The Importance of Monitoring Broiler Flock Health

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Article | 11.03.2022
A key driver for good performance is a healthy flock and to achieve this goal, close monitoring is needed. This article focuses on monitoring broiler health by linking flock health, performance and antimicrobial usage by using Aviapp.

Broiler production costs have increased significantly in recent years, mainly due to the increase in the price of raw feed materials. Good broiler health and flock performance are paramount for a business to stay profitable. Many producers have software systems in place to monitor performance but are often not able to link performance to health and treatment data. 

Reducing the usage of antimicrobials is a major focus point for many broiler producers. In Europe, one of the main indications for antimicrobial treatment in broilers are gut related health issues. Many factors have an influence on gut health and therefore evaluation of the use of antimicrobials should be correlated to coccidiosis control programs, vaccination strategies, supportive feed additives, feeding programs and others. 

Aviapp is a software platform where performance data, management data, health data and treatment data can be gathered. It allows the user to make easy links between categories. In a first example, the need for treatment interventions (for coccidiosis and for enteric disease) by a veterinary practice using Aviapp were compared for three different coccidiosis control programs:

  • Program 1 - frequently used coccidiosis program
  • Program 2 - another frequently used coccidiosis program
  • Vaccination - coccidiosis vaccination

By linking the diagnosis of coccidiosis (Figure 1) and enteritis (Figure 2) to the need for treatments, a higher prevalence of interventions for coccidiosis as well as for enteric problems took place for birds on program 1. This type of information helps the veterinary practice to advise and inform clients on their decisions on a specific coccidiosis control program.

Figure 1. Percentage of flocks treated for coccidiosis by coccidiosis control program
Figure 2. Percentage of flocks treated for enteric diseases by coccidiosis control program

In 2021, using data from Aviapp, a correlation was made between end weight and the temperature in houses of one integration when birds were 5 weeks of age. By visualising the clear impact of the higher temperature in the houses on end weight (Figure 3), the integration decided to invest in a new cooling system. After the weight reduction in the summer of 2019, cooling pads were installed in the houses and further monitoring of end weight and temperatures demonstrated the positive impact. Better temperature control in the houses during the summer of 2020 resulted in better end weights compared to the previous years.

Figure 3. Comparison between end weight of the flocks and the temperature in the houses at 5 weeks of age

This is one of the many in-depth analyses which can be made when links between data are made. 

These analyses were carried out using Aviapp as the central software platform. Aviapp allows all concerned persons in a company to enter, analyse and compare data (health, performance, management, slaughterhouse). Today, more than 350 million data points have been entered from many different regions from all over the world and data input grows annually by ~50%. 

Results can be evaluated by the company itself and can be benchmarked within the country, continent or world. The majority of the data is entered by company personnel or independent veterinarians (66% of all entered data) making it possible to stay operational during the Covid-19 pandemic or restrictions associated with avian influenza. It is very important that the flocks continue to have good follow-up as a lower level of monitoring will lead to inferior performance, especially under challenging conditions.

Data entry has to be very intuitive and efforts for the user as low as possible. In many cases, data are already recorded somewhere but not available in a central data management tool. To facilitate the process of data entry, an automated link can be created to exchange data between different software tools. Where in the past pen and paper was the golden standard, today everyone is using a smartphone or tablet. Aviapp allows for easy data entry via the app on a smartphone or tablet, making it possible to shape livestock solutions.

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