12 January 2017
Willmar Poultry Company / AG Forte has successfully developed an innovative new concept for its turkey take-off and processing line, with the installation of the world’s first SmartCount™ turkey counter in collaboration with Pas Reform and NatureForm at its Willmar hatching facilities in Minnesota.
The animal-friendly counter, which has been in operation in the broiler industry for over five years, has been adapted in a joint process that for the first time enables the counting and analysing of day old turkey poults. SmartCount™ analyzes the quality of the poults in terms of individual weight estimation and uniformity distribution, with a calculation of the coefficient of variance as an indication of flock quality and uniformity.
Willmar / AG Forte embarked on this joint development project with Pas Reform over a year ago, to deliver an innovative poult counter in Willmar’s operations. The company was looking for an animal-friendly, high capacity counter that could handle 60,000 day old poults per hour, to an accuracy of +/- 5 per 1000 - and seeing SmartCount™ operating in broiler facilities sparked the idea for the joint development.
SmartCount™ turkey does not need to individualize day old poults. As the first counter that uses vision technology to count groups of poults, it analyses the circumferences of individuals, estimate their weights and produces a uniformity curve for poults counted based on the images collected by the camera.
Neil Miller, head of operations at Willmar / AG Forte comments “We have been looking at how to further improve animal welfare during the process of take-off, counting, sexing and vaccination.
“When we saw the Pas Reform counter, we immediately saw the potential of this piece of equipment to improve animal welfare standards in our hatchery. We have been running the counter now for the last couple of weeks - and have been very impressed with how gentle it is on our poults and with the counters accuracy.”
Robert Bowen, sales manager for Natureform in the United States adds: “Working with Willmar Poultry / AG Forte on this project has enabled successful adaptation and product innovation to develop our automation lines into a new area of operation. There is great potential to expand on this within the turkey and potentially other hatchery operations, not only in the USA, but worldwide.”