Layer Vision Issue 25 (EN)
Data insight is added value to poultry breeders, it can also generate new insights and improved understanding of the performance of your flock.
*Issue 25, September 2021*
Discover how data insight
can improve your business
Message from the Editorial Team
This edition of Layer Vision is an exciting one to share with you. This edition is centered on the importance of data. Data collection and data analyses is at the core of our breeding activities, without data we would not be able to make any genetic progress. But data insight is not only of added value to poultry breeders, also on hatchery and farm level it can generate new insights and improved understanding of the performance of your flock.
In this Layer Vision we will share in-house examples of the importance of data, one of these examples is a story on the Eggxaminator, developed to capture more precise data on egg quality. There is more information available on PRIMA, our data collection platform to improve the insight on your flock’s performance. Next to PRIMA we have invited several of our partners from the global egg sector to share with you the latest developments and insights on their data collection platforms.
In this edition we’d also like to share the latest progress on the renewal of all our Canadian research facilities, allowing us to upgrade and expand our R&D activities in North America. We are very pleased to share with you the inspiring story of our customer from Guatemala, INAVÍSA. Driven by data to continuously improve the quality of their operations and the products they sell. They serve as a true example to set the standard for sustainable egg production.
Those who actively follow us on our LinkedIn platform, might have already seen the festive news posts that more and more German egg producers are able to achieve 500 eggs in 100 weeks with their flocks of Dekalb Whites. We have included the inspiring story of the Bronsema family, who have been able to reach EGGcelent results with their very first flock of free-range laying hens. Special attention will also be given to the latest summary of the GUNMA Random Sample Testing Station, where clear benefits are shown for the Hendrix Genetics Layer breeds. This edition will be concluded with the contribution by the global egg sector to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.
We’d also like to thank you, our customers, and friends from the egg sector, for the continuous trust in our products and our people. Only by collaborating we can help to make a significant contribution to sustainable egg production all over the globe. Collecting and actively sharing of field data will help to further improve and finetune the future breeding directions, resulting in improved layer breeds all over the globe.
Completion of state of the art research facilities in North America
State-of-the-art laying hen research facilities now completed in North America
Four new laying hen research barns have been recently completed, located in Cambridge, Canada. Each of these new investments were built with high biosecurity, animal welfare, and environmental standards in mind.
Laying hen improvement is the result of investment and continuous improvement. We heavily invest in our global R&D centers and testing methods to ensure accurate, efficient data collection and subsequent exceptional performance for our customers.
In 2012, we launched an ambitious project to invest in building four new laying hen research facilities in Canada. These barns are designed for the highest biosecurity standards and optimal use of resources. In 2018, the first two laying barns were completed (Maple Lane 1 and Oakdale). This year, we are excited to complete the last stage of this project with the final two facilities: a third laying barn (Maple Valley) and a pullet rearing barn (White Oaks).
Each of these barns were built to the highest biosecurity specifications. When entering the facility, employees change from their outside clothes into coveralls and then proceed through the transitional zone (named the “no man’s land”) to the wet shower. They then shower and change into another set of clean clothes. The extra “dry shower” principle lowers the chance of contaminants transferring into the barns. The barns are set up as “all-in-all-out”, meaning that when restocking, the entire flock is replaced. This allows a period of rest between flocks to allow time for viruses and bacteria in the environment to die.
Sustainability was another important consideration for this investment. For efficient use of resources, the design features LED lighting, motion sensing lighting in the entrance building, high efficiency fans, a wastewater collection system, and an automated manure removal system. Eggs are collected using a conveyer system which was designed so that data collection using handhelds can be completed easily by the staff. The individual pens also measure feed conversion, egg weight, body weights and many traits related to egg quality. This allows better tracking of resources and more automation to reduce our reliance on manual labor.
It was also crucial that the barns set a high standard for a healthy, welfare-friendly environment. The birds are housed in enriched family pens and optimal ventilation specifications, which have been designed for high animal welfare requirements.
The result of these new, state-of-the-art facilities? Efficient, accurate selection in our breeding program. We are also able to increase our testing capabilities in North America, allowing us to even more accurately tailor product performance for the North American market. Value chain excellence starts with great genetics, and we are proud to highlight these new facilities that are an important part of delivering high-quality genetics.
A customer in the Spotlight,
A customer in the Spotlight, PROAVISA, Productos Avícolas SA.
Our collaboration with Proavisa is in place for many decades. We are very proud that companies like Proavisa, have made the choice for our laying hen genetics. Proavisa is built on the fundament of Quality. From breeders, hatchery, rearing the chicks, to delivering the eggs at the doorstep of their customers, it is the Quality and Service that counts!
Proavisa, locally known as the company that produces the highest quality Guatemalan eggs, is nationally associated with quality and transparency. It all started with the grandfather of Mr. José Manuel Segovia, the general manager of Proavisa. His grandfather started in 1953 with a feed mill, he brought concentrate from the United Stated and mixed it locally with corn and other feedstuffs. The company is located now in Amatitlán, on the outskirts of Guatemala City, and currently employs 550 people.
The father of José Manuel, Don Oscar Segovia, started the poultry and egg production activities in the late 60’s, the moment when industrialized poultry production really took off. The first flock in 1969 consisted of just 8.000 laying hens, in a floor system, all manually operated. This is in great contrast with the situation today, almost 1 million laying hens are kept in
state-of-the-art cage housed systems. All the processes are fully automated to make sure that no-one needs to touch the eggs, this to safeguard the Quality from the beginning to the end. José Manuel his father initiated the mechanical processes, and the first cage housed systems were introduced in 1976. The goal has always to be more efficient instead of being bigger. At Proavisa they are clearly investing in technology, size is not the main driver, the investments help to become the best, and to be cost-efficient. José Manuel joined the company in 1991.
