MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), LINK Project (LK0612 1998)
News Release from Silsoe Research Institute, Bedford (The academic Co-ordinator)
Integrated Management Systems for Poultry Production
In this three-year research project we aim to develop a system which will enable broiler producers to grow birds that meet the exacting requirements of their customers. For example, supermarkets often wish to sell chickens on a fixed weight basis so that all the birds in a particular display can be sold for a fixed price per bird rather than on a price per weight basis. This means that if a supermarket orders chickens of a particular weight from a producer, they are not prepared to accept birds of significantly different weights.
In the system that we are developing, chickens are monitored very closely to ensure that they reach the right weight at the right time. The birds are weighed automatically. In each broiler house there are a number of special perches fitted with an electronic system to measure the weight of any bird that perches on them. In this way, birds are weighed continuously without the need to catch any of them and weigh them manually, which can be a very time-consuming operation and subjects the birds to unnecessary stress.
Every day a computer will be able to tell the farm manager the right composition and quantity of feed to give the birds to make sure that all their requirements are met and that they continue to grow as well as possible. If for any reason the birds are not growing as well as they should do, the manager is alerted by the system so that he can investigate the problem. The chickens will therefore be monitored much more closely than has previously been possible. This will bring economic benefits to the producer by helping him to provide what his customer wants, it will benefit bird welfare by ensuring that their nutritional requirements are always met, and it will also bring benefits to the environment by reducing excess nitrogen excretion.
The LK0612 project, which started in 1998, is in the LINK Sustainable Livestock Production Programme, with funding from MAFF and the project partners, who are David Filmer Limited, Premier Poultry Limited, Silsoe Research Institute and Stonefield Systems.