Zootecnica International has been at Vencomatic Headquarters having the opportunity to visit the Vencomatic Group and interview Theo Hoen, CEO of the Vencomatic Group and Niels Geraerts, Product Manager Breeder housing. They outlined the latest company innovations and highlighted the fantastic results achieved by the Vencomatic Veranda and Patio Systems all over the world.
Theo, what are the advances implemented by the Vencomatic Group in the manufacturing of poultry systems that are more animal friendly and profitable?
“Vencomatic, a 30 year experienced company, has always developed innovative systems for the poultry industry, like the Veranda for breeders and the Patio for broilers. All Vencomatic systems are manufactured focussing on the ideal situation for growing birds. We are committed in balancing 3 fundamental issues: animal welfare, sustainability for an environmental friendly production and increased profits for farmers.
In West Europe, there have been many discussions centered on animal welfare. An optimal poultry production is not only a matter of animal welfare. In order to feed an increasing world population it is necessary to have a more comprehensive approach. We are able to prove to the rest of Europe, and hopefully to other markets as well, such as Russia, Africa or South America, that we can produce poultry products in a responsible way, considering all aspects of production and not making decisions from an emotional point of view. If we handle from this standpoint, we need to be open to new technologies, in which birds are not exposed to health risks and health damages as compared to free range farming. In addition, we need to base our judgements on science. In this sense we definitely need more support from scientific and institutional groups for the benefit of both birds and farmers.”
What are your future goals in your new role in Vencomatic?
“Vencomatic has achieved a strong position in Europe with excellent results. Over the last years we have developed new technologies, thus resulting in innovative solutions. Now we are committed to invest in expanding our activities outside Europe, such as Africa, Americas and Asia, in order to support industries in these continents. We aim at spreading our technology all over the world, while keeping on innovating. Innovation is our company’s main focus and strategy.
From my side, I will put more effort in transferring my personal experience, achieved in the poultry-slaughtering sector into the farmer side, to have a better understanding of what is important for the slaughtering operation and to act on a farming level to improve those features, which are considered relevant at slaughtering.”
Niels Geraerts outlined the latest innovations of the Vencomatic Group, with a spotlight on the NEW Veranda system:
“The NEW Veranda system is a unique colony concept for breeders, representing a fantastic step forward compared to the traditional floor housing.
By combining a high level of automation with the use of vertical space, this housing system offers the most efficient production environment for hatching eggs.
Birds are easier to manage, because bird control takes place from outside the system. This reduces health causalities and ensures a higher level of biosecurity. The NEW Veranda system is very successful in several countries over the world, both for layer and broiler breeders.”
What are the main features of the NEW Veranda system?
“The NEW Veranda Breeder housing has been called “Royal class housing system” and offers a 5-star accommodation for layer and broiler breeders. The units are now particularly suitable for the broiler breeder housing, providing excellent results and new opportunities for the broiler breeder sector as well. The NEW Veranda system has been designed to meet the requirements of modern breeders, and fully complies with European standards for animal welfare. Birds are housed in a healthy environment and have a controlled access to the scratching area, where they are able to perform their natural dust bathing behaviour.
The previous Veranda system was 1 meter 15 high, equipped with a slat, a nest on the side, had only one common feeding line; a large group housing system, where males had to eat from the same feeding line as females.
Genetics has constantly progressed over time, leading to increased weight of broiler breeders. Based on these changes, we adapted the Veranda in two ways; firstly, we created a special area for feeding the males, so that now male and female have separate feeding lines. The NEW Veranda is currently equipped with a pan or a chain feeder for females, while males eat from a pan feeder. Furthermore, the NEW Veranda system is wider and enriched as compared to the previous version, hereby adhering to EU law requested standards. We wanted to provide a more comfortable environment for the birds; therefore we designed a scratching area on the top of the nest which we call the ‘quality deck’. In short, birds live on the slat, eat and drink in the feeding area, use the nest for egg laying, and eggs are collected with the egg belt which is placed at the back of the nest.”
What have you changed in the system to improve birds’ welfare and make it more environmental-friendly?
“We have extensively tested the NEW Veranda system over a number of trials for more than 5 years. In our own test farm, we have performed trials in cooperation with Aviagen, achieving excellent results in terms of efficiency and hatchability. We adapted our housing units to the modern broiler bird, and hereby improving our management advices.
The Veranda system has been designed to ensure maximum comfort for breeder birds and farmer. Special designed slats improve comfort for the heavy broiler birds, while external egg collection with elevators increases automatization for the farmer. The implementation of a scratching area, what we call the ‘quality deck’ ensures birds’ welfare, by giving breeders an area where they can do their daily scratching and bathing. The NEW Veranda system can restrict access to the litter area. For example, when the birds are producing eggs in the early morning, they are not allowed to enter the scratching area in order to avoid floor eggs. After peak production hours, we can open the area again and birds can utilize the quality deck.
A high number of first class eggs are the key to success in breeder housing. In the NEW Veranda system an excellent egg quality is guaranteed with the integrated nest box, which can be closed at night, thereby preventing contamination of eggs by the birds. Thanks to the slightly inclined slats, out-of-nest eggs will roll to the nest by force of gravity.
On top of a royal class environment for the birds, the Veranda also ensures optimum working conditions and requires minimum labour for the farmer. Employees are no longer working between the birds, and benefit from a highly controlled working environment. For example, manure is collected on a manure belt, which is regularly transported out of the house. Hereby ammonia and fine dust levels are drastically reduced. Hygienic slats minimize the contact of birds with manure, thus improving bio-security, and reducing exposure to pathogens. By reducing the ammonia level, birds benefit from a more healthy environment, and grow without ammonia induced respiratory diseases or other health problems. With good reason, our promotional campaign refers to the NEW Veranda, as ‘Royal class breeder housing’, as with this system we provide everything a breeder needs”.
What are the main reasons for choosing the NEW Veranda System?
“Veranda housing is used in many parts of the world, as it ensures a high quality of hatching eggs. The units allow to save space, ensure a very low ammonia emission, reduce environmental impact, and improve animal welfare, whilst providing a sustainable system.
The Veranda can be built in 2 – 3 – 4 tiers and can be placed throughout the full length of the house. By the organization of the units in compartments, one can check all data coming from each level separately, such as how many eggs breeders are producing, chicken weight and feed distribution rate as well as consumption rate. Every level can be managed independently, allowing a better overall management and monitoring of production.
We have experience with the Veranda in different climates areas: from the moderate climates of Europe, to the desert ones of Australia and Saudi Arabia, from the extreme variable climate in Russia, thru the tropical conditions in Mexico and Taiwan. We have been able to achieve good environment results in the egg production in all these climates . As the system needs less floor space, farmers are able to invest in high quality house acclimatization, cooling/heating and ventilation systems. Altogether, the Veranda Breeder is the most modern breeder housing system on the market”.