In 1998 they were looking for new opportunities in the Guatemala market, this is when they introduced their branded eggs, Granjazul in the supermarkets. They got inspired by an example from Chile. Within 3 weeks that he met his colleague from Chile, José Manuel was in the plane to Chile to learn from this example. During the trip he visited different supermarkets and focused on the marketing, product placement and the promotion (he did not see a single chicken in a farm). As José Manuel is an engineer by education, it was a whole new world that opened his eyes. The brand name originated from the egg trader and producer in Chile. "Since we were little we always came to 'la granja' (that means farm), which was like a reference point", says José Manuel, so the Chilean connected "granja" with the Chilean brand and from there came Granjazul, along with the original logo that had an egg in the little house.
By having a clear package, the customers could see what they were buying. Besides they introduced printing of the expiration date on the eggs (not typical for Guatemala in these days). Granjazul clearly set the standard for premium quality eggs in Central America. Today, the Granjazul brand is recognized all over the country for its Quality, Freshness and Transparency. The largest part of their product portfolio consists of white eggs, but besides the whites they also market brown egg, the “Huevos Artesenales”, which are cage free and the regular brown egg.
During the interview José Manuel proudly mentioned, "at Proavísa, we don't control the quality, we create it, eggs are easy to blame for food poisoning. We are working hard to reassure our customers that the egg they are eating are safe. If at any time we have a problem with any raw material, we can find out where it comes from. That is why we always look for suppliers with a certain level of trust.”
Besides Quality, the Granjazul brand is based on other fundamental pillars such as Safety, Biosecurity, taking care of the Environment and Human Talent. All these pillars have driven them to innovate continuously, they clearly set the standard for the egg market through differentiation and delivering added value of their products and services. Shown by the fact that Proavísa was the very first poultry company in Central and South America to obtain the FSSC 22000 certification in Innocuity (Food Safety Systems Certification). This helps them to protect the confidence and trust of their customers in the company and their products. Last year they have also received the Animal Welfare certification, also for their feed mill they are ISO 9001 certified, and their eggs are Kosher certified.
Proavísa is a fully integrated company, with its own feed mill where it produces feed both for its own activities as well as selling to third parties. The parent stock breeder and hatchery activities are part of INAVISA, a sister company they recently acquired fully (they were already part of the 5 poultry companies that created INAVISA, INAVISA has a long history with the Babcock genetics). The Babcock day-old chicks come from the INAVISA hatchery and are transferred to the Proavísa rearing barns, from where they are being transferred to production farms.
In addition to the parent stock, hatchery, rearing and egg production facilities, they have egg grading, packing, distribution, and marketing activities. They distribute to supermarkets, convenience stores and households under the Granjazul brand. But they also sell eggs to bakeries, pastry manufacturers and food services.
In Guatemala there are several sanitary challenges that egg producers need to deal with, because of this Proavísa has a technical team in place that constantly checks and carries out laboratory analyses to detect any signals of disease. Biosecurity is key, for all processes of poultry farming, egg production and egg handling. The only place where taking a shower is not mandatory prior to entry is the office. Every day there is a big focus on all biosecurity standards.
Proavisa faces the same problems as everyone else, such as the current high world grain prices. Higher feed prices do not perse result in higher prices for eggs that are being sold in the supermarkets. Also, in Guatemala there is the problem of the egg price situation which goes up and down intermittently. Fortunately, Proavisa has focus on efficiency and sustainable egg production allows the company to survive in these challenging circumstances.
COVID-19 also impacted the activities of Proavisa. After toilet paper, eggs were the most popular item to buy during the pandemic resulting in shortages (but good egg prices). To safeguard the continuation of their activities and the health and wellbeing of their employees they have made big investments on the showers, they even rented portable showers to maintain biosecurity. They separated the groups and created smaller teams. Home offices were installed, but we all know the challenges with internet connections, and telephone lines not equipped for home office call centers.
José Manuel has a clear focus, to further improve on efficiency and sustainability when producing eggs. “Clearly there is a need to feed more people with the growing world population, but also the environment should not be forgotten. When you have almost 1 million laying hens, you can make a big impact when steering on efficiency. When you can save a gram per bird a day, we are talking about 1000 kilograms of corn, that’s a whole lot of tortillas!”
There is also a future in home delivery of eggs, an activity that started in 2019, and is growing steadily.
José Manuel does not see a clear trend in Guatemala to go for cage-free eggs. It is also hard to fit this strategy in the global sustainable egg production approach as cage-free results in higher mortality, increased feed consumption and chickens that are in contact with their own manure. This will all negatively impact the quality of the production process, but also the prices for consumers to pay. We should not forget that in a country like Guatemala, there are still many children that go to bed with an empty stomach. At Proavisa there is good focus on animal welfare, especially with chickens housed in cages animal welfare is key, you need healthy birds to produce quality eggs. Focus will remain on how to maintain egg quality (like egg health aspects), salmonella etc. José Manuel mentioned ”it is extremely important for egg producers all over the globe to keep in mind that they produce the best, and one of the cheapest (and sustainable) sources of high-quality animal protein in the world. We, the egg sector, have a massive responsibility to safeguard the production process and the quality of eggs.”
- Located in: Central America (borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador)
- Population: 18.2 million
- Current egg consumption: 200 eggs per capita per year
The Eggxaminator - bringing Egg Quality to the next level
Examining eggs in detail, the Eggxaminator
By Adri Mertens - phenotyping specialist
As a breeding company, we are continuously looking for new methods to improve the quality of our measurements. It is well known that we put a lot of selection pressure on breeding for the highest amount of 1st quality eggs per hen housed. More 1st quality eggs will generate higher revenues and we should not forget that most of the consumers only encounter the egg itself, hardly ever with the hens that produce this amazing superfood. It has already been a few years since we introduced our first Eggxaminator, and since its first introduction, loads of data have been collected and analyzed.
Short wrap up: The Eggxaminator was created in collaboration with Hendrix Genetics Innovations and one of our tech partners from the Brainport Eindhoven region (home to companies such as Philips, ASML, and VDL). The Eggxaminator uses Robotics and Machine Vision technology to examine and collect data on exterior egg phenotypes with large accuracy and consistency.
