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OPTIfarm Support

Mental Health Day 2020

None of us are superhuman.

We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan and this year has been a particularly challenging one for us all. Farmers are our essential key workers, they keep production going and provide us with food for our tables.

We know that for some it can be a dream to live in a beautiful rural location but it can also be a lonely isolated place and things are not always jolly when working with livestock.

84% of farmers believe mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry according to the Farm Safety Foundation.

Here at OPTIfarm we provide global support 24/7 for farmers and larger poultry businesses by advancing production and welfare in the supply chain. 

If you feel like things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, please ask for help. We are open around the clock if you have any questions or just need a chat.

You can also find some great self-help publications here.

Smart farming – understand more, learn more

In today’s economic climate it might seem a daunting task to implement aspects of smart farming or you may think that the current pandemic has forced your hand, but this can only be a positive that must be embraced.

Data gathering, machine learning and new thinking research are all designed to be used to progress your business, productivity and animal welfare.

Some of the main benefits are;

  • Reduce risks. The more you know the less of a risk you’ll face.
  • What happens at farm level and more importantly why?
  • improve production in every cycle.
  • Maximum production and bird welfare = maximum profit.

Time to focus on that data, analyse it and use it to create value.

Turning digital data into information, listen to what the information is telling you but more importantly, action it! Nothing changes if we don’t act on information and one of the biggest challenges we face can be actioning it.

graph showing the improvements made

We are not waiting for alerts or problems to arise before we make improvements, we looking and checking constantly to prevent issues. Be proactive, go find and go explore. We do this remotely, every day, at a minimum of 16 times a day in, every barn, 24/7.

Optimising and making positive changes for the birds and your business.

Now is the time for a permanent change in mindset.

Mindset and data analytics, together they are about generating profit.

We have discovered 50% of flock variable is down to human influences so these need to be communicated, with the data information, in the smart farming outcomes.

Smart farming for us is about working together to drive your business forward, overcome the challenges, push the boundaries and making the investment in the future.

how optifarm works

Where can you start?

Water, temperature and relative humidity. Recording these already? Great you are already on the first step. These 3 things are the basics for us at Optifarm to start you on your journey to a smarter poultry production.

Top Tips:

Record your observations, get them noted down anywhere you can. You are constantly making them so why not record them?

Don’t overwhelm yourself, use the data to confirm your decision making and make improvements. Even small steps add up to be changes.

Establish the basics first, use this to build on. Don’t get carried away with data for data’s sake and not use it.

Support for smarter farming and optimisation

Bridging the knowledge gap between precision livestock farming and the farmer.

Introducing the OPTIfarm - AMS

Optifarm - Area Manager Support

The OPTIfarm area manager support (AMS) has been specifically designed for the larger poultry organisations to integrate in your business and provide support to your technical teams. Advancing production and welfare in the supply chain.

The demand for quality livestock continues to increase and we know our clients are determined to be the best in the production of sustainable, quality livestock.

Just ask how we can make you a great ROI,  just for the cost of a coffee.

At the heart of OPTIfarm is a poultry farmer, with passion and drive for the industry.

Dramatic Improvements with Area Manager Support

Our clients are already seeing dramatic improvements in various aspects of farm performance, with the Area Manager Support we will be able to enhance your technical team further, 24/7. 

Our service is completely specific to you and your goals.

Whatever your poultry pitfalls are we will deliver practical solutions. We react quickly and positively to any farm issues, leading to a positive effect on performance and welfare.

Poultry Welfare

Real Time Poultry Assessments

Poultry welfare is not just a box-ticking exercise for us. We, along with our clients are doing this because we truly believe it is the right thing to do.

Welfare is a complex topic 

Our experienced operators make assessments based on available data along with comments from the farm.

