Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Working with Birds in Cold Weather

Keep an eye out for ICE

As much of the nation is feeling cold, careful attention should be made to protect all animals that may be exposed.  With poultry, this means that feet, combs and wattles of birds are sensitive to cold and can become frostbitten.  When this occurs, the tissue will die and fall away.  I commercial settings inlets must be properly adjusted so that air shoots towards the warm part of the room to temper and not directly on the birds.  In smaller settings, a heat lamp in the corner should be able to provide relief to birds who will adjust their temp by moving closer to the heat source.  These lamps should be hung by a metallic method such as cable or chain.  Avoid using rope to prevent failure and a bedding fire.  Fluffed long straw and hay can also offer a buffer to the cold in chicken coops and barns.  Be sure that water remains liquid to keep the birds properly hydrated.  Any water restriction during the day will restrict feed intake, so water needs to remain free-flowing.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Keeping our Options Open

Competition keeps consumer costs down

As we close another year, I was beginning to wonder if some parts of the poultry industry are painting themselves into a marketing corner.  With the push for being more like the European plan for producing food, one key aspect may have been overlooked.  It takes capital to switch to another major method of production, and as we have seen in studies there are positive and negative aspects to the new methods of production.  So, whether be it cage or free, slow or fast, organic or not by picking one sole method of production may not give the industry the revenues it was looking for.  Those companies who managed to hold onto a diversified mix or portfolio of production may indeed make out due to economy of scale and lower cost of production for that portion of the market they serve.  In the end, I believe we will need to keep a rich and diverse option of egg and meat products if we are going to maintain the lead in protein at the market.  Time will tell how the consumer will react to new offerings, but with the low cost of substitution, the new products will have to be superior in some aspect to get the consumer to change.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Using a measured approach to food safety

Calibrate before you celebrate

Food safety experts stress that foods should remain out of the danger zone during prep and consumption.  To assist in taking the guesswork out of this, it is recommended to follow the
guidelines specified by FDA and others when preparing and serving food.  Keep hot foods hot, above 140 degrees F and cold foods cold, below 40 degrees F.  To figure out where you are, most turn to a quick read thermometer.  These are great tools to use if used properly.  First, check your thermometer against a know standard.  For most that is a cup of crushed ice and water (a slurry) that should read 32 degrees F.  Look at the stem of the thermometer for a slight dimple or mark.  This is the insertion line that must be fully inserted into what you are measuring.  If the thermometer is not reading correctly, then see if the thermometer can be adjusted.  Many have a nut on the back of the dial that allows for the scale to be moved to correct the thermometer to the ice slurry check.  You should also consider thermometers for the freezer, refrigerator, and oven to check temps and to be sure temperatures are where they should be.

The other consideration is to use the two-hour open rule.  This refers to foods being served that may pose a food risk.  Meats, egg dishes, salads with dressings and other prepared foods should not sit out all day during a festive occasion.  Return foods to covered storage before two hours are up after serving.  It is good to either keep the foods hot or cold, or better yet, store them properly till the next meal.  Snack foods that are normally salted and dry can remain at room temp.  Always follow label recommendations, and be food safe.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Something Simple yet Something Profound

Be sure to do this often during hot weather

Something simple, yet has a profound effect on the care of birds in summer heat. Using a simple toilet brush to brush down fans of cobwebs, dust, feathers and other materials from
fans and fan related equipment is a must. By many accounts fan efficiency goes down with the loading of dust. By cleaning the fans, the fan blades have a better bite to the air and therefore can move more air. Thus, a house could move more air and make the difference in heat stressed birds and reduce heat related problems.

Remember good fan safety. Have a “lock-out” program or have individual fan kill switches at the fans themselves to prevent accidental start-up while you are cleaning the fans. Have a sign on the entrance to the house that you are performing a lock-out so folks will know workers are working with fans.

While compressed air can clean a majority of dust, dirt and feathers, I find it helpful to brush away any remaining materials from louvers, and fan blades with a simple toilet brush. While you are at it check belts and tensioners (if installed) and remember to brush off motors as well. For a few bucks the payback is well worth the expense.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Managing Biosecurity in a changing landscape.

Take Time To Plan

While we would like to think that birds are fairly free of diseases, they can be challenged from time to time by what is in their environment.  With ABF/RWA programs and a reduction in available therapies there are fewer treatments available for common illness that may strike a flock.  Because of this, it is important to maintain a healthy environment by practicing great biosecurity.  By compartmentalizing and restricting movement of people and equipment among the birds, you reduce disease pressures on the flocks in your care.  Organic and other flocks that use outside access have to push the line of separation on their farms to the outer limits of where the birds may roam.  This means PPE and other sanitation methods may be needed to enter these pens for normal service.

Deliveries and other non-poultry visitors should be held to a minimum.  The use of Drop Boxes and other locked enclosures will help reduce traffic on the farm.  Review your documented biosecurity plan on a regular basis and make sure all who visit your location understand and follow your plan.