You all know that integrators will ask you to make certain upgrades to your farm. We hear some farmers who don't really want to spend any more money on these upgrades, and some who choose to give them a try. But what should you do? Does investing in these upgrades pay off?
Should you make integrator-recommended upgrades to your poultry farm?
To help you decide, we'll share the experience of one of our long-time customers, a poultry farmer from Virginia.
In 2004, this grower's company offered to pay him more per pound if he made a few changes to his farm, like upgrading computers, tunnels and cool cell pads. The pay increase would begin when the upgrades were made and continue indefinitely. This particular grower reluctantly decided to take this offer and make the upgrades in hopes that they would pay off and improve his farm business in the long run.
Eight years later, in 2012, the increase in pay had completely paid for the upgrades. But now in 2023, after 11 more years, he is still getting that extra pay per pound. So, it took eight years to break even on the upgrades, but he has made extra profit for 11 years and counting.
In 2019, this same grower received a strong suggestion from his company to make another upgrade, but with no incentive. The company simply gave a strong urging for him to transition from curtains to a solid wall. Although there was no immediate incentive, he decided to make this upgrade. Fewer than four years later, these upgrades have almost paid for themselves through gas and electricity savings.
Allen's Encouragement #1
Based on the experience of this grower and many others, I have an encouragement for farmers who are considering making upgrades. Most growers who make upgrades on some of their houses see better performance in the birds in the upgraded houses compared to the birds in the non-upgraded houses.
Farmers who make upgrades typically see savings or increased pay plus better bird performance, which we see as the bottom line of your farm. After all, your farm is a business, which means it needs continuous improvement.
Allen's Encouragement #2
My next encouragement is more on the negative side. I do know a few growers who chose not to make upgrades their integrator suggested, and well, they are no longer farmers. It's possible that when an integrator makes a strong suggestion of a farm upgrade, it may really be a hint that they're setting a new standard for their farms. If you don't make a certain upgrade, it's possible you'll get your contract pulled in a few years.
Make the Best Decision for You
I'm not saying that you should blindly accept and implement any upgrade your integrator suggests. I'm just encouraging you to think about it and decide if the potential savings, pay increase or farm improvement will pay off in the long run.
Have any questions or ideas for future Poultry Biosecurity videos? Contact Allen Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-608-3755.
About the Author
This blog was written by Allen Reynolds, Southland Organics’ Poultry Sales Manager. Allen spent years working on poultry farms, from installing equipment to dumping chicks. He has been helping poultry farmers overcome obstacles since 2014, focusing on poultry farm strength in the antibiotic-free environment since 2017. He has traveled thousands of miles and worked closely with hundreds of farmers during his time with Southland Organics. Allen is known by even more farmers from the YouTube channel Poultry Biosecurity, where he regularly appears in videos that educate farmers on topics like bird health and farm business. Learn more about Allen here.
This blog was edited by Izy Dobbins, Southland Organics' Marketing Manager. Izy has devoted her education and career to communicating science-related topics. With an enthusiasm for sharing accurate and honest content relating to science and agriculture, she ensures Southland Organics' publications are as informative as they are interesting. Izy graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in Advertising, minors in both Spanish and Environmental Health Science and a certificate in Sustainability. She has been working at Southland Organics since 2021. Learn more about Izy here.