Differences: Cobb and Ross
With their management system the family can analyse almost like a research company. Patrick states, “We measure everything per house. This provides us with 6 times a result per round. This clarifies the moments of a round that have room for improvement.” Regarding Cobb and Ross, Patrick have experienced that Cobb chicks need a little more attention at the start, but catch up after that (2nd to 4,5th week) and eat faster than Ross chicks during that period of time. He also sees that Cobb chicks have a stable gut. “This is something Elvera and I can determine by looking at the manure. Together with employee Rob, Elvera checks manure quality and feed intake twice daily,” Patrick adds.
The fact that the 2nd Cobb flock performed this well, may be due to several factors. The winning flock was included in field tests that the family did with a new pre start feed called Ready. “This might have contributed to the extremely good results. This new pre start feed contributes to a more stable gut and less digestive problems,” he says.
Good management very important
Also the family’s management will undoubtedly have contributed to this top result. At the farm all houses are equipped with Stienen climate computers, which are all connected via Farm Connect. The climate in the houses is controlled by the climate computer, which also measures the amount of CO2 and the Rv, and adapts when necessary. If needed the family adjusts ventilation. Moreover, there is intensive consultation between the family and the veterinarian of Dierenartsen Midden Brabant (DAMB) and Coppens’ animal nutritionist. “Our animal nutritionist can log into Farm Connect and regularly enter the house in order to take a look at the animals. Together with the veterinarian he determines an anti coccidiostats programme. We deliver customised solutions to improve the performances of each round. If you want to perform like we did with the winning flock, everything must be right,” states Patrick. Since 1996 the family adds approximately 27% of wheat to the feed, also in relation to a better chick health. “This makes a difference of about 2 to 3 cents per chick.”
Patrick (45) and Elvera (44) van den Hurk
Farm: Huna Pluimvee, 180,000 broilers in total, kept in 6 houses. Winners of the Cobb Champion 2016 award, because they were 1 of the 3 best performing broiler farms with Cobb broilers in Europe (Russia included), Africa and the Middle East.
Peat as bedding
“In our experience Cobb chicks also score slightly lower on foot pad lesions than Ross chicks. In our case the prevalence of foot pad lesions has not dropped dramatically since we use peat as bedding. Other (management) factors play a big role in a low foot pad lesions score.” Two other important reasons why the family uses peat are fire safety and its low price, as it is cheaper than wood shavings. Another remarkable management element is the fact that the family chooses to unload twice intermediary. The results are subject to the chicks1 genetics. Patrick: “But that is something I can’t influence. I can influence the vaccination schedule, which is something we pay a great deal of attention to. Before vaccinating we take up the water line and tap water until the vaccine reaches the end of the line before we let the water line down again.” Prior to the arrival of the chicks there is contact with the hatchery in order to inquire about the performance of sister flocks. Elvera says, “We also check the chicks upon arrival. We check their weight, uniformity, temperature and whether or not their navels are closed.” When the family is in doubt, they immediately call the veterinarian in order to discuss what to do. In the starting phase of the chicks, Elvera adjusts the temperature in the house on a daily basis when needed, based on the chick temperature.