With the Eggxaminator we focus on 10 different traits, all related to the exterior quality of the egg, with the finest detail. The Eggxaminator takes more than 15 different pictures of one egg, and via automated image analyses, output values are given for each trait. One of the traits that the Eggxaminator can measure is egg mottling. Egg mottling occurs when there is a deviation in calcite columns of the eggshell. Due to these deviations in calcite columns of the eggshell, moisture can accumulate in the spaces between the columns. This moisture appears as translucent spots on the egg (Talbot and Tyler, 1973). Examples of variation in egg mottling is shown in the pictures below.
Another goal when breeding laying hens is to select hens that produce nice and smooth eggshells. A trait that can be sometimes observed when looking to the eggshell are so called sandpaper shells (rough areas that are located on the top/bottom of the egg). Both the top and bottom of the egg are area’s that are graded in much detail by the Eggxaminator. Values are given for the number of irregularities on these sides of the egg. Examples are given below.
Not only appearance of the shell, and shell quality are of interest, also the shape of the egg. It is well known that the shape of the egg plays an important role in overall shell strength. Already used for many years, but now automated in the eggxaminator, is the shape-index. The shape index is an objective way to express the shape of an egg. Egg shape-index is calculated by measuring and dividing the width of the egg by its length. A shape index <0.72 indicates a long egg (often pointy). If the shape index is >0.76 the egg is too round (Piet Simons, 2017). Clear examples of eggs with different shape-index values are shown below.
Photo 1: Shape index 0,695
Photo 2: Shape index 0,742
Photo 3: Shape index 0,814
With all this egg quality data being generated by the eggxaminator, our geneticists have been able to calculate heritabilities. A heritability measures how much of the variation of a trait within a group of animals is caused by genetic variation. As an example, when the heritability of a specific trait is 0.40, it means that 40% of the variation that is observed on that trait is caused by genetic variation among that specific group of animals. As a rule of thumb, the higher the value of a heritability estimation, the faster genetic progress can be achieved.
Please note, when only selecting on 1 specific trait, faster genetic progress can be made, but it will be no surprise that breeding laying hens requires a balanced breeding approach, all traits of interest should go in the desired direction when selecting. But what is all that data telling us? Let’s have a look at 1 of our pure line white egg layers in more detail. We examined and analyzed the eggs during a 2-year period (spring 2019 - spring 2021) with the Eggxaminator. The eggs were collected and analyzed at four different periods: 20-40 weeks of age, 40-60 weeks of age, 60-80 week of age
and 80-100 weeks of age. We have given heritabilities for the traits that we have described earlier, egg mottling, sand index, shape index and on top of that egg weight.
0.40 ± 0.062
0.48 ± 0.058
0.43 ± 0.059
0.38 ± 0.049
0.46 ± 0.065
0.38 ± 0.055
0.37 ± 0.057
0.34 ± 0.045
|Sand index top
0.38 ± 0.063
0.33 ± 0.050
0.32 ± 0.055
0.44 ± 0.050
0.57 ± 0.070
0.48 ± 0.059
0.46 ± 0.054
0.46 ± 0.054
Table 1: Heritably estimations different traits based on Eggxaminator data.
The results from table 1. clearly show the relevance of accurate phenotyping and high-quality data collection. Moderate (0,30-0,50) to high (>0,50) heritabilities, with low and stable standard errors, have been calculated and will help us to keep on improving overall eggshell quality in all our breeds. Accurate data collection is at the core of our breeding program. With the implementation of the Eggxaminator we have been able to further improve our genetic progress on eggshell quality. As a result, our customers will benefit that their laying hen flocks are able to produce more 1st quality eggs per hen housed with every new generation, clearly setting the standard for sustainable breeding.
Celebrating success together
Celebrating success together
By Hans van Sleeuwen - Area Manager Europe
Achieving 500 eggs in 100 weeks is for us an eggcellent reason to celebrate, especially when it is the very first flock of laying hens managed by this egg producer. Enough reasons for us to bring a visit to the Bronsema family, located in the German rural district of Cuxhaven.
Together with the team of ab ovo (the distributor of Hendrix Genetics breeds in Germany) we were invited by the Bronsema family (consisting of Hauke, Bente, their 2 daughters and 1 baby on its way) for a tour and a BBQ on their farm. Next to the farm workers and their families, also their friends from the local egg industry were invited to join this festivity, think of their feed supplier, the team of poultry veterinarians, the representatives of farm cleaning and biosecurity services and their neighboring egg producers. As such accomplishment does not go unnoticed, also the local newspaper, and the German poultry press were present. The Bronsema family bought the farm a few years ago.
When they bought the farm there was an older broiler house on the site, which they have converted into an aviary barn combined with wintergarden and a free-range. Bente is managing the free-range layer farm together with two employees, while her husband, Hauke, is the managing director of a regional cooperative. Both Hauke and Bente have studied agricultural engineering.
From left to right: Frits Röhrs - ab ovo, Hans van Sleeuwen - Hendrix Genetics, Lars Raterink - ab ovo and the Bronsema family
About the farm
The farm holds the capacity for 14,999 laying hens, the barn measures 15 x 70 m inside, and it is adjoined on 1 side by a winter garden of 8 meters deep. On the opposite outside wall of the barn, the supply air flaps were moved from the bottom to the top, and three additional ventilators were installed to improve the interior climate for the hens. The barn consists of three rows of aviaries, all with an internal egg belt. An additional water line has been installed in the lower level of the aviaries, this to stimulate the use of this lower level. Oval shaped perches have been installed as these will allow the hens to have better grip and are better able to relax.
A second broiler house, right next to the converted house, accommodates the egg collection and egg sorting room. It also hosts the climate-controlled egg storage room, and technical and sanitary rooms. During the tour it became clear that strict hygienic and biosecurity measures have been implemented at all levels of the farm.
How to achieve these results?
This very first flock, consisting of 14.999 Dekalb Whites laying hens coming from distributor ab ovo, had a great start. The Dekalb Whites are characterized by their Premium Performance: high egg laying persistency, great egg quality towards the end and overall outstanding livability (graph 1). We have asked the Bronsema family about their secret, how is it possible to get these premium results with so little experience in keeping laying hens?
