The poultry industry must improve the pace it adopts new technology, especially in the realm of precision livestock farming (PLF) and management of data.
That was the message from Dr David Llewellyn, vice chancellor at Harper Adams university, addressing delegates at EPIC on 4 November in Newport.
Llewellyn told the 400-strong audience at the Celtic Manor resort that the poultry sector needed to more clearly communicate to retailers and consumers that new technology will assist animal welfare as well as production performance.
Speaking about his 2017 Temperton report, which looked at emerging technology in poultry sector, Llewellyn said the main areas of development were automation and data management, genetics, management of environmental conditions, and novel uses of poultry materials.
Llewellyn said during his research for the report he interviewed poultry industry figures who discussed how the industry would likely change in next 20-30 years. The general view was that the industry was a technology adopter, but only where the returns were clear. Genetics and genomics would still have a big role to play in the coming decades, he said, and there was a view there could be use of cloning for high performing stock, or genetic potential to address animal disease and improvements in human health.
Llewellyn said there was more work to do to join up academia and industry, and more work was needed to upskill workers where technology was taking over old roles. “We need to make sure the poultry sector remains competitive with highly skilled people managers and leaders,” he said.
Robochick was one example of collaboration between academia and industry. Llewellyn discussed the project of a poultry house robot equipped with environmental sensors, which has been developed by several organisations including the Royal Veterinary College, Ross Robotics, Applied Poultry.
Another collaborative project is the metabonomic profiling of chicken eggs during storage – which is being developed with Keele and Liverpool universities.