To understand the welfare of the birds OPTIfarm assess animal welfare following the principles of the globally recognised Five Freedoms;

  • FREEDOM FROM HUNGER AND THIRST
  • FREEDOM FROM DISCOMFORT
  • FREEDOM FROM PAIN, INJURY OR DISEASE
  • FREEDOM TO EXPRESS NORMAL BEHAVIOUR
  • FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND DISTRESS

Observing bird welfare every 90 minutes 24 hours a day 7 days a week, gives the best possible conditions for the birds. 

A Global First Welfare Dashboard

The Welfare Dashboard gives you visibility, traceability, accountability and full control over every aspect of your poultry production. 

A key tool for the demand of visibility in todays supply chain production.

Running a large poultry business?

Poultry business offer

 Running a large successful  poultry business requires a great deal, however the two that will make you standout is expert industry knowledge and a great team.

 Surround yourself with experts in a wide verity of things. Ask for input and feedback from them. Involve them in decisions that will impact them directly and indirectly to foster greater investment in what you’re building, and to make better, more informed decisions together. When you win, we all win.

 One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to do too much. Don’t try and do everything yourself. No matter your size, there are cost effective and easy accessible ways to get some things off of your plate.

 Ask how we can help optimise, advance and sustain your business. 

Operational Blindness

Operational blindness

If you are not looking for it. You won’t see it.

From our recent poll Inattentional Blindness was voted the No.1 reason why farmers are holding back from Precision Livestock Farming. Have you ever experienced it?

So, let’s start at the beginning. Inattentional blindness, also known as Operational blindness, is a psychological lack of attention that is not associated with any vision defects. It may be further defined as the event in which an individual fails to perceive an unexpected stimulus that is in plain sight. You are so focused on one thing you completely miss the glaringly obvious fails in your poultry performance and welfare.

Research suggests that even the most experienced people are vulnerable to inattentional blindness.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in many farms and if not addressed can negatively impact your performance.

Do this sound familiar?

‘You are so focused on driving the ventilation by reading the numbers in the computer that you forget to read the birds’ 

 ‘You have been trying to prevent water spillage with lowering water pressure. You missed the birds fighting for drinker nipples because they don’t get enough water.’

Or maybe you fall into the category of overheating newly placed chicks. Most of the time farmers don’t realise this. 

operational inattentional blindness

How do we fall into this situation?

The same behaviours that are practised everyday, whether they are good or bad, set a precedent and lay down the norms within your farm for how “things” get done and how decisions get made.

If your aim is to eliminate operational blindness or to implement any other changes within your farm, in order to grow and develop, then bringing the Optifarm service on board is ideal to assist you with moving through this change process.

We help you cut through the clutter and assist you with defining your key goals and action plans. We are here to support your decisions and help you stay accountable to yourself and your farm. Optimising, sustaining and advancing poultry production & welfare, globally, through innovative 24/7 human and digital assessments.

Change is hard, why do it alone?

Getting the most from your Farm Performance

It’s been a year since Aviagen has raised the bar for entry to its Ross Club, which recognises the top 1% of broiler growers in the UK. On July 1 2019 the Ross 400 Club became the Ross 420 Club, with the qualifying entry level raised to a European Performance Efficiency Factor (EPEF) of 420 and above.

How was your farm performance over the last year?

What do feel was holding you back? Growth rates management? Flock uniformity? Environmental sustainability? Data Analytics? 

Sometimes it can just come down to hours in the day. I’m sure you’ve all experienced days turning into nights and contemplated sleeping in the shed.

Getting the best performance on broiler farms is about understanding what is happening at any given point in real time, and adapting management to each shed individually.

The biggest shift in broiler performance is the use of computer systems to capture data – not just entire room analysis, but splitting sheds into smaller segments and making management decisions based on that data.

No two sheds are the same. No two flocks are the same. Recognising and acting on the small differences while being able to maintain other well-known practices really makes all the difference in performance results.

Optifarm helps the farmer to see changing performance indicators and their trends during the cycle. We are able to give situation specific advice based on vast experience, all acuminated in our unique custom decision tree. 

