Broadband Boost for Fowl and Family!

5th November 2010

BROADBAND technology on a Mid Ulster poultry unit is easing the workload, improving family life, farm margins and animal welfare standards.

Thomas and Maria McVey of Ballinderry Bridge, Co Londonderry obtained a Farm Modernisation Programme Tranche 1 grant towards the cost of installing CCTV cameras on their 20,000 bird broiler breeder unit supplying hatching eggs to Moy Park for export to Germany and Spain.

Cameras monitor birds down each side of three poultry houses built since 2004 when the McVeys let their land and concentrated on broiler breeders. By bringing broadband to the poultry houses Thomas can now use his PDA, to log onto the farm website and check each camera's view in turn.

"This is a tremendous management tool as any change in the birds' behaviour or environment is quickly spotted," explained Thomas. " I also work as a fieldsman for a farmers' co-op so linking CCTV cameras by broadband to my PDA gives tremendous peace of mind when away from home.

"This technology likewise allows us to record and store what every camera sees 24 hours a day for up to three months. Moy Park expects consistently excellent results from every crop of broiler breeders. The Farm Modernisation Programme grant, by helping us acquire this marvellous technology, has improved our management and family life.

"No longer are members of the family walking down to the unit at all hours of the day and night to check on birds, fans, drinkers and feeders."

As a further aid to good management and to animal welfare the McVeys with grant aid also acquired a standby auto generator, which comes on automatically should mains power fail. Vital given that fans stopping during hot weather quickly causes the birds distress leading to heavy losses.

"Maria and our children aged eight to 14 all help on the poultry unit as my farming has to be fitted in before 8am and after 6pm or over the weekends so the whole family has benefited from these innovations," Thomas noted.

The final item grant aided under the Farm Modernisation Programme for the McVey family was a road sweeper to keep the site tidy and help clean houses after birds leave at the end of lay.

Thanks to this grant aid Thomas and Maria are now achieving more in less time, at less cost, as they meet the very high standards needed when producing broiler eggs for export.

Thomas has no hesitation in encouraging others to apply under the current Tranche 2 Farm Modernisation Programme.

The Farm Modernisation Programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.