Next to having excellent biosecurity in place, great genetics, and good quality pullets, it is all about having a great team and having and maintaining the full overview of the flock. Accurate data, and daily data collection is key when you are managing a flock. But never forget to also listen to your flock and observe the flock. Daily flock inspections are an absolute must. Not only inside the barn, but also outside in the range.
It is also important to ask advices from the feed companies, the hatchery, the egg packing station and the poultry veterinarians. And it is good to consult them prior to the arrival of the new flock.
As a result of these consultations, the Bronsema family decided to apply split feeding. The hens are fed according to the split feeding principle, i.e. making use of two different feeds: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning feed makes up about 40% of the total amount and contains more energy and protein than the afternoon feed, while in the afternoon a feed with a higher calcium content is used, as the calcium can be used for the eggshell formation during the night.
Dekalb Whites looking stunning at 100 wks of age
It was planned to deplete the flock the day after the celebration, still allowing us to get a good view of this flock that was already over 100 weeks of age. Despite the warm and hot weather, several birds were foraging in the range, and many were enjoying a nice dust bath in the wintergarden. Overall feather condition was still looking good. Few missing feathers were visible at the back, which occurred during the stress of the lockdown that this flock experienced themselves. The hens had to be kept inside for several months during the winter period to lower the risk of getting Avian Influenza (the
Cuxhaven region lies in the heart of the migratory zone of wild birds in Europe).
Overall premium results that the Bronsema family has been able to achieve with their 1st flock of Free-Range Dekalb White laying hens! Their future Dekalb White flock is currently being reared by ab ovo and is expected to arrive in a few weeks. Allowing sufficient time for proper cleaning and to enjoy the summer.
Data coming from the field: latest update on RST GUNMA
Data coming from the field: latest update on RST GUNMA
By Ivan Bedetti - Product Data Analyst
Data coming from Random Sample Tests (RST) are one of the most objective proof of genetic progress over the years. Earlier this year, we presented the summary of 60 years of Random Sample Testing at the North Carolina Layer and Performance and Management Test. This overview marked the effects of our balanced breeding program in which we focus on sustainability: to improve the number of first quality eggs per hen housed. By this, we focus highly on sustainability, as more eggs will result in higher egg mass and lower feed conversions, and flocks that stay fit and healthy will have a higher chance to survive and maintain egg laying persistency. This contributes to more sustainable egg production and it’s reduction on the global carbon footprint.
The results of Gunma RST (Japan) are in line with this general tendency. We have gathered the data of 6 years of testing at the Gunma research station; from 2013-2014 to 2018-2019. In the North Carolina test we focused on general tendencies of all layer breeds, here with the Gunma test we were able to adopt a more detailed point of view and have the focus on the results of HG and its competitors. Let’s have a look at some findings.
Over the years, the Gunma results clearly show that the HG breeds (a full overview of the participating breeds is provided at the end) have a higher Hen Day production during the last 5 consecutive years in a row.
As expected, next to Hen day Production %, also the number of eggs produced per hen housed is dominated by the HG breeds over the competitor breeds. At Hendrix Genetics we are selecting our layer breeds already for more than 1 decade for 100-week cycles.
Next to the ability to produce eggs persistently, a clear focus is on livability. Vital hens that stay alive and in excellent condition are essential to reach the objective of 500 eggs in 100 weeks. By looking at the graphs below (we have differentiated between white and brown egg layer breeds) one can quickly notice the consistent achievements of the HG breeds. During the past 5 test the HG breeds outperformed the competition on the total number of eggs produced per hen housed.
More eggs easily result in higher egg mass produced per hen, even when certain breeds have a somewhat smaller egg size profile. In the end more eggs are being produced, and higher egg mass is quickly adding up with every extra egg being produced: a win-win for all. As can be seen from the graph below the overall performance of the HG breeds turns out to be very positive compared to its competitors. During all test better performances related to the average daily egg mass produced is measured for the HG breeds.
Better egg laying persistency and higher daily egg mass produced requires a higher daily energy requirement. But as more eggs are being produced (resulting in higher egg mass) this higher energy requirement (feed intake) is compensated. When looking at the average feed conversion ratios over the 6 different tests for the white and brown breeds, we do not observe large nor consistent differences between the HG breeds compared to their competitors. It should not be forgotten that higher productivity and higher egg mass produced will result in a higher income for egg producers, as the revenues from the egg sales will
compensate the higher energy requirements of the laying hens.
The data coming from the latest 6 Gunma RST’s clearly show that the efforts and investments done on the breeding programs of Hendrix Genetics are paying off. Consistent competitive advantage is shown for all economic traits. A well-designed and balanced breeding program, with a dedicated focus on sustainability, clearly pays off in terms of egg production and total egg mass produced for every hen that got housed.
Improving flock results by data collection
Improving flock results by data collection
By Estella Leentfaar - Nutritionist
It is no secret that insight in daily water and feed intake is essential to steer chick development and egg production. We observe that proper monitoring of water intake is too often neglected. While if water intake is reduced, feed intake will likely reduce shortly after, and consequently egg production will drop, or growth will be reduced. To take advantage of the full genetic potential of your laying hens, it is important to respond on the early warnings that your flock is giving you. Next to that, make sure that the chicks and hens always have access to good quality drinking water and feed.
Early warnings include a sudden change in water and feed intake, collecting data daily and interpretating this data on the day of collecting is crucial. Visualising the data (making graphs) will often help to interpret the data quick and easy. Be aware, the interpretation of the results is as reliable as the quality of the data!
Start with defining which data is the most important to help you managing the flock and define how often you would like to collect this parameter. And once again, make sure that the data that you collect is reliable. Tip: if you would like to compare flocks or barns, the data should be collected in a similar way. Collected data can be easily compared to other/previous flocks and breed standards (all global breed standards are available online, and in excel files upon request). Do take into account that traits can deviate from the standards, farm management, disease, rearing period and poultry diets can heavily impact the flock results.
