When we talk about technology, chickens and turkeys aren’t usually the first things that come to mind. However, the poultry industry regularly uses technology to benefit animal care and improve environmental sustainability. Did you know chickens raised for meat (broilers) are different than chickens raised for eggs (layers)? Broilers have been selectively bred to produce larger amounts of meat. Layer breeds were selected based on their egg productivity and size. Turkey, broiler, or layer farmers are always looking for new technologies to improve poultry care!
Technology: Air Conditioned Bird Houses
I know I love air conditioning in the summer months and heat in the winter . When it’s 90 degrees outside and the air is so humid I can feel it all around me, all I want to do is sit in front of a nice, cool fan or air conditioner. When there’s snow on the ground and I can see my breath in the air, I want to curl up on the couch and blast the heat. Luckily, animals on poultry farms get to do this, too!
Poultry houses are controlled by computer systems that regulate the temperature, humidity, lighting, food and water in the barns. This way the birds are comfortable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many farmers use apps on their phones to monitor these systems on top of the in-person checks they do throughout the day.
Fan ventilation systems maintain the air quality for birds at all times. They are set at thresholds to automatically turn on and off depending on the humidity and temperature of the air in the barn.
As birds grow, their environment needs to change along with them so they’re never too hot or too cold. This automatic technology keeps the environment just right no matter what age the birds are living in it! These efforts are often focused just above the height of the birds, so the air quality is ideal where the birds are actually breathing. Using technology keeps this transition efficient and environmentally friendly.
Technology: Robotic equipment
Robots are being incorporated to pick up eggs and clean litter. Tyson opened a new state of the art facility in 2017 that has six robotic arms to improve worker safety.
Lights and Water
Dim light bulb technology also helps maintain a healthy environment for the birds and a low environmental footprint!
Water is an incredibly important natural resource, and poultry farmers know that! Birds drink out of water wells and faucets, which are monitored by computers so farmers know exactly how much water is used each day. This helps ensure the well-being of the animals while also making sure the farm is not wasting any water.
Many poultry houses are also equipped with chlorinators. They work 24/7 to keep the water clean, safe and free of bacteria and any other infectious agents.
Some poultry farmers also use evaporative cooling pads. These can use recycled water to cool birds off on hot summer days which, you guessed it…improves sustainability!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Poultry litter is not a waste product like you might think! Poultry farmers can compost this litter and use it to fertilize crops. It acts as a completely organic source of nutrients for plants. Poultry farmers work with soil specialists to determine what nutrients the soil on their farms need. They take a special interest in how to safely apply poultry litter to the ground so none of it goes to waste.
Many poultry farms have also started using solar energy to help power all of this technology. This helps decrease the environmental footprint of the farm. The Animal Agriculture Alliance recently toured Rivermont Farm, a turkey farm that utilizes solar panels. We spoke with the farmer and he shared that previously, his electric bills were $5,000 – $6,000 a month in the summer. This was mostly because of the ventilation needed to keep the turkeys at the most comfortable temperature. The solar panels now cover about 95 percent of his electricity usage. Plus, he is able to give energy he doesn’t use back to the company for credit.
Technology is great for animals!
Technology has undoubtedly improved the lives of humans, but it’s also improved the lives of our animals! Thanks to technology use in farms, we are able to operate things 24/7, measure our resources accurately, and keep our animals comfortable.
All posts are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of the Animal Ag Alliance.