Updated control technology raised PEF by 50 points
Case from Sovereign Foods, South Africa

Sovereign Foods is one of the largest poultry producers in South Africa, with a weekly production of around 1.8 million broilers. Production takes place in about 250 livestock houses, primarily on farms near Port Elizabeth and Gauteng.

Sovereign Foods has always been at the forefront of implementing new farm technologies that ensure good welfare for the broilers throughout their life cycle.

The broilers are typically produced in houses 120 to 150 meters long, with Combi-Tunnel ventilation from SKOV, securing their welfare and productivity from day-old chicks till slaughter on day 37. A thinning out takes place on day 30.

SKOV has supplied complete ventilation systems to Sovereign Foods for more than 20 years. During this period, Sovereign Foods expanded the production with new farms, but at the same time continuously updated existing farms so that they are always up-to-date concerning, for instance, control technology and power savings.

Ettienne du Preez

It is part of our strategy to have a state-of-the-art production facility that ensures the broilers the best welfare and the company's high productivity, says Ettienne du Preez, Group Executive Agriculture, Sovereign Foods.

The same controllers in all houses provide central control

In tandem with this strategy, Sovereign Foods decided in May 2020 to update the climate and production controllers from SKOV in all 250 houses.

The update provided the users with a better operating interface via a 10-inch display and some new control parameters that significantly increased productivity.

– At the same time, the update allowed us to define and develop a common management strategy for climate and production conditions, which can be adapted locally, Ettienne du Preez continues.

Thus, through predefined and well-documented settings, it is possible to centrally determine the temperature inside the house, minimum ventilation, comfort temperature, chill effect, transition from side to tunnel mode, and other parameters on all farms.

New opportunities for increased productivity

The updated climate controllers allow automatic and improved climate control.

Nathan Smith

– The climate controller now includes a new feature. The climate in the house is controlled based on a humidity and heating curve for the first 14 days, while the control from day 14, when the animals are more robust, is based on a humidity and ventilation curve, says Nathan Smith, Production Manager, Sovereign Foods.

The transition in the control principle from humidity/heating to humidity/ventilation is automatic and does not depend on whether the workers on the farm remember to change the principle.

– We have seen the effect of another feature: the adaptive control principles that provide fewer and quicker adaptation of the climate in the livestock house to the desired. – In other words, the climate conditions in the house are always close to optimal, continues Nathan Smith.

The adaptive principle brings continuous improvement in the controller setup. It results in a more stable climate in the house, more efficient production, and better welfare and productivity for the broilers.

- After updating with new controllers, the PEF has increased by 50 points. Of course, you can attribute something to our increased focus, but you can also attribute a significant part to the new control possibilities, concludes Nathan Smith.

When the controllers were updated, no other conditions were changed in production. For example, they used the same feed and breeding material.