A sudden drop in feed intake or water intake is often one of the early warnings that something is happening. A drop in water and feed intake can have several causes, think off stress due to vaccination, environmental stress (heat stress), a different flavour or texture of the feed, antinutritional factors or mechanical system failures. Investing in feed monitoring can be challenging and costly, for example when having no automated measuring system, you can only make a rough estimate from the feed left in the silos. However, monitoring of
water intake via a water meter system is cheap and provides objective data. This data can be very well used as a first warning to indicate possible issues if monitoring and interpretation is done on a regular basis.
Chickens are sensitive for changes in feed ingredients. For example, when switching to another feed phase, or when adding new raw materials (think off raw materials which were not used before, or as well as a new harvest). Also, sudden increases of currently used raw materials in chicken diets can impact the feed intake. Chickens are not only sensitive to the amount of feed ingredients, but especially for quality of the feed. Moults, fat rancidity or too high calcium levels have a big impact on feed quality. Too drastic and too sudden changes in diets, or reduced quality of feed ingredients can directly result in reduced feed intake.
Laying hens are very sensitive to feed structure, it is advised to use the same feed structure during the rearing period (note: from 5 weeks onwards) as fed during the laying phase. To improve the knowledge about what you are feeding to your birds, it is important to check the feed structure in the feeders. Why at the feeders? Each transport, like transportation from the feed mill to the silo, or from the silo to the feeders, can decrease the feed structure quality and cause segregation of the feed. This should be taken into account when defining optimal feed structure quality. Keep in mind that a sudden increase in feed or water intake might be caused by an operational issue. An increase in water intake can be related with a suboptimal barn climate or with a leak in the water supply. Also broken feed hoppers, or broken feed chains can be detected by investigating these sudden drops.
There are more traits that can be easily tracked and traced. Think of regular body weight measurements that can be taken during both the rearing (weekly) and production (monthly) periods. Focus and steering timely on body weight will help to steer the flocks’ future egg laying performance. At the onset of lay, it is key to stimulate body weight development. The body weight should be stable from around 35 weeks onwards as this helps to prevent the laying hens from fattening. To get a reliable body weight monitoring, it is
important to measure the chicks from day-old till 30 weeks of age once a week, followed by monthly measurements from 30 weeks onwards. Make sure you take a representative sample size, floor housed chicks and laying hens can easily by measured via an automatic scale, 24/7 registering data, or by catching. For cage housed birds, identify few cages well distributed across the barn, and follow the chickens inside those cages during their lifetime. Changes in egg weight are good indicators for the health, welfare, management and for sure nutrition. Sudden reductions in egg size should be considered as an early alert. Obviously, egg size monitoring requires a well-defined approach: focus on the same time of the day, and the same nests or egg belts. Today’s egg grading machines do offer more recording options, which can be very well used in monitoring egg weight and egg quality. Also, the egg grading reports from the egg packers can provide loads of valuable information.
Depending on the size of the silo and the daily amount of feed being used, new feed is being delivered on a regular basis. As a reference it is good to collect several feed samples of every batch, especially when you suspect that the feed is causing reduced flock performance. Tip: if you would like to collect a feed sample, make sure you that you take a representative feed sample from at least 500 grams. To get a better understanding of feed quality, different analyses are available to determine both the physical and the chemical quality. Physical quality of mash feed can be checked via a feed sieve analysis. General chemical
analyses consist of NIRS or wet chemistry analysis, this can be used for individual raw materials or for complete chicken feed. Depending on the prevalence, raw materials can be analysed for harmful and toxic substances, like mycotoxins or salmonella. Depending on specific symptoms of the flock, you might consider performing additional analyses: like vitamin analysis, mineral analysis, or amino acid analysis. Keep in mind it is only useful to perform some laboratory analysis if you can compare the values with the formulated values.
In the ideal world, you would be able to capture data on the individual level and manage each chicken to her individual needs. But as we are dealing in the egg and poultry sector with ever-growing flock sizes this remains rather challenging. But developments seem to be on their way as applied research is being done on individual feeding stations for laying hens. The above article shows that already on flock level you can generate a lot of data. Improving flock data collection on a daily or weekly basis and making this data visual will help you in better understanding what your flock is trying to tell you. Our technical experts are more than willing to help with interpreting the data and identify the challenges the flock is facing and in providing solutions.
Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) describes a physical-optical analysis method based on spectroscopy in the range of short-wave infrared light. The method originally comes from the medical sector but has been used in agriculture for many years. For analysis, the feed sample is irradiated with near infrared light. With the help of reflection, the NIRS sensor can detect the ingredients based on the difference between irradiated and reflected light.
Data Insight: what your flock is telling you
<a href="https://publications.hendrix-genetics.com/story/layer-vision-issue-25-en/page/9/3" style="display:inline;">• Eggbase</a>
<a href="https://publications.hendrix-genetics.com/story/layer-vision-issue-25-en/page/9/5" style="display:inline;">• Porphyrio®</a>
<a href="https://publications.hendrix-genetics.com/story/layer-vision-issue-25-en/page/9/7" style="display:inline;">• Aniprev</a>
Data Insight: what your flock is telling you
By Teun van de Braak - Product Manager of Hendrix Genetics Layers
In this chapter:
A poultry farm generates a lot of data, day in day out. Daily feed intake, growth, egg production, are just few of the data being recorded on the farm. This data can be of great value to your management, as it tells you a lot. But managing this data can be a challenge, as it is different compared to managing your flock. In large parts of the world data is still collected by making use of pen and paper, or also (too) often seen, not recording the data at all. We have developed an application (PRIMA) in which most of the day-to-day data generated at the poultry farm can be stored easily on your mobile phone. This structured way of data collection, and data visualization allows you to be 24/7 in control of your flock(s).
It is preferred to collect data daily in a structured way and enter that data in the flock management solution on the same day that it is being collected. This will allow you to better understand what is going on in the poultry house at this moment. When you collect data on a weekly basis, you are always running behind the facts. From the human perspective, 1 week does not seem so to be so long, but from the birds’ perspective it is a significant time, especially when you rear laying hens or keep broilers. When data is collected in a standardized and structured way, it is easier for the egg producer and the technical experts to understand the actual situation at the farm.
