Rod and Lisa Grant, who run the Newcastle NSW based Pro Wash Poultry enterprise, are Australian agents for the Canadian designed and built Feed Caddy, a neat device that automates the arduous task of laying out paper and feed for broiler chicks prior to their placement in sheds.
On July 23, 2013 Rod and Lisa met a group of broiler farmers at the Bulahdelah NSW farm owned and operated by Ray and Rita Vella who are contract growers for Baiada. The family has owned and operated the three tunnel ventilated shed farm for just over seven years. It is situated in beautiful countryside and apart from the broiler farm, Ray runs cattle on the 125 acre property. As a long standing client of Pro Wash Poultry, Ray was kind enough to allow his farm and sheds to be the site of a demonstration for a group of local growers keen to see how they could make the task of preparing their sheds for a new batch easier.
Ray hooked up his ATV to the Feed Caddy unit while Rod demonstrated the quick and simple task of loading up the Feed Caddy with a roll of biodegradable paper (also supplied by Pro Wash). On the day, the hopper of the Feed Caddy Unit was filled from either the shed auger or by bin from the feed silo of each shed. Once a grower has acquired a Feed Caddy, Rod pointed out that constructing a simple shute from the silos to fill the unit directly would further save time in loading up the Feed Caddy.
In his sheds, with around a 28,000 bird capacity, Ray uses about 800 kg of feed placed on the paper under the feed pans. Operating at a brisk walking pace behind Ray’s ATV, the Feed Caddy delivered a uniform ribbon of feed onto the paper.
Rod demonstrated the quick paper roll change and how the roll drive works through a geared chain drive. There is a release pin operating through the wheel to enable the roll to be pulled out manually to start the rollout and feed delivery process. Rod also showed how the feed delivery volume could be increased or reduced by the simple movement of a lever with graduated scale.
In the feed hopper there is a line which shows the level at which the unit is full. In the case of the demonstration unit which has a 1 tonne capacity, Ray was filling to just below the line, i.e. 800 kgs.
Lisa explained that there are three models in the range, the 1 tonne, 500 kg and 200 kg. “We anticipate that the 1 tonne unit will be the most popular, particularly for larger farms where saving labour cost is critical to profitable operation,” Lisa said. “The 200 kg unit is probably more suitable for smaller farms,” she added.
“All the Feed Caddy models are of extremely robust construction and high quality materials are used in their manufacture,” Rod explained. “Originally the design idea came from a Canadian broiler farmer with extensive experience in the industry and that fact is clearly demonstrated in the Feed Caddy’s design and ease of operation. They are built to work easily on broiler farms and last in tough conditions. They have been in operation for some time in North American markets and are a proven product,” he said.
Certainly when Rod demonstrated the Feed Caddy to Poultry Digest and the group of interested growers, the first question that springs to mind is ‘why didn’t somebody think of this before?’ Now when a grower has a Feed Caddy working in a typical broiler shed like the ones on Ray’s farm it can reduce a tedious three to four hour task to an operation that is completed more effectively and efficiently in 45 minutes or less. Apart from the labour saving component, the fact that the Feed Caddy unit can distribute feed more uniformily will almost certainly result in productivity gains.
Ray likes to see all the feed laid out for placement consumed within 48 hours and the birds adapted to their feed pans. The feed pans in two of Ray’s three sheds are the SKA ‘Lyra’ system supplied by Joe Vella from Protective Fabrications. “These pans give me a significant advantage in getting the birds to pick up weight in a shorter time, in fact it could be up to a couple of days. “The SKA pan seems to suit the young birds better than the more open pan design of the older feeders in our third shed,” he reckons.
The Feed Caddy is just one of a range of innovative products now sold by Rod and Lisa Grant’s Pro Wash Poultry service. Other items in the range include the US built Priefert Litter Saver which pulverizes, aerates, dries and levels existing litter for re-use and will be complemented by Pro Litter, a conditioning treatment that will be available later this year.
There is Biowish manure & odour treatment and Zydox, a chlorine dioxide based water treatment product which has been demonstrated to have significant success in contributing to improved bird health in New Zealand. Also the Grillo, a ‘walk behind’ tractor used for decaking litter during a batch and is a multi purpose unit that can be used for a number of basic land management tasks on farm.
Their Intra Chickpaper is a Dutch manufactured product which Rod and Lisa believe to be superior to alternative papers in attracting chicks to feed and water and in its capacity to degrade faster after it has achieved its primary task.
The path to a rapidly expanding business for Rod and Lisa is an interesting one. Rod had worked in the mines for a long period and Lisa was involved with human health research when they decided, just over 11 years ago that they had reached the stage in their lives with a young family, where self employment was their best option.
Through relatives they had some knowledge of poultry farming, enough to be enthusiastic about the idea, but not enough to be aware of the pitfalls, they acquired a neat four shed broiler farm in a tranquil area just outside Newcastle. As their experience grew they became aware that shed cleaning was an arduous task and that external cleaners were sometimes less than assiduous in completing what is an essential task for broiler rearing.
“Rod has a practical approach to anything around a farm and we soon developed better ways of doing things including cleaning the sheds,” Lisa explained. “As we met more people in the industry and our skills improved, Rod was asked to help other growers in achieving better shed sanitisation and before we knew it we had started a business – Pro Wash Poultry. “We soon put a manager on at our farm and moved back to Caves Beach. Demand for our wash-down and spray sanitation services continued to grow and after a few more years we decided to sell the farm. When the farm sold I started Prime Style Fashions, a mobile fashion parade and sales business catering to the over 50’s retirement market. My fashion event and clothing sales concept developed into a profitable but very time consuming business.”
“So we were running both Pro Wash Poultry and travelling all over the state with the fashion shows: something had to give,” she said. “We decided that our core business was Pro Wash Poultry, so we sold the fashion show business to concentrate on expanding the range of services we could offer to our growing client base in the poultry industry.
Sourcing products like the Feed Caddy and Litter Saver were logical extensions to our core business. “Now as the industry moves towards litter re-use there are more opportunities to help farmers achieve efficient litter saving which has both cost and environmental benefits but requires a careful approach to on farm management,” she concluded.
Poultry Digest would like to thank Rod and Lisa Grant directors of Pro Wash Poultry for a ‘grand (and instructive) day out.’ We learned a lot more about both the constants and changes in the business we all work in. Also thanks to Ray and Rita Vella who made us welcome on their farm and gave up so much of their time to explain and demonstrate aspects to preparing a shed for ‘the next batch’ and they fed us all as well!