Making the grade: Aviagen's online grading tools help maximise flock potential

Aviagen has developed a set of online grading tools to help with the grading process and enhance flock uniformity - making your flocks easier to manage, be more predictable in response and have more persistent production
calendar icon 9 August 2018
clock icon 4 minute read

Uniform breeder flocks have better performance and welfare. One of the best ways to enhance the uniformity of your flock is by grading. Grading improves flock uniformity by dividing the birds into heavy, average and light groups that can then be managed separately to achieve the same body weight at the onset of production. Each population can then be managed according to its individual needs - resulting in minimal body-weight variation at point-of-lay.

Well worth the investment of time and effort

Successful grading takes time and patience; and must be well-managed - but it’s well worth the effort for the results that can be achieved. Effective grading requires accurate determination of the cut-off weights for each graded population, a clear understanding of the key management tasks required after grading and an appreciation of the issues that can arise during grading - and how to resolve them. Aviagen’s grading tools are intended to help with all these areas.

Aviagen’s grading tool-kit comprises of two applications: firstly, a user-friendly Excel spreadsheet, available in metric and imperial format, to help managers to undertake the actual grading process; secondly, an interactive PDF entitled Grading to Manage Uniformity that provides detailed information on the grading process, pointing out potential pitfalls, as well as solutions to commonly occurring issues. Together, both tools are ideal for on-farm use, and can be downloaded onto any laptop or tablet that has pdf and Excel capabilities.

User-friendly spreadsheet

The spreadsheet tool is designed to be easy to use with minimal data input. The provision of a few simple flock details is all it takes.

  • House dimensions
  • Type of penning
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Bird numbers
  • Sample weight
  • Flock CV% or uniformity
  • Feeder and drinker type

Once this information has been entered, the spreadsheet will calculate the cut-off weights and the number of grading populations required for a flock. It will also provide information on the equipment and space requirements for each graded population.

The spreadsheet has drop-down menus to aid the input of the flock information data, can be used when either adjustable or fixed penning is in place, and determines graded populations based on either CV% or uniformity. The spreadsheet has easy-to-follow instructions and comes with a handy ‘Help’ section.

Data input sheet

Results sheet

Interactive management tool

The problem-solving pdf is an interactive, question–and-answer-style tool which moves step-by-step through the grading process - plus it has a detailed problem-solving section.

By clicking on the area you’re interested in and then working through a series of yes/no-style questions, the entire grading process can easily be followed through in detail, covering everything from how to weigh birds accurately to determining cut-off points. The provision of specific key management information provides a Best Practice grading procedure which is easy to understand and apply.

The problem-solving section of the interactive PDF tool covers a number of areas which are commonly seen to lead to problems after grading; stocking density, feeding, environment, lighting and drinker management.

When a particular area of interest is selected, detailed Best Practice management advice is given, along with easy to follow, practical problem-solving solutions related to that topic.

You can find these online tools, together with a host of other valuable practical management advice, in the Information Library at Aviagen's website

Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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