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Big data could help prevent disease outbreaks in poultry

Using data analytics and new technology could help poultry producers prevent disease outbreaks.

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Andrea Gantz |

Using data analytics and new technology could help poultry producers prevent disease outbreaks.

The poultry industry records vast amounts of data related to various aspects of production, including flock health, genetics, nutrition and management practices, explained Dr. Rick Phillips, Boehringer Ingelheim Director Key Account Veterinarians.

“The industry has a lot of data points being collected, but not much is being done with it,” he added.

What can producers do to address this?

According to Phillips, producers should look for data collection systems they can implement at every step of the process. This will help producers analyze data and make flock decisions. “Performance data, live production data and processing data all need to be married together,” he stated.

Producers need data collection systems that will help them correlate the metrics and variables they are gathering to, among other things, help predict disease outbreaks. Additionally, Phillips recommends that producers start with a third-party company to help them understand what they can do with the data they are collecting.

“We collect a lot of information right now, we just aren’t always doing the right thing with it,” Phillips said. “Before the industry can build a platform that’s effective at analyzing this amount of data, we need to start with taking basic data and turning it into workable knowledge.”

New technology could help

New technology could enhance the industry’s ability to be more predictive of disease outbreaks, such as systems that use sound and video.

“If we could consistently capture bird sound and movement patterns, and build algorithms around those variables, we could be more effective in predicting problems,” he stated. Combining bird movement and sound patterns with feed conversion, water consumption and other data points could help producers be more predictive of disease outbreaks.

Future innovations could reduce the amount of labor needed, while helping producers capture more data, more often.

“For example, the industry could use technology to measure bird weights through imaging, without a scale. Producers could have data on the bird weights of an entire house, multiple times a day,” he said. “Video technology can take a picture of a whole house of birds and predict the weight very accurately.”

“If we could gather data on each individual bird in a house on a daily or hourly basis concerning growth rates, feed conversion, water consumption, bird movement, bird sound and more, then overlay that data with disease information, I think the industry would find what it is looking for in terms of better predicting disease outbreaks,” Phillips added.

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