, and create a report for food chain information, as well as calculate total antibiotic use per bird produced.

“If we get enough people using the system, we can develop it further to drill down into data analysis for different breeds, as well as including consumables such as gas and shavings.”

Subscriptions cost £30 (+VAT) per month, plus a one-off set-up fee of £250 (+VAT) in the South West or £375 (+VAT) across the rest of the country, including initial assistance in using the website.

* For more information, contact Datapoul on 0844 8486020.