The Vitoo™ pan was given a new bottom pan with Natural Beak Smoothing
In March 2018, Roxell launched Natural Beak Smoothing. Jan Hoving from Zeewolde (NL) tested this Roxell solution at his rearing farm. We spoke to Jan during the launch. He discussed the outcomes of the testing and his preference for auger feeder systems, and spoke of his satisfaction with the Flex-AugerTM system with Densicor tubes.
“We tested Natural Beak Smoothing at my company. Our existing Vitoo™ feeder pans for the rearing period of broiler breeders were simply fitted with new bottom pans with a rough texture. Each time the chickens eat, their beaks rub against the rough texture. As a result, the beak growth is controlled naturally and the chickens develop well-formed beaks. Chain feeder systems do not offer a replacement for the soon-to-be banned beak treatments. Roxell’s pan feeder systems for breeders, on the other hand, do have an answer to this problem. If you want to eliminate painful treatments and feather pecking, the choice is obvious.”
The financial aspects of Natural Beak Smoothing
“While we were testing Natural Beak Smoothing, certain questions began to arise such as: ’How long will the bottom pan last?’, ’How long will the rough texture stay sharp?’ and ’Are the textured pans easy to clean?’ In the course of this testing period, both Roxell and I gained answers to these questions. After 2 years, I have not noticed any reduction in the sharpness of the bottom pans. Roxell even claims that the bottom pans will remain effective for at least 10 years. Natural Beak Smoothing also doesn’t require any major investments. It seems to be financially advantageous, even on the long term. And cleaning the textured pan wasn’t an issue either.”
Learning the language of chickens
Jan Hoving set up a farm in 1984 and built his first rearing house 15 years later. When asked how he learned his trade, he replies: “I learned the language of chickens. By learning their language, I mean that I invested in systems that were adapted to the natural behavior of chickens. I also want my systems to be easy to control, so I can, for example, adjust the temperature of the houses and see how the chickens react. I fine-tune certain parameters until the conditions are optimal. I’ve learned that this precise management is crucial for obtaining good results.”
Preference for auger feeder systems versus chains
“Before I began, I questioned some of the conventional wisdom. Chain systems had been around for more than 50 years at that point. I was also advised to use a chain feeder system. I visited three houses with chains and quickly became critical of them. Why was it that the chain feeder system was not able to transport the usual 50 to 60 kg of feed? And how could I achieve good uniformity in the group if the chickens had ample opportunity to pick coarse particles from the feed?” says Jan.
Independent research shows that chain systems encourage selective eating. The chain gives hens the ability to pick out the larger pieces of their feed. Hens at the back of the feeding system are then presented with an unbalanced mix of feed. Read more about this research.
Smits Agro – Roxell’s distributor in the Netherlands – offered an alternative to chain systems, the Bridomat™ trough feeding system.
“When I saw that there was only a small price difference between the two systems, my decision was clear. Bridomat uses an auger to quickly distribute the feed throughout the house and provides all the animals with an equal amount of feed. This results in good uniformity in the group. And the system is also very easy to maintain.”
Flex-Auger™ feed transport system, economical and durable
“In broiler breeding, it’s important that all the hens are fed equally, as stress-free as possible. Roxell’s feed transport system, Flex-Auger, is a fantastic system for this. I opted for the system with Densicor tubes. The advantage of this version is that it can process large volumes. This means I only need one transport system and just one motor per house. The investment is lower and there’s less to maintain.”
Smits Agro provided advice and installed all the feed, drink and transport systems. They ensured that all the systems worked well together, which is important to ensure optimal returns.
A future with more people
Jan Hoving is an entrepreneur who is always looking to the future. In 2014, he bought a broiler breeder company in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. He also has other plans for investment and expansion. However, one of the biggest challenges remains finding people who want to learn the trade and develop the same level of passion that Jan has for the business. Plenty of opportunity, therefore, for people who want to learn the language of chickens.