Buildings focus: Q&A with Greengage marketing manager Steven Mitchell

Summarise your business

Greengage is located at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh – famous for Dolly the Sheep. Our presence at the Roslin Institute places Greengage at the centre of world-class animal and veterinary research.

Our ALIS system is a patented induction powered (similar to electric toothbrushes) LED lighting primarily for use within poultry barns.

Greengage applies ‘science of light’ to affect bird behaviour and deliver reduced operational costs, improved animal welfare, and increased productivity for poultry farmers. We have a team of 15 in the UK with business development managers in USA and Asia.

How long since the business started? And how has your product design changed during that period?

Greengage started in 2008 designing and manufacturing LED lighting for livestock farming. This summer sees the release of our new ALIS Barn Lamp which features 100,000 hours rated life and is designed to deliver productivity, environmental and welfare benefits. The ALIS Barn Lamp predecessors, ALIS 8W and 11W, had a rated life of 60,000 hours, so the advances in LED technology over the last four years have been significant.

In addition to the lamps, power and control is at the heart of our platform. Patented induction powered hubs and dawn till dusk (DTD) controllers enables farmers to simulate natural sunlight in their barns while reducing the risk to safety and improving biosecurity.

Our forthcoming sensors will greatly widen the scope and appeal of our ALIS platform as they simply clip-on the to the same cabling as the lights and connect to touchscreen apps using Wi-Fi.

What have you learnt as a business during that period that’s enabled you to change and evolve?

We always involve the market in our product development while closely following behaviour trends and improvements in LED technology. Our ALIS Blue Lamp is a good example where farmers wanted a quick and simple method for switching to blue light for the catching phase (blue light limits the birds vision so that they don’t get stressed). We were able to provide a cost-effective solution that existing ALIS customers can retro-fit easily and new installations can purchase as an optional extra.

This summer heralds the release of the new ALIS Barn Lamp which replaces the flagship ALIS 8W and 11W lights. ALIS Blue Lamp also makes its debut and is designed to create calming conditions in poultry sheds for the catching phase. 

These house lights complement the ALIS Nest Lamp which direct birds towards nests and reduce eggs on the floor. 

Later this summer, our new ALIS Tube Lamps will be available and are designed to deliver optimum lighting conditions in layer systems using our patented induction technology, keeping the power supply in front of house for safety. 

Results from an independent scientific trial run with a major commercial poultry farm revealed the ALIS platform yields £5,000 per year per barn over standard fluorescent lighting systems; delivering a return on investment in 12 months. 

Which businesses or leaders are you inspired by?

One of the richest men on the planet, Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) are driving inspiring change in agriculture and initiatives such as zero hunger, zero poverty, and clean energy (TerraPower). He sees livestock farming, especially poultry, as a route out of poverty in many parts of the world. The foundation’s support for genetic research at The Roslin Institute will help combat disease and make livestock farming more sustainable in sub-Saharan Africa.

What are the biggest opportunities and threats to your business?

Threats or challenges can also be opportunities. As a manufacturing business in the UK, the uncertainty around Brexit makes forward planning very difficult. However, we are developing existing and new business with counties outside the EU. At present, Greengage exports to 22 countries around the world.

The opportunity for us right now is that while market pressures and consumer awareness are here to stay for foreseeable future, if a farmer installs our ALIS platform, they can reduce operational costs, improve welfare and increase productivity from day one.

What do you think the industry might look like in another 20 years regarding building design and the structure of the poultry industry?

From travelling around the world with Greengage, there is a perception that UK sheds are mostly the timber frame type built in the seventies and eighties.

Steel clear span sheds (prevalent in the US and the EU) will replace these older barns over the next twenty years if not before. Retailers and consumers will continue to drive change in the poultry industry as we have seen in the US and UK with cage-free by 2025 and growth in organic egg consumption. Blockchain technology will have a place in poultry farming as it offers superior transparency and food security. Carrefour in Belgium recently launched first chicken without secrets using blockchain technology.

What’s the one project you’re most proud of and why?

To demonstrate the value in our new ALIS Barn Lamp, I oversaw the development of a Return on Investment calculator. The calculator shows how the multitude of incremental improvements to productivity, environment, and welfare has a compounding effect to deliver a significant Return on Investment for broiler farmers

 

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