Optimising, sustaining and advancing poultry production & welfare, globally, through innovative 24/7 human and digital assessments

Chicken Farm Automation

There is a vast of increasingly tech savvy monitoring techniques in the modern broiler farm, like our Automated Visual Recognition!

We can create ground truth in real time with auto annotation, enabling us to see and read what each individual bird and the flock is telling us.

Using cameras enables us to see a variety of bird behaviours and this also helps us in monitoring things such as feed or water consumption, bird spread or shed temperature, humidity or airflow. It could also analyse feeder and drinker usage throughout the shed.

They all look at the bigger picture and give us some great insights but with these new advancements using ‘off the shelf’ cameras we get an insight like never before into poultry behaviour and activity.  

With this new advancement we are able to distinguish individual birds’ behaviours, plus other welfare indicators which we at OPTIfarm use to provide our welfare assessments. 

We asses animal welfare on the principles of the globally recognised Five Freedoms.

Clients at OPTIfarm we will soon be able to receive this new service along with other new innovations we are working on as part of our already successful 24/7 global farm optimisation.

 

How does image analysis this help you?

  • Improved feed conversion
  • Improved predictability of performance
  • Gives livestock the best possible conditions
  • Improves bird health and welfare
  • Improves flock uniformity
  • Pinpoint disparity from a range of management factors including temperature and ventilation.

Assessing multiple types of information for farm performance evaluation can be difficult, data plays a huge part in the modern broiler and having the back up of our globally successful real time optimisation service means you can be more hands-on.  Saving time and adding value.

Efficient ventilation for your poultry farms

How efficient is your ventilation? As our European clients head into summer and the outside temperature rises it is vital to health of your birds that the ventilation and temperature is monitored efficiently to reduce the risks from heat stressEffective ventilation is a crucial element to your broiler production and bird welfare. You shoulbe aiming to avoid putting undue stress on the birds with adequate ventilation and air exchange rates maintaining air quality and avoiding heat stress. 

 Aside from age of the bird the biggest influence on air quality inside the poultry house are the conditions outsideThe conditions the birds experience during the hot summer temperature must be controlled by the ventilation system whatever the conditions outside. However, it is not just about temperature regulation as the birds feel thermal comfort based on temperature, humidity and air flow rates, so all of these must be considered. 

Whichever ventilation system you are using it needs to not only ensures adequate air exchange throughout the poultry house, but also remove excess moisture from the litter, maintain oxygen levelsreduce carbon dioxide levels, and regulate temperature within the house. 

 As an example, in the UK the current guidelines are that each poultry house has a ventilation system that: 

  • keeps the concentration of ammonia (NH3) below 20 parts per million (ppm), measured at the level of the chickens’ heads 
  • keeps the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) below 3,000ppm, measured at the level of the chickens’ heads 
  • when the outside temperature measured in the shade is over 30C, the inside temperature is never more than 3C warmer 
  • keeps the average relative humidity inside the house over any 48 hour period below 70% when the outside temperature is below 10C 

 These are just the minimum requirements but at OPTIfarm we look at providing the best air quality and provide the best environment possible for bird welfare, health and production. 

 We monitor your equipment and analyse data collected on temperature and air quality. As we visit the farm every 90 minutes our real time data collection is proving to be invaluable, we are able to intervene before any early warning signs of anything awry. We monitor key indicators such as changes in water, feed intakes and bird spread. Many aspects can lead to an investigation of the ventilation system. 

The above graph shows a correlation between the ventilation and feed, the tunnel vent system was disturbing the birds away from the end feed pans housing the automatic feeding sensor which resulted in periods of feed outages. The team was able to quickly act on this data derived information and following immediate client consultation OPTIfarm was requested to remotely adjust the settings at the farm and the issue was resolved immediately. A positive outcome for the birds and the client immediately with no delays. 

