Sharing data can help manage layer farm disease, increase production

Using farm intelligence tools allows for on-farm benchmarking
calendar icon 27 January 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

Sharing and analyzing data at farm level and beyond can offer new insights that improve bird health and profitability on layer farms, according to a poultry industry expert.

Ian Rubinoff, DVM, director of global technical services for Hy-Line International, said utilizing data on mortality, body weight, egg size and overall production was enabling poultry companies to better understand a farm’s performance.

By using farm intelligence tools such as Hy-Line’s VisionEgg benchmarking program, companies can compare information across farms within a business, against countrywide data or even against breeds around the world, giving producers a clearer picture of how their operations stack up — and where there might be hidden health issues that need addressing.

“As a veterinarian, I did not expect to be working as much with data as I am now,” Rubinoff told Poultry Health Today. “We have found this to be a very valuable tool, not only just in production but in helping veterinarians and production people understand disease calendars.”

Making data work on the ground

To ensure that knowledge derived from the analysis brings practical results, Rubinoff said it was important that those handling the data are in regular contact with people on the farm.

“You have to be very proactive,” he explained. “From the time that the chicks arrive on the farm, you are already setting the stage for how they’ll perform the rest of their lives. So, we need to not only be working with the current flocks but taking the lessons we learn and extending that out to future flocks.

“For instance, on the brooding side, if we see that we’re running half a percent or a percent higher in mortality, particularly between 10 and 30 days, we might be looking at a coccidiosis challenge,” Rubinoff said.

If that data is then compared across 10, 20 or even 30 farms and flocks, it might become obvious that a farm is not performing as well as other farms in an area and that a better coccidiosis-control program is required, he added.

Understanding impact of inputs

The types of data collected and analyzed today are just the start of building a more in-depth picture of the impact farm activities have on poultry health — but the pay off could be big, Rubinoff said.

“We’re going to be able to understand and correlate the changes in production based on temperature, based on how we change our feed, and also be able to tailor our vaccination program and understand how we’re managing our coccidiosis shuttle programs.

“As we get more data and we’re getting better at analyzing it, we’ll be able to utilize that for the benefit of the poultry producers,” he said.

For the concept to grow and improve, as much data as possible is needed from farms — something that may pose a challenge, especially in countries without a developed culture of data sharing. Rubinoff, however, said that trust can flourish when producers see how what they give is used.

“We need to keep the data completely confidential and completely anonymous. That’s the first part. If you don’t have privacy, you’re not able to do any of this.

“The second component is then giving back. We do this as a service for our customers, and if we’re able to give back a piece of information that helps them get more money, that helps reduce mortality or increase production, that is a value-added service that I think everyone would be interested in having,” he added.

Poultry Health Today

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