Production recordkeeping is an important task for any layer operation, whether small, medium or large in size. Although record keeping doesn’t ensure that you will have a successful and efficient farm, success is unlikely without it.
Just how important is capturing farm data?
If you don’t collect information or you miss capturing important farm data, you will run into a variety of problems that will in turn make it difficult for you to make strategic decisions. For example, let’s say you aren’t successfully keeping track of mortality. Naturally, you think you have more birds in the barn than what you actually have. This will then affect your hen days and eggs per hen housed, which then affects your performance numbers. As you see, missing certain pieces of information ends up affecting other key matters of production.
Now, if you were to properly capture flock mortality, you can view your performance day by day or week by week, and identify any issues with your flock. In other words, farm data pin points any issues with your flock, which then allows you to make necessary adjustments- whether it has to do with feed, medication, lighting or any other housing requirements.
Realistically, you can’t successfully manage a layer farm without production data, but believe it or not, it happens more often than it should. That’s because some layer operations choose to visually manage their farm’s processes. Instead of having a house control system, they will take a look at the feed bin to see if the birds are consuming the feed, or go into the houses and quickly count the number of dead birds, while paying little importance as to why they died.
While this is okay if you choose to raise chickens as a hobby, it can certainly turn complicated when you are running a business that has contractual obligations and production deadlines. Plus as a business grows (which is a good thing), your bird numbers will grow, making visual management way more problematic. But just how problematic?
Not long ago, I learned about a family-owned layer farm that had about 15 or 20 barns. They sell specialty eggs throughout the California region, meaning they have production deadlines and customers that expect a certain number of eggs. While managing this many barns may not seem like a lot of work to those who have easy access to their data, this layer farm takes hours to accomplish simplest tasks.
What if they chose to expand their operations and sell to another state? To do that, they need to know their birds’ performance to get the anticipated number of eggs they need to fill their requirements. If they can’t fill them because their flocks are underperforming, they then have to go somewhere else to get eggs.
To sum it up, any layer business, regardless of size, needs to capture farm information. Production records can help you make informed decisions that will help improve business profitability. How are you capturing farm information, if at all? Share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn.
In the following weeks, we will be discussing the importance of traceability in a layer farm. Knowing that avian influenza has been detected in some breeder and pullet farms during the last outbreak, traceability and biosecurity measures should be of high priority. Stay tuned!