 What happens when the outside temperature rises? To lose body heat birds pant allowing moisture to evaporate from the lungs (similar to dogs) but this physiological mechanism requires abundant fresh, dry air entering the birds lungs so that the moisture can be transpired then expelled by the birds as they exhale. So, when temperatures exceed 25°C with relative humidity’s of over 60% for example in UK summer, it is important to deliver as much fresh air at bird height as possible, thus constantly removing moisture exhaled by the birdsTo allow this in a positive vented house with air inlets and extraction fans the setting of inlets is as important as the settings of the fans 

Air inlets should allow not only the high volumes of air into the house but they must control direction of the air flow and the control the internal pressure of the house to ensure the fresh air reaches all the areas of the house, including corners, at the birds head height. 

In more extreme climates globally the OPTIfarm service is often assessing and advising on highly sophisticated environmental controls equipment and very specific technical management. What better than the extensive experience and knowledge of the OPTIfarm technical team remotely checking your farm 24 hours per day to give you that added peace of mind, plus save you time and money.  

Ventilation control systems and equipment are an investment and should be used to their full potential. This is not always easy or simple as modern ventilation systems become more sophisticated and complicated. OPTIfarm will ensure your poultry facilities are optimised to a very exacting standard today, tomorrow and every day.  

Working in conjunction with the major ventilation equipment manufacturers around the world OPTIfarm is uniquely able to support you in maximising the potential of your ventilation systems. Our experienced technicians will be looking on your behalf to constantly fine-tune settings and systems and help spot potential problems before they materialise. 

 OPTIfarm is a global support service focused on working for you to ensure you can maintain good performance and welfare of your birds and allow you that extra piece of mind.  

 

Covid and the CEO

Working from home has been an interesting experience for me, given I spent the past years getting on first name terms with the cabin crew on a number of different airlines globally. My wife has coped brilliantly with me being around (never doubted for a moment), my step sons have discovered that I do actually work quiet hard and I don’t just jet set around the world ‘ living the dream’ and not to forget the dog who still seems amazed every morning to see that I am still around.

Initially my thought was, wow, what will I do with all my time, no driving, no checking in, no waiting on taxis, no time zones, however what I found was a huge initial demand on my time along with my team working together remotely to settle the company down into a new format, ensuring the well-being of all our team and making sure our already tested contingency plans worked in the event of remote working. I am really proud to say that there was absolutely no effect on our ability to serve our clients 24/7 and all credit to everyone here at OPTIfarm for embracing the challenge and just delivering.

As to my new routine, I can say that generally I start around 7.30am with a cup of tea (I am British after all) and I review the overnight activities, emails, internal messages, etc. My day is then full of video calls, emails, report writing, financial planning, etc, broken only but the rare occasion when I try to assist my wife in home schooling a 10 year old (running a global company is a dream compared to home schooling).  ON average my new working day is just as usual pre COVID19 but I try to end the day a little sooner than the midnight flights of old I used to have to catch and turn of the computer at around 5-6pm. I try to keep evenings and weekends as free from non-essential work as possible although I have been known to dip into the now home office on my way past for a quick message or two. this room was formally called an office but clearly wasn’t a place of a lot of work activity, more a home to the things that no one knew where else to put them.

I am becoming a master at Microsoft Teams and have found that actually I am now speaking to my team probably more than before given we are all sat in front of our computers linked up by the one software platform. Thank you, Microsoft this has really worked for us, internal emails are gone and an emoji makes the message more personal and less bland.

 

I would like to think we have remained in good contact with clients and found that as COVID19 was a global incident everyone around the word has been very receptive to video calls and remote meetings. Probably the biggest challenge is ensuring new potential clients understand through remote contact only the sincerity of ourselves and what we offer through the OPTIfarm service, some things including working relationships are just easier to establish in person, especially in different cultures and languages when body language can be a universal tool we all use to gauge what we are describing to each other. 

I am thinking due to the great success we have had that maybe some regular remote working away from the office is more achievable than we all previously thought and with this in mind we will be considering the potential for new team members to come from anywhere in the world as we clearly don’t all need to be sat in one head office to succeed.

 

David Speller - CEO - Headset included