Hybrid feed conversion

Published on Sept. 1, 2016

Enhanced efforts in feed conversion

Feed conversion measurement is an important part of our pedigree breeding program. We have implemented an enhanced prototype in order to provide more information on each individual bird.

Feed conversion has always been a core trait in our balanced breeding program. Feed accounts for over half of production costs and also contributes to the carbon footprint of a producer. Therefore, as a primary breeder, we place a great deal of emphasis on improving this trait to ensure efficiencies as well as sustainable solutions for the turkey industry. What began as a feed conversion trial, with a prototype system in 2011, has evolved into a fully integrated tool for breeding improvements. Our next iteration continues to improve the amount and quality of the data we can input into our breeding programs.

In any of our R&D programs it is important to ensure the welfare of the birds and to emulate commercial settings in order to create sustainable solutions for our customers. It was with these principles in mind we created our first prototype using group housing systems instead of the traditional cage system.

Over the years we continued to tweak and improve the system. The newest design, which is currently in use at our pedigree facilities, provides more contoured stations to ensure single bird capacity. In addition, new software and hardware upgrades provide increased scanning rates to more accurately record not only individual feed intake, but also bird behaviour in a group setting. Bird behaviour measurements include:

  • Number of meals in a day
  • Length of meals
  • Preference of feeder by location
  • Time of day when feeding activity is the highest
  • Feeding rate

Owen Willems, Hybrid Turkeys Geneticist in charge of the breeding program commented, “These enhancements will continue to contribute to improvements in genetic gain in our current system, but also allow for the recording of behavioural traits which will have an impact on future breeding directions.”