Getting broiler chicks on the feed as soon and as much as possible is a goal everyone in the industry is chasing for maximum feed intake and growth. However, chicks in the feed pan have adverse effects. That, among other factors, triggered Roxell to put an innovative idea to the test. Three years of research, development and field testing resulted in the new CoMeo grill less feeder.
With more than 45 years of experience in making and selling feeding systems it could come as a surprise there is still room for improvement. The current Roxell systems MiniMax and HaiKoo perform well. However, within the concept there were limitations to make them even better.
Innovative chick feeder
That is why we undertook a journey towards a whole new concept,'' says Ben Dehaeck of Roxell. Starting with a blank canvas, the company put the needs of the chick and the farmer on center stage. "We were searching for the ideal pan, simple, labour friendly and a feeder with easy access and the design to prevent chicks from getting into the pan.'' That the design had to be without a grill was the simplest conclusion to be drawn, but many of the other features took some more thinking.
Preventing feed waste, improving feed conversion
By just removing the grill one doesn't prevent the chicks from getting into the pan, scratching out the feed and spoiling it with manure. By adding so called fins the designers created what are in essence individual feeding positions, small enough to prevent the chick from stepping into the pan. The lowest minimum height of 6 centimeters ensures a good startup period, however, the challenge is to keep the feed in the pan, preventing spillage due to tipping of the pan by heavy broilers later in the round. A stepped profile of the bottom of the pan and an anti spillage rim did the trick. This prevented feed waste and improved overall feed conversion. Dehaeck: "The last years we saw a trend towards less and less bedding material due to well insulated or even heated floors and of course the cost factor of bedding. That enhanced the need for a low pan and consequent design solutions to make it work perfect.''
The same level of attention was given to the needs of the farmer. For one, the feeding system can run on computer guidance from day one, instead of manual control early in the round. Because there is no spillage, the pans are all filled to an equal, predetermined level. The biggest savings on labour come from the way the pan can be cleaned. "The pan rotates when a pressure washer is applied, ensuring proper and fast cleaning due to centrifugal forces. As an option an extra cleaning feature can be ordered. This gives access to the inside of the cone of the pan and –at the same time- closes the opening in the feed line. An area previously hard to clean properly is now within easy reach. Especially when a farm has a disease issue, one wants to be able to clean as good as possible.''
After two years of tinkering with the design Roxell brought the new pan to a number of commercial test farms. Via dealer Smits Agro in the Netherlands family Van de Schoot in Oirschot was one of them. Frans van de Schoot: "In theory the system looked well thought through, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The pan which was installed at our farm more than a year ago was a 90% finished product, designed in such a way that we could give feedback for improvements and make adjustments on the spot. Well, we did give feedback and Roxell listened. For instance; we discovered that by enlarging the fins by a fraction the feeder is more suitable for day old chicks. Also the cleaning feature was adapted by making the cone somewhat stronger. This ensures faster and better cleaning without damaging the pan.'' It is small changes like this, from the harsh daily practice, that will make the new CoMeo feed system a success, is the firm believe of Dehaeck.