Veterinary consultant, Michael McCreesh, explains how disease can be more efficiently identified on-farm with the use of real-time monitoring technology.

The addition of wireless, sensor technology within a poultry house gives farm managers the ability to observe every corner of the shed, in minute detail.

With the sensors able to monitor key health and environmental parameters, such as water intake and weight gain, in real-time, farm managers and veterinary consultants can more efficiently identify symptoms of disease among a flock.

How poultry technology can support vets

When visiting a broiler farm for the first time, vets are often entering the house without a clear picture of historic flock performance issues. This can put vets on the back foot regarding the advice they can give to the farm manager.

Having access to data about the environmental parameters and health status of previous flocks, allows vets to have a much clearer idea on why the current flock may be performing as they are. It allows vets to better identity areas that could be hindering bird performance and how they could effectively resolve the issue.

All the parameters that are monitored by Poultry Sense allow the vet to make their best judgment on what disease may be affecting performance. For example, it can alert the vet to signs of whether it is an infectious disease or whether management practices have led to illness.

Common poultry diseases

The most common diseases found in broilers that farmers and vets will be looking for include:

  • Viral infections
    • Infectious bronchitis (IB)
    • Infectious bursal disease (IBD), commonly known as Gumboro
  • Bacterial infections
    • Necrotic Enteritis, E. coli, Enterococcus etc.
  • Coccidiosis
  • Nutritional imbalance
    • Vitamin D, Hypoglycaemia etc.

Symptoms of these diseases will most commonly arise in changes to water and feed intake and weight gain. These are the three parameters that should be considered most influential when monitoring for the above diseases.

Optimum environmental conditions to avoid disease

Monitoring software, such as Poultry Sense, helps farmers to optimise the house conditions ahead of a new flock arriving and to maintain these conditions throughout the flock cycle.

Keeping the birds in their ideal ‘comfort zone’, from the outset will help set them up to develop robust immune systems. Conditions will change as the birds grow, making it all the more important to keep a close eye on how the birds react to changes to their environment. Monitoring changes in such a granular way will allow for symptoms of ill health to be easily detected earlier in its development throughout the birds’ life allowing for more prompt intervention if and when required.

To find out more about Poultry Sense and the transformative technology that is being deployed on poultry farms across the UK, visit