Hatchery automation: a growing market for innovation
Market demand for modular, single stage incubation has increased substantially in recent years, with growing recognition in the poultry industry that a short hatch window and uniform, robust chicks are critical factors for obtaining the best performance.
To keep pace with growing demand for high-quality chicks, hatcheries large enough to produce more than two million day old chicks per week are no longer unusual.
These growing hatcheries have become highly automated to handle chicks in such large numbers and to promote short ‘throughput time’ - another key measure of chick quality, for its influence on post hatch performance. The case for automation is further strengthened by the growing cost and reduced availability of qualified labour.
At the core of these transitions in the poultry industry, lies a duty of care from the retailer and ultimately to the consumer, to deliver the highest standards of animal welfare and offer complete traceability, from egg production and hatchery all the way down the chain.
Together, these factors create increasing demand for innovation, to support and improve standards of animal welfare - and to increase the availability of information from source.
In response, Pas Reform Academy has looked for more intelligent, innovative ways to handle valuable day old chicks, with minimum impact on their health and well-being, while at the same time reducing their throughput time.
This focus has placed Vision Technology at the heart of a new system for chick counting and quality analysis, to produce significant increases in efficiency, chick uniformity and standards of animal welfare. Pas Reform has named this latest innovation SmartCount™.
Improved efficiency, uniformity and chick welfare
Pas Reform’s SmartCount™ applies Vision Technology, a complex pairing of digital imaging and pre-defined algorithms, to count and analyse groups of day old chicks.
Image sequences are interpreted using these criteria, pre-set by Pas Reform Academy, to process the chicks in stress-free conditions. With an accuracy of two chicks per thousand, SmartCount™’s nett system capacity is 60,000 chicks per hour.
The same level of intelligence and accuracy defines a range of key parameters, including smart pattern recognition for even, gentle distribution in the right numbers into the chick boxes at the end of the conveyor, and precise, optimized spray vaccination.
SmartCount™’s chick analysis system incorporates calculations for uniformity scoring – and by integrating SmartCount™ statistics with SmartCenter™ hatchery information system data, the hatchery is equipped with the most detailed level of data analysis and batch reporting available today.
For detailed information and SmartCount™ technical specifications, click here.