The PRIMA application allows you to be 24/7 in control of your flock(s). The big benefit is that you do not need a connection to use the application as data can be entered and stored offline. Also, you can make use of the remote access functionality, you can easily share your flock with other poultry farmers and poultry farming experts. This can assist them in helping your flock from a distance and they can verify that your flock is doing well in terms of health and productivity. This digital data sharing functionality of PRIMA can help you to steer in time and save money through the entire production cycle. Most flock management tools will help you to visualize the data with graphs and tables plotted against the breed standard. Visualization will help to better understand how your flock is performing and responding to your management. A warning pops up if unexpected drops in egg production or feed consumption occur, but also when mortality is increased. PRIMA offers timely insight into what is happening with your flock.
The benefit of using PRIMA (or any other flock management solution) is that your data is stored in a structured way, allowing to compare easily between flocks/houses. Data is getting more substantial, but never forget the biological understanding of this data. Chickens are living creatures, and you must observe the flock’s behavior daily, as not all information that your flock is telling you can be captured in data. It is the combination of data visualization and capturing the signals from your flock with your own eyes that can help you to steer your flock in time, which will help to improve the results of your farm.
Tip: we have made easy video tutorials on how to use the PRIMA application, check them out!
PRIMA is available for download in both iOS and Android device.
Are you no yet ready to use mobile apps? Contact your area or sales manager to ask for handy and easy to use excel-sheets for your breed(s) of interest. Next to our own still rather basic PRIMA application, more extensive poultry management solutions are available to the global egg and poultry sector. These solutions come in various forms, target various user audiences (from breeders to egg-packers and veterinarians), and various species (almost any feathered farm animal). We have asked several suppliers of these data management solutions to share their insights on data collection and how their poultry management solutions can contribute towards improved data insight and better flock results. Explore Eggbase, Porhyrio and Aniprev.
Eggbase helps to unlock the power of data
By Anne Fleck - Managing Director at Eggbase Ltd
Based in the UK, an innovative poultry software platform is improving efficiency across the world, including UK, Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Africa and it has recently been installed by Hendrix Genetics’ Layers distributor in the UK, Joice and Hill.
Eggbase (see here) were the first company in the UK to take advantage of the cloud to facilitate the centralisation and permissioned sharing of data across the egg and poultry industry for benchmarking and modelling. They now have a unique understanding of the intricacies and digital needs of the egg laying, egg packing and pullet rearing sector.
Their layer and poultry software is designed with the goal of making remote data collection and data analysis accessible to the entire egg and poultry supply chain from hatchery to packer to retailer. The objective was to increase productivity, improve animal health, monitor environmental living conditions, whilst simultaneously improving profitability, resilience and sustainability of the egg sector. Modules include a carbon footprint tool (see here), process controller and IoT sensor compatibility for real-time data entry and Eggbase Assure (see here), a customised document management system for stress-free audits and regulatory compliance that stores farm documents in one place and makes them remotely accessible to stakeholders. Users can also customise Eggbase to their specific requirements and access bespoke graphical representations to easily interpret complex data.
Paula Jordan of Greenfield Foods, who manage 1.4 million birds on 74 locally owned farms in 100 houses across Ireland, was an early adopter of Eggbase software: “We haven’t looked back since we began using the platform in 2011. It Improves efficiency and transparency, saves time and costs, and increases control of producer packing and traceability”, she says. “The system is easy to use, it integrates seamlessly with our Moba egg grader, self-generating farm billing. Our producers can see their flocks on the web, where they get graphs of egg size and comparisons to breed standards. As an added bonus, Anne and her team are lovely to deal with and we recommended them to Ready Egg in Northern Ireland.”
Access and share data across geographically remote farms
The collection of daily flock and medical data through iOS and Android apps, tablets or laptops and the analysis of this data using a flexible data analytics web platform allows pullet rearers and producers (see here), packers (see here) , feed suppliers (see here) and vets (see here) to record, monitor, aggregate, correlate and benchmark production and output data such as egg numbers, egg quality and grading results.
Hannah Steenson of The Nest Box Egg Company Ltd in Co. Monaghan had this to say about the software: “We originally used the software as a flock management tool to predict egg size. In 2016, we started to use it as a grade tool. Before we adopted this method, all grades were entered manually but now can be done with a few clicks! We do it all in half a day, where previously it took 10 days, which is a massive time saving. Anne has been excellent at helping customise and develop the software specifically for our needs.”
Benchmarking provides remote transparency across multiple poultry farms and flocks and helps in the understanding of how a flock is performing and responding to management interventions. It enables peer and field officer support with real-time visualisations of both physical and financial poultry flock data across current and historical flocks. Comparative data from the field helps breeders (see here) adjust their genetic breeding programmes. Pharmaceutical companies, researchers and equipment manufacturers (see here) can all benefit from on-the-ground data collection to help with innovation. Erik Pettersson of Stjärnägg in Sweden said, “Put simply, we save 3 days a week in administration by using this approach.”
A unique fully integrated egg and poultry carbon footprint tool
The unique Eggbase carbon footprint tool (see here) is fully integrated for easy data collection and the carbon footprint methodology is embedded into the Eggbase software, enabling the calculation of a full carbon footprint for individual pullet, egg layer and broiler flocks. Model flocks for net zero scenario planning can also be created. It has been four years in development and Eggbase has recently taken on a Law & Environment Masters graduate to head up client support in this area.
The integration of carbon footprint calculations allows for easy remote collection of emissions and sequestration carbon footprint data by packers, retailers, feed suppliers or breeders to inform their own mandatory Scope 3 carbon emissions.
Tom Willings of Stonegate Farmers, who pack eggs for Waitrose and Marks and Spencer, says, “We use Eggbase to benchmark flock performance, to aid our field support teams and monitor flock health. All Stonegate producers use Eggbase and therefore, by inference, our customers are all working with the Eggbase carbon calculation tool.”
For information about Eggbase, please contact us via Eggbase website or email@example.com (Anne Fleck, Managing Director, Eggbase Ltd).
