If you had described the capabilities of modern smartphones to someone just five years ago, they would have scarcely believed you.
These days using the “humble” mobile phone you can look up common poultry diseases, calculate dosages for medication and swot up on latest best practice for vaccinations – all from the comfort of your poultry shed.
Poultry World rounds up the applications – or “apps” – that may help poultry farmers in their business.
The six apps highlighted include a tool for measuring bird heat stress, one for delivering market information to a smartphone, and technology to calculate European Production Efficiency Factor.
See also: 16 essential farming apps for 2014
ThermoTool, developed by French feed additive firm Groupe CCPA, offers a straightforward indicator as to whether birds are likely to be in stress in the current climate.
Input your location and the app will work out whether heat stress is likely at the moment in your broiler flock.
What is more, it will pull in weather forecast information for the next five days, and calculate whether heat stress is likely to occur.
You can also input ambient air and heat temperatures manually, and calculate specifically the risk heat levels in a shed present.
Best for: Quickly estimating if weather poses a threat to broilers’ health
Gleadell Agriculture is a major trader of grain in the UK and, in volatile and risk-laden markets, is a renowned trading partner for farmers.
It is also the largest trader of organic grain in the UK and a growing force in the sourcing and delivery of imported and home-produced fertiliser and seed.
Gleadell has developed a trimmed version of its website to run on a smartphone.
You will be able to use it to get the latest grain prices, news stories and market reports.
It also includes fertiliser price trends, product information and varieties, nitrogen calculators, a seed calculator, access to Gleadell’s Xtralite System and links to Twitter.
The app is available on Apple devices, Android and Blackberry.
Best for: Farmers who require a good framework for quick access to grain market prices.
While you could consider this app, priced at £7.99, expensive, remember that the sixth edition of staple vet textbook Poultry Diseases will set you back over £100.
While the app is not as comprehensive, it provides a handy overview of common afflictions that cause health problems in layers, broilers, turkeys and other poultry.
It gives a layman’s overview of the disease, explains the likely problems and describes the probable symptoms.
It outlines which birds are most susceptible, the age they become vulnerable and how the disease is transmitted.
Guides to common treatment and diagnoses are at-hand, as are pictures of how the disease presents.
Best for: Anyone with an interest in the health of the poultry they keep
Using this app, poultry farmers can quickly access European performance standards for Ross 308, 708 and PM3 breeder and broiler stock.
Users can view all the performance objectives, or customise which fields are shown to suit their own requirements.
These settings are then stored.
A built-in European Production Efficiency Factor calculator shows liveability percentage, liveweight in kilograms, age in days and feed conversion ratio to give an instant result.
A unit converter also incorporates industry-specific calculations such as area, length, volume, weight, energy (nutrition), pressure, stocking density, temperature, light and ventilation.
Best for: Benchmarking against key breeder and broiler standards for Ross birds.
Huvepharma dosage guide
Huvepharma has built this relatively straightforward calculator that allows you to check the amount of medication that should be administered to feed or water.
Simply select whether it is medication in water or feed, the concentration of an active ingredient, recommended dose and age of the birds.
Then press “calculate” for a value indicating how much medication should be administered for each 1,000 litres of water or tonne of feed.
At its most basic it offers this straightforward calculation.
But it is also possible to work out daily dosages for a flock or specific values based on bird weight.
Best for: Double checking dosages of any kind of medication added to feed or water
Zoetis vaccination checklist
Animal health outfit Zoetis has developed an interactive checklist that outlines best practice when using its vaccination products.
The programme covers its gumboro vaccine, administered via drinking water, and the infectious bronchitis inoculation.
Users first create a “session”, enter bird type, age and number of birds to vaccinate.
The app then generates a checklist that farm managers should run through to find best practice for vaccination.
Best for: Checking procedures are being carried out properly