Alan Beynon BVM&S MRCVS
One of the big lessons learnt over the last few years within the poultry industry is that to control disease in chickens and to reduce antibiotic use we have to have more control over our environment. Broiler sheds are now fairly complex with the ability to monitor air flow, temperature, humidity, ammonia and light continually through a built-in climate monitoring system.
While traditional rearing of game birds in the UK is still generally carried out in small outdoor sheds, it is very difficult for us to control heat, light and ventilation whilst outside temperatures fluctuate so much. My visits to partridge rearing sites in the South West of England in May showed frost on the keepers’ windscreens…Looking forward to my visits this week in Inverness and the Cairngorms!
St David’s Game Bird Services has always had an interest in finding ways to monitor performance in livestock and we have been developing relationships with a number of companies to investigate this further. This took me recently to a conference in London where climate systems are used in shopping centres to make the environment more comfortable for people to spend more time buying goods. I’m not convinced it will work for me unless of course it’s an interesting gun shop!
The next interesting fact is that the sensors can have parameters set so if the temperature is too low or too high, a text message or phone alert can be sent. Wireless sensors currently available are temperature, humidity and water flow with several others being developed including a 4G camera.
More information on these devices can be seen at our website www.prognostix-uk.com.
Ultimately, we will need to look again at how we rear birds especially in the early stages where heat, light, water etc. are critical. To help with this and as birds are now coming onto game farms, my colleague, Kenny Nutting MRCVS, has produced a range of short videos, the first of which is available at https://youtu.be/gvuhJznJ17U. Our brooding packs created for chicks can be ordered from www.poultrypharm.co.uk.
I will inform you of progress utilising technology over the next year as well as other initiatives St David’s Vets are developing to assist in improving health and reducing antibiotic use in the game Industry.