The Future Is Here for Robotics and Automation in Your Poultry Houses
Running a poultry farm carries consistent and unavoidable challenges, such as:
- Disease outbreaks among chickens
- Collecting eggs from the floor
- Keeping your chickens active and not just standing around
- Dead chickens that need to be removed
- Feed, water, lighting, air – all the basics of life
- Sanitation and cleaning
- And many more…
For most of history, the majority of these tasks have had to be done manually, or with the help of modern machinery like decakers, washers, and heaters.
But some tasks, like stopping disease outbreaks before they harm large portions of a flock, have remained out of reach.
The best new poultry farm equipment in 2020 isn’t the latest radiant heater. Instead, here comes an array of automation and robotics products that will reduce your losses, cut down on manual labor, and increase yields, among many other benefits.
7 of the Best Poultry Farm Equipment Advances in 2020
1.Remote Monitoring – ChickenBoy
Currently available only in Europe, this ceiling-mounted surveillance and monitoring system looks for deceased birds, overly wet bedding areas, temperature variations, malfunctioning drinkers, unusual activity that could mean a disease outbreak, and many other observations that normally require hands-on and eyes-on attention.
The poultry farmer can monitor their houses from a computer while working on other tasks.
You can see how it works in their video here.
2. Robot Egg Collectors
If you still use cage systems, collecting eggs isn’t a problem. But for poultry houses giving chickens more freedom, you now have the problem of random eggs laying around.
This interview-style article estimates it takes about an hour of labor per day, per poultry house, to collect all these eggs off the floor. The problem is, it’s not one continuous hour. Instead, the egg collection process happens throughout the day, interfering with other things you can be doing, or requiring extra laborers.
At the time of the interview (2016), various egg collection robots were still in development. But as consumers continue to demand more cage-free chickens, the challenge of mass egg collection will only grow.
The robotic egg collectors use an array of sensors to find and collect eggs without disturbing the chickens.
3. Thermal Imaging on CCTV Cameras
You know the importance of creating a consistent and evenly-dispersed temperature across all your poultry houses.
With surveillance cameras equipped with thermal imaging, you can ensure that all your heaters are delivering the heat you know is best for your flocks. One version of thermal imaging cameras can be found here.
These cameras provide many other advantages too, such as alerting you to a predator or intruder in the poultry house.
4. Robot to Rile Up Your Chickens
It’s not good for chickens to stand around. Their muscles and overall health get stronger the more they move around. So, one job of a poultry farmer has been to trudge through their houses to keep the chickens active. Just push them around a little, gently, so they don’t stay in one spot all day.
And you have to do all this without stepping on eggs, or collect them at the same time. It’s a chore.
Enter the Tibot Spoutnic, essentially a robotic chickensitter.
It moves around the poultry house and uses randomized lights and sounds to rile up the chickens and keep them on their toes, so to speak. The randomization is meant to prevent the chickens from getting too accustomed to the device. Read more about it in this article.
The robot’s creators also report a reduction in floor eggs of up to 23%, because chickens get agitated enough that they seem to return more often to their nest coops to lay their eggs.
So in lieu of a robot egg collector, this little gadget might reduce the need a bit for the time being.
5. Smart Lighting Managed Off-Site
When chickens experience a regular day/night cycle, it helps their overall health in several ways, including a boosted immune system.
One UK company also has found regular light cycles lead to higher average kill weights (meaning more profits), and healthier perching behavior leading to fewer floor eggs. Read this article for more (scroll down to ‘smart lighting’ section).
With a digital control panel connected to a smart lighting grid in your poultry houses, you can replicate the day/night cycle, including evening and dawn with the gradual changes birds would experience outside.
6. Automated Cleaning, Aeration, and More
Octopus Robots has developed an array of robotic automation devices to perform tasks that free up poultry farmers to focus on other business or life activities, and reduce costs that arise when these tasks get neglected.
Their robots can patrol the poultry houses to clean, disinfect, and even turn and aerate the poultry bedding. Additional tasks you can automate include measuring environmental metrics such as temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide and ammonia levels.
Keeping a constant eye on these factors helps you catch disease outbreaks faster.
These robots also do a great job collecting and storing data to improve your record keeping.
7. Feed Automation for Flock Uniformity and Health
Metabolic Robots has a system that takes over your feed line motors and adjusts the location and frequency of feedings based on where the birds are. It uses light and sound to draw birds to other feeders and drinkers.
This system has gotten its best results in the broiler market, increasing feed efficiency and reducing costs by a minimum of 5% – but often more because the more uniform feed delivery results in higher percentages of bird health.
The Metabolic Robot technology also helps poultry farmers catch outbreaks and diseases by alerting you to pathogens and trauma, to such an extent that it even tries to identify the specific type of infection.