By Katie Keiger
Poultry Times staff
GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Technology is a growing industry, but arguably the most influential piece of technology common people own is their phone. Specifically, the technology in phone applications, which can be as diverse in the topics covered as they are precise in potential execution.
The weather is an unpredictable factor that must be taken into account for farming on a daily basis. According to Agweb, there are weather applications that can help farmers in all stages of farming. “NOAA High-Def Radar Pro” is an app that allows purchasers to explore the recent history a location’s droughts and wildfires. Farmers can zoom in on particular areas, scan to see past problems of the place and then use the information about the soil to prepare for the next sowing season.
Some programs allow for even more in depth views of a location’s soil. For example, “SoilWeb” shows exactly what type of soil is in an area and how deep it probably is. Users of this app would still need to manually research to find out more applicable information regarding crop use in specific soil.
During inclement weather, cattle and other animals require shelter. However, as the daily forecast is not always accurate, it is difficult to know how severe a storm will be until it hits an area.
Several applications can give minute-by-minute updates about the weather and tell how long a storm will be in the area, which can be useful when dealing with a restless herd. Agweb suggests “Dark Sky” as it can be programmed to give alerts to people who cannot constantly check the weather.
Light rain can be tolerated by chickens, but it can also lead to excess moisture being tracked in from organic poultry producers’ chickens that must be allowed outside access. Moisture in broiler houses can lead to ammonia and bacteria build up.
Understanding this, Michael Czarick, a poultry housing engineer at the University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science, created Chkminvent, an app to calculate to measure moisture.
According to a paper published in UGA’s “Poultry Housing Tips,” the program factors in inside and outside temperature and humidity and ventilation ability to estimate the minimum ventilation fans runtime to achieve a moisture balance. Chkminvent is free and only available on Apple devices.
Moisture correlates with heat, but not always directly, and if animals are outside, nothing can be done about humidity issues. Apps that compute heat stress based on the environment outside can help ranchers determine how long to keep their animals outside on hot days. Some of these apps even provide solutions and tips on how to reduce heat stress.
The belief of “you are what you eat” is true with animals, as research has shown with the effect of antibiotics and vitamin supplements. Some programs give general consumption measurements based on weight of the animals and ingredients in the food, while others give nutrition facts about products and what they will do to help animals grow.
The marketing side of farming can be as unpredictable as growing the crops or tending to the animals. There are applicants that show the changes in daily market prices and predict future economy shifts. “KIS Futures” allows users to track prices of grains and livestock, but has mixed reviews in performance.
Financially maintaining a farm is the same as managing a business. “Poultry,” “Poultry Manager 2.0,” “Chicken Farm Calculator” and “Poultry Mobile” are poultry specific applications that offer services to help poultry producers with managing a business plan, cash flow and bird health.
Illnesses can cost any industry money, and in poultry houses diseases must be addressed as quickly as possible to prevent further contamination.
The University of Missouri created “Poultry Diseases” which features a search engine with information of different diseases as well as visual aids. The app is $9.99 and was designed for veterinarian professionals, but Farmer’s Weekly said that it can be for anyone with an interest in poultry health.
There are cheaper applications to diagnose and understand animal diseases and many that serve a variety of species. Some programs can show treatments to individual viruses and others simply provide checklists to help producers figure out what illness an animal has.
It is important to research before purchasing or downloading an app, as even the free ones can take up space or possibly slow down the phone’s speed. There are apps for finding apps, but David Nield of Gizmodo said that reading reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are the best ways to filter search results.