Porphyrio® - digitalization is the next stage of optimization
By Kristof Mertens - Global Business Development Porphyrio® at Evonik PLF
Digitalization is the next stage of optimization – How Big Data, biostatistics and smart algorithms can help you increase efficiency and profitability in egg production
Precision livestock farming (PLF) technologies from sensors to Big Data can help farmers improve productivity and decrease costs, while at the same time reducing their environmental footprint. Ultimately, moving to the next stage of optimization within the boundaries of sustainable production requires an even better understanding of the needs of the individual animal, along with a further integrated approach to farm management.
At Evonik PLF we believe that digital technologies – ICT technologies like the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data – combined with animal science and biostatistics will enable the industry to get a much better grip on livestock production and gain an unprecedented in-depth knowledge of what really happens on a farm. One major part of PLF is the continuous collection and monitoring of a wide variety of farm data from feed to health. On the basis of this data, farmers can make better-informed decisions earlier in the process and create optimal living conditions for the animals. This leads to improved results on key performance indicators such as yield, animal health and welfare, technical performance, environmental impact, and – last but not least – financial performance. Following an animal-centric approach, Porphyrio® supports your poultry production management using Big Data, biostatistics and scientific self-learning algorithms. A variety of customizable software solutions improves poultry production and product quality through holistic monitoring of parameters that matter and a smart early warning system which notifies users of arising problems. Porphyrio® optimizes planning based on accurate predictions and enables the right decisions to be taken, at the right time, to maximize return on investment.
Porphyrio® adopts a three-step approach to enable optimized poultry production along the complete production chain: monitor daily production, predict performance of your flocks and plan your egg production. The dashboard is completely customizable to your company’s needs, giving insight into, and control over, your processes. Cloud-based self-learning algorithms predict the outcome of livestock farming, taking into account all crucial elements of production: feed, climate, health, welfare, and many more parameters. Our expertise is firmly rooted in animal science and biostatistics. In combination with the latest advancements in Big Data technology, Porphyrio® represents safety, reliability, and accuracy. Whether your company is an individual farm or a vertically integrated egg producer, the modular and functional flexibility of our systems enables us to find the best solution for you.
Moreover, Porphyrio® can assist any stakeholder along the production chain in taking the right decisions at the right time. For instance, a veterinarian can plan and keep track of vaccinations, treatments or feed additives applied to the animals. In combination with the non-invasive test kit ScreenFloX®, another Evonik PLF solution, it is even possible to monitor relevant pathogenic germs in the flock. A farm manager can use the interactive Benchmark Module to compare the performance of his flocks internally, and even with the market. Overall, Porphyrio® embraces your company’s digitalization strategy to improve efficiency and increase profitability of your operation.
Porphyrio® is the digital pillar of Evonik’s PLF system house which combines science, expert knowledge, intelligent software and connectivity into a comprehensive solution for poultry production, with a focus on animal nutrition, animal health and animal farming.
Would you like to know how to achieve actionable insights and better results using Porphyrio®? Contact us via Porphyrio® website or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aniprev - monitoring and reactivity for your flock
By Pierre Lanckriet - General Manager at Aniprev
Founded in 2015, present in 41 countries, and available in 8 different languages through several thousand users. Users are individual farmers as well as companies connected to large numbers of farmers (like feed companies).
Aniprev is an online farm tool available for various poultry species, where flock data can be registered. The data can be entered manually and offline. Data can be registered through the Aniprev scale, air sensors or directly to the farm computer. A completely new version will be launched in the Fall of 2021 to meet the growing demands of our customers, including (but not only) an easy way to connect Aniprev with farm computers and the various languages.
Aniprev was designed to answer the needs of Farmers who must perform in an increasing complicated farming environment. There are 3 types of users, the farmers, the technician and the administrator. To ease the work an app was designed for the farmers and the technicians who most of the time have several sites to monitor. The data can be entered daily, per double day (useful after a weekend) or per period. The phone application can be used to easily enter the data and to have a quick overview of the main farm parameters through visuals and tables. More in-depth insight is accessible via the web application. The administrator, who has only access via the web app, can easily focus on statistics and quality.
The user is in full control of the data, which can be easily shared with technical supports, like feed companies or the veterinarian. Once data-sharing is activated, the flock data becomes available to all followers. If there seems to be a data issue or if an event (like hygiene monitoring) was not performed an email-notification will be sent to the farmers and the technicians. It is also possible to add photos or videos to notes to have a better understanding of the situation.
Aniprev can adapt itself and allows you to choose your own criteria’s and set your own standards. Aniprev provides full insight during the rearing period, allowing you to know your flock, the % mortality you faced, the feed conversion ratio, the numbers sold and the average age. At the egg farm you can label your egg criteria, connect Aniprev with your egg packer, the number of eggs per hen housed. You can calculate your remuneration daily to see the efficiency of a new feed formula and to compare the gross margin of each flock. Aniprev allows the farmer to compare himself with other producers in the region.
To sum up, Aniprev allows the farmer to be linked with his partners to have all the information needed in two or three clicks. It does not require extra labor and makes life easier. To improve the performances of the farmers the extra pair of eyes of technical support can help. Quick access to the data is required to allow them to provide better support. Aniprev provides a very great overview of all the flocks through an easy-to-use dashboard, where pictograms and colored arrows show an improvement or a decrease in the parameter.
The followers have also access to the agenda with all scheduled actions of the farmers. If the action was performed a check mark appears. Poultry veterinarians can add their prescriptions to the system and to the farmers agenda, so a reminder pops-up.
The administrator has the full overview of a group of producers. The administrator can give access to Aniprev, specify the feed formulas, create the production standards and prepare the list of documents required. The administrator has full access to the statistics of the different flocks within the group, can benchmark and compare between breeds, feed formulas, and treatments.
For further details, please contact us via Aniprev website or email@example.com.
