Forecasting egg-laying efficiency
ADAS, an RSK company and the UK’s largest independent agricultural and environmental consultancy, produced an innovative Excel-based flock forecasting model called Profile. This cost-benefit analysis tool is designed for laying-hen enterprises. By using the tool, egg producers can study and compare various what-if scenarios by changing the input cells and assessing their implications for performance and margins.
Using several farm-specific physical performance indicators, such as egg production, average egg weight, feed consumption and labour costs, the software calculates various production and economic performance metrics, such as gross margins and cost of production per dozen eggs. The user can compare various scenarios and multiple changes to inputs and costs with the original, in output and financial terms. For example, a producer can decide whether to use a higher-priced feed, which could increase egg numbers or egg weight, or reduce daily feed intake.
ADAS has used Profile on several research projects including Hennovation, which assessed the potential for practice-driven innovation through setting up innovation networks of farmers. It aimed to develop practical cost-effective solutions, and used the hen-laying sector as a case study. With the help of facilitators, the innovation networks were encouraged proactively to search for, share and use new ideas to improve hen welfare, production efficiency and sustainability.
As part of Hennovation, ADAS used Profile to assess the economic viability of the innovation ideas that producers wanted to trial on their farms. During project meetings, producers outlined what they thought the benefits of their ideas would be regarding production, mortality, etc. “Real” current data were input into the program and used as the baseline. Users explored different scenarios using agreed values for physical performance as well as the costs of the ideas. Producers praised Profile, as it allowed them to quantify the benefits and economic viability of their interventions, thereby prioritising them. They also thought there would be benefits in using the cost-benefit-analysis program as part of their routine management. ADAS has extended Profile’s use to egg-producer groups, individual farmers and farming companies.