Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced support for 55 innovative new projects aimed at producing and using energy in a cleaner, more efficient way.
Farm Management Canada has launched a competition to win an all-expense paid trip to the International Farm Management Congress in Poland in July 2013.
Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service are looking at how farmers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
Co-operators/4-H Volunteer Leader of the Year Award honours volunteer leaders across Canada.
A non-profit in Florida has produced a “Ladies of Manure 2013 Calendar” to highlight awareness, education and the beauty of it all.
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitatio...
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitation
The population explosion...
With the world's population increasing exponentially and farmland staying the same, BASF took to the streets to ask consumers if this trend is sustainable.
Poultry keeping is all about the chickens. Providing a comfortable house for them and looking after them properly is a basic requirement, and it is also important to work economically and neatly. Bird-focused poultry farming is all about how to house and care for chickens in the best possible way, so the focus is always on: What is a chicken and what are its needs in terms of health, welfare and production?1 Everyone can learn how to observe and understand chickens better so they can manage their birds’ health, welfare and production. Some people have a natural ability to observe and understand chickens, while others have to go to a lot of trouble to learn, but everyone improves with practice. Many people are so involved in the farm that they no longer notice irregularities because they are so used to seeing them on a day-to-day basis. Open your mind to new things. Be critical and don’t be afraid to change. An important question a good entrepreneur regularly asks himself is: Am I getting the best out of everything? Or could I be getting even more? Train yourself to look AND see Proper care of your birds begins with critical observation and awareness. Take a (sometimes literal) step back. You cannot look with awareness if you are busy doing something else. Stop and think about the signals your birds are showing and the longer you spend on perfecting the art of watching, the more subtle signals you will be able to pick up on. It takes skill to notice faint signals before the consequences reveal themselves. The main thread running through this so-called “bird-focused poultry farming” ideal is: Look, think and act. There are three basic questions poultry farmers must keep asking themselves: What am I observing? Why is this happening? And what should I do? Seeing more If you only look at technical aspects such as laying percentage, growth or feed and water consumption, you run the risk of missing important signals and being overtaken by events. You can pick up on these signals from the chickens themselves and from their appearance, behaviour, manure and eggs. Start your inspection by observing the whole flock and asking yourself some key questions: How are they spread out in the floor space? How are they using the different parts of the house? Are they avoiding certain places? Are there differences between birds? Are these uniform? Pick up some birds that seem different and take a closer look, as well as some birds at random. Irregularities are not always evident and need context, so look at the individual chicken and the flock as a whole as well. Put a chair in the house and sit on it for a few minutes at regular intervals to observe birds. Only then can you pick up on irregular behaviour. During rearing, a lot of attention must be paid in preventing problems with flock uniformity with regards to feeding. The chain feeder needs to be constantly monitored and all birds should be able to go to feed at the same time. Using the signalsUse what you see to improve your flock management. The following questions must be asked about everything you see: What am I seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling? What is the signal? Why is this happening? What is the explanation? What should I do? Can I leave it or should I take action? A genuine signal will be repeated by the birds, but be sure to think about what it is and how it relates to the current circumstances. For example, try to determine what is the behaviour behind a signal by monitoring how often it occurs both during the day and at night. Do not be afraid to find out by asking other farmers, colleagues and advisers. Does it happen often? At different times, to different birds? Does it happen on other farms? Unclassified notable observationsNot every signal you notice will necessarily cause harm – such benign signals are known as Unclassified Notable Observations (or UNO). When you see such observations, it is very important that you find out why they occur. A clear example – a bull eating a rabbit. There was not just one bull, but many. They did not eat the rabbits because they lacked education or because they did not know they were supposed to be vegetarians. So, why did they do it? The answer is that they had to eat the rabbits to compensate for the lack of phosphorus in the area where they were grazing!2 Some examples From the individual: If you lift up a chick by the wings, its feet should point downwards. If the chick is holding its feet up, it is giving you a clear message that it is experiencing the early signs of stomach pain. From an egg: A normal egg laid in the nest is what you want, but if an egg is laid on the floor, do not blame the hen or yourself. Feel the egg to determine whether or not the egg has a smooth shell: if it is not smooth, it is not just a floor egg, but due to disease or genetics, will not produce a chick. As well, different shell damage can result from poor nest quality or such factors as incorrect egg collecting. Take-home message Open your mind to new things to increase the pleasure of working with chickens and improve the results. Take time to learn to observe, understand and translate your observations into a better and more productive operation. references Poultry Signals, 2011, ISBN 978-90-8740-079-8. Authors: M. Bestman, M. Ruis, J. Heijmans and J.H. van Middelkoop. PhD study, Wageningen University, Netherlands, 1194. Foraging in a Landscape Mosaic, 161 pp. M.F. Wallis de Vries.