Setting the standard for sustainable animal production together
Setting the standard for sustainable animal production together
As an animal breeding company, we believe that sustainability should be fully integrated through every element of the egg sector and aspire to a global egg value chain that is environmentally sound, socially responsible, and economically viable. We strive to set the standard for sustainable animal breeding and are convinced that our current breeding approaches contribute towards more sustainable egg production. Decades of genetic selection for improved laying hens and innovations and improvements in the entire egg sector have contributed to the fact that egg production is one of the most environmental-friendly forms of agricultural production as hens convert feed into high-quality animal protein very efficiently and require a relatively small land base to do so. However, as a breeding company we are always striving for continuous improvement, and together with the entire egg sector, we have committed to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). In 2015, 193 world leaders committed to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals represent a shared vision to eradicate poverty and social inequality, and tackle climate change by 2030.
Figure 1. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
We are proud of the improvements that the egg sector has already made to deliver positive outcomes in line with these targets. In 2018, the International Egg Commission (IEC) announced the Global Initiative for Sustainable Eggs (GISE). The GISE is an initiative to champion continuous development and improvement in sustainability across the global egg value chain through collaboration, knowledge sharing, sound science and leadership. The GISE initiative supports a range of ambitious sustainability objectives, helping to deliver the egg sector’s vision of continuous improvement. Of the 17 SDGs, the global egg industry has identified 7 primary SDGs where it is already making a significant impact through a range of dedicated sustainability initiatives.
In 2020, 149.2 million children under the age of 5 years were stunted and 45.4 million were wasted globally. The egg industry recognizes its role in helping to prevent hunger around the world. Eggs are a sustainable, affordable source of the highest quality protein. They contain the majority of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants required by the body and have been proven to be associated with better growth, cognitive performance and motor development among children, particularly in low-income countries. Through its charitable work, the International Egg Foundation (IEF) is tackling food poverty experienced in developing countries, such as eSwatini and Uganda, through an ever-broadening range of community-based programmes.
Good health and well-being
Eggs are recognized as a high-quality protein and contain 13 vitamins and minerals. The bioavailability and density of their nutrients means eggs have the capacity to directly improve human health outcomes around the world. Furthermore, eggs are a good source of commonly deficient micronutrients, such as vitamins D and B12. The egg industry is committed to increasing awareness of the positive benefits of egg products, in relation to good health and wellbeing.
Egg consumption supports brain development and concentration, particularly in young children. The egg industry is dedicated to educating the world about the value eggs provide, in terms of nutrition, environment and livelihoods. Additionally the IEF is responsible in its role as educational trustee for initiatives in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and eSwatini, providing education and resources that enable individuals to support their communities by becoming successful egg producers.
Decent Work and Economic Growth
The egg industry is a significant source of income for rural populations around the world. There are over two million egg farmers globally, most of whom work on small family farms that provide a regular source of food and income.
In low and middle-income countries, women represent a large proportion of egg farmers and they rely on their farms to provide food for their families and income to send their children to school. To demonstrate the industry’s commitment to supporting decent work, the World Egg Organisation (WEO) adopted the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) resolution on forced labour in April 2018. This commitment made the egg industry the first global commodity group to take these steps to promote human rights and decent working conditions.
Responsible Consumption and Production
The egg industry is committed to producing nutritious foods in environmentally sound and responsible ways. While eggs are officially recognised as a low impact protein source, egg businesses are always looking for new ways to make production more environmentally sustainable. Examples of this can be seen around the world, from Australia, where 10 of the country’s 12 largest egg producers have already implemented some form of solar energy on their farms, to Canada, where the first net zero barn is in operation. The egg industry is also actively working towards more sustainable soy sourcing to help prevent deforestation in South America. In addition to environmental sustainability, the egg industry is also committed to caring for its birds. Through the IEC, the industry is working with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to improve the welfare of laying hens through the establishment of a framework of global standards.
Egg businesses continually strive to reduce the resources they use whilst ensuring the same level of output. Thanks to new efficiencies and significant productivity gains, eggs have a low carbon footprint. In 2010, the environmental footprint of a kilogram of eggs produced in the US had reduced by 65% compared to 1960, with greenhouse gas emissions reducing by 71%. To champion the continuous development and improvement of environmentally sustainable practices throughout the egg value chain, the IEC has brought together an Environmental Sustainability Expert Group. This enables best practice and the latest thinking to be shared throughout the egg industry globally.
Partnerships for the Goals
As global representative of the egg industry, the IEC plays an important role in bringing together countries and organisations to achieve these SDGs. To this end, the organisation continues to develop constructive relationships with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and major egg associations worldwide, as well as sustaining communication with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to address a range of sustainability issues.
You've just read about the egg industry’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
To find out more about the International Egg commission and its’ activities.
Egg recipe: Tamagoyaki Japanese Omelette
Tamagoyaki, Japanese Omelette
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- cooking oil as needed
- First, beat your eggs well in a bowl using either a fork, or chopsticks if you are an expert chopstick user.
- Add one tablespoon each of soy sauce, mirin and sugar and a little salt to your mix.
- Put a small amount of cooking oil in your pan and bring it up to medium heat. Keep some kitchen roll handy to help keep the pan oiled during cooking.
- Add a small amount of your egg mix into the heated pan. Once the egg has cooked slightly so that the top is still slightly uncooked, push it over to the side of your pan.
- Add a little more oil to the pan using the kitchen roll and add another small amount of the egg mix to your pan. Again, wait for this to cook a little, but before it sets on top. You can then begin to roll the first bit of egg over the mix you just put in the pan until you have a small roll of egg. Continue adding a small amount of egg while oiling the pan each time in between. As you add more egg and roll it up each time, your egg roll will start getting larger and easier to add new layers. Keep adding the egg in new layers until you have used it all up.
- Your tamagoyaki is now finished so remove from the pan and wait to cool before slicing it up into thin pieces with a sharp knife.
Colophon & Disclaimer
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | Nels Koppes - Marketing Associate | Teun van de Braak - Product Manager | Special contribution: Adri Mertens, Estella Leentfaar, Ivan Bedetti, Anne Fleck, Kristof Mertens, Pierre Lanckriet, Phuc Nguyen | This magazine has been prepared by ISA B.V. to inform readers of its activities in the broadest sense. It is by no means intended to be complete, not even on the aspects mentioned herein. There are no implied or explicit guarantees given by ISA B.V. and its shareholders as to the accuracy and completeness of the provided information in this magazine.