Online Growth Control as an Advance in Broiler Farm Management

By Ö. Cangar, J.-M. Aerts, E. Vranken and corresponding author D. Berckmans, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium and published in Poultry Science, Volume 86, Issue 3, March 2007.
calendar icon 1 April 2007
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Growth control in broiler chickens has been proven to be an efficient method to ensure broiler performance and yield and to lessen health problems.

The growth control procedure has been tested in literature using a limited amount of animals in experimental facilities.

Under these "ideal" circumstances, the birds could follow predefined growth trajectories with accuracies ranging from 3.7 to 6% (mean relative error).

The objective of this research was to test the above growth control procedure in the field in a real broiler farm, evaluate its accuracy, and explore its benefits for the broiler farmer.

In this procedure, a model-based control algorithm was used to calculate the feed supply to the broilers with the intention of following a target growth trajectory as close as possible.

A simultaneous small-scale experiment was performed to have an idea about the order of magnitude of the accuracy of the same procedure under "ideal" laboratory conditions.

In farm conditions, the mean relative error between the target trajectory and the weight of the controlled birds was 7.3%. Higher than that under laboratory conditions (2.7%), it was indicative of the challenges of transferring the growth control procedure to real scale.

On the other hand, the growth control procedure has been proved to be beneficial under the farm conditions in the feed conversion ratio. The feed conversion ratio of the controlled group was better (1.64) than the ad libitum-fed ones (1.68).

March 2007

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