Both quality and economic parameters can be significantly improved by modernisation and the optimisation of resources.
István Farkas has been rearing chickens since 1990. His business has been rearing broilers for Hungerit Zrt. since 2015, with an annual output of 2.5 million broilers. Four production units are located at the Győrszentiván site, three of them are fully modernised and the upgrade of the last one will be finished soon.
We asked István Farkas, manager of the companies FP Plus Broiler, Novobird Ltd., FP-Bestbird Ltd. and Birdcage Ltd. about the challenges their business faces and spoke about the advantages of modernisation and precision farming technologies.
- Human resources were the main challenge because of the location of our company.
Because of the proximity of the automotive industry, it was more difficult to find reliable workers than in other regions of Hungary. Before the modernisation 4-5 employees were needed to operate a unit and they were transported 40 km to work and back home every day. Employees were assigned to 24-hour shifts to ensure the surveillance of the houses. Full modernisation addressed this situation also, since we need only one employee to work in one shift in the fully automated units.
- Which technological elements were updated or automated?
We performed thorough research before choosing the new technology.
The old buildings were demolished and new houses were built. We chose the most up-to-date technology available, which means that we now operate in a fully automated, computer controlled and closed environment that makes it safer and easier to rear broilers. Unfortunately, many producers will not commit to making such a huge investment because of the financial burden. However, the investment is worth it in the long run, we could even see immediate results: a significant improvement in both quality and quantity in our production results.
- How has feeding management changed over the years and how does it work in the automated broiler houses?
We have always bought finished feed for our operations, from 5 suppliers in the beginning.
We are now down to 2 suppliers based on the experience of the past few years. We have been partners with Bonafarm-Bábolna Takarmány Ltd. for 5 years, and since we are satisfied we have every reason to believe it will be a long term partnership between us. I am a maximalist regarding nutrition as well and I am sure this technological element is the key to being successful in broiler production. We only buy the highest quality, premium feed from Bonafarm and we will continue to stick to the high standards we set for ourselves in the future. Currently we are feeding a flock of 80,000 birds and a flock of 120,000 birds with feed from Bonafarm-Bábolna.
The new project provides the highest level of technology for feeding: feed is taken from the fully automated silo through a closed transport system to the broiler house. An automated feeding system delivers the right amount of feed to the feeders. The pan feeders and the valve systems we use also contribute to making broiler rearing an easier process. Technology in the houses can be controlled and managed remotely, even from a tablet. It is very reassuring to be able to monitor the system from home and to have the alert function as a safety feature that is activated every time there is a minor change or an error in any of the procedures.
- Do you face any issues regarding animal health? Do you have any experiences you might share with us?
We don’t have any issues with animal health thanks to the utmost care we take and the strict adherence to technological procedures. We demand maximum discipline with regards to hygiene, we have our own employees, and everything required by the rules of profession.
Currently we are partnering with the third hatchery in our history, the hatchery of Nagisz Zrt. We are on our first rotation with their chickens, the birds are 4 weeks old, and it seems that everything will be fine, we are satisfied with them.
- What results could you achieve with this new technology and what is the result you are most proud of?
We produce 2.5 million broiler chickens per year, 20% of them are sold at 5 weeks of age as specialty chicken and 80% are sold at around 40 days of age. This means the average slaughter age is 38 days. We use 1.55 kg of feed to produce 1 kg meat. In Hungary Aviagen is the company that produces broiler parent stock, and they use the European Performance Efficiency Factor (EPEF) to calculate production efficiency. Years ago, when I started working in broiler production, achieving an EPEF of 200 was considered to be a very good result. The quick technological improvement is nicely demonstrated by this index, as now this threshold is set at 400, and producers belonging to the “400 Club” are considered to be the highest achievers. We have previously reached this threshold with some of our rotations but now we are proud to say that last year all our rotations made it to the prestigious 400 Club.
István Farkas, thank you and we wish you all the best for your future operations!