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The new two story building

Big Dutchman celebrates expansion of US headquarters

Increasing growth and strong sales of modern pig and poultry equipment in North and South America has made it necessary for Big Dutchman USA to expand its headquarter operation in Holland, Michigan. The attractive... [more]

The new two story building

Big Dutchman celebrates expansion of US headquarters

Increasing growth and strong sales of modern pig and poultry equipment in North and South America has made it necessary for Big Dutchman USA to expand its headquarter operation in Holland, Michigan. The attractive new two story building adds 12,000 sq ft to the existing facility, doubling office space for Big Dutchman’s 138 employees. A new show room features innovative and future-oriented equipment and computer technology for the pig and poultry industry.

At the ceremonial building inauguration on October 15, Holland’s Chamber of Commerce and many guests witnessed the official cutting of the ribbon by Clovis Rayzel, President of Big Dutchman USA. Bernd Meerpohl, Chairman of the Board of Management, delivered compliments and a special message of thanks to the successful American team. Clovis Rayzel proudly stated that “this investment will help us better serve our rapidly growing business in the US, Canada and Latin America”. 

Big Dutchman is the industry leader in the development and sales of automatic feeding, housing and ventilation systems for pig and poultry management. Big Dutchman USA was established in the Holland/Zeeland, Michigan area in 1938 by the Dutch immigrant brothers Richard and Jack DeWitt. Their pioneer work led to the marketing of the world’s first automatic feeding machine for commercial poultry production. A restored antique “Champion” Chain feeder is now on display in the new reception area of the Holland facility. 

Big Dutchman has 800 employees in Germany and 2500 employees worldwide. It operates subsidiaries and logistic centers across six continents with sales in more than 100 countries. 


Front of building showing the new addition
From left to right, the people in the ribbon-cutting photo are: Terry Nienhuis, Andy Baer, Bernd Meerpohl (CEO, Big Dutchman), Marlies DeWitt (Widow of Big Dutchman Founder Jack DeWitt), Clovis Rayzel (President of Big Dutchman USA), Barbara Speicher, Dan Speicher, Warren Stuk, Ruth Stuk, and two members of the West Coast Chamber of Commerce.
Big Dutchman timeline featuring noteworthy events

Long-term study proves: Big Dutchman-system successfully tackles biofilms

Automatic rinsing in drinking systems improves hygiene and minimises medication residues

Broiler growing field study

The topic of improving the quality of drinking water by reducing biofilms is steadily gaining in importance in poultry production. Biofilms are a mix of bacteria and their metabolites. Pseudomonas,... [more]

Broiler growing field study

The topic of improving the quality of drinking water by reducing biofilms is steadily gaining in importance in poultry production. Biofilms are a mix of bacteria and their metabolites. Pseudomonas, Enterobacteriaceae (e.g. E. coli), Clostridia and different cocci are some of the bacteria which cause disease in poultry and which are frequently found in biofilms. Controlling biofilms therefore significantly contributes to improving bird health and minimising treatments with antibiotics.

All chemical substances which are added to the drinking water, such as feed supplements and medicaments, sediment in biofilms. These substances can, however, spread later, even after the treatment has been completed. This is called carry-over. It explains why German government analyses found antibiotic residues in drinking water even though the medication had been administered in the previous grow-out (“Carry-over study” by the North Rhine-Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection LANUV).


Preventing carry-over in poultry production

To prevent such carry-over, the German Federal Ministry of Feed and Agriculture (BMEL) recommends rinsing the entire drinking system after treating the batch with medicines (cf. BMEL fact sheet “Application of veterinary medicinal products in the livestock sector”, enclosure 3). Rinsing the drinking system is therefore an agricultural best practice. The waiting time to be observed before slaughtering only starts after this rinsing! 

Rinsing is often not carried out properly as it requires much effort when done manually. Technical solutions which can significantly reduce this effort have therefore become necessary.

Big Dutchman has been offering automatic rinsing systems for poultry growing as well as layer management for several years. The poultry equipment supplier carried out a small field study on a broiler growing farm in cooperation with the veterinary group clinic Doctors Windhaus & Hemme, Vechta, Germany to analyse possible effects on performance and drinking water hygiene. One of two identical houses was retrofitted with an automatic rinsing system (fig. 1 and 2). Over the course of several grow-outs, the retrofitted house was compared with the unchanged house.


Automatic rinsing for broiler growing – functional description 

A 24 V solenoid valve with bypass is installed at each pressure regulator of the drinking line for automatic rinsing. When this valve is opened, the pressure regulator is bypassed and the water from the water connection unit flows directly into the drinking system, at a supply pressure of approximately 1.5 to 2 bar. Due to the high speed of the water during rinsing, biofilms and other deposits are flushed from the inner walls of the drinker pipe. To remove the dirt particles automatically from the nipple pipe afterwards, a rinsing outlet is required at the end of the line. This outlet is used as drain (fig. 3). 

A special computer controls the rinsing process according to previously set times. Only one valve is piloted for each rinsing process to ensure that the pressure remains constant. The rinsing times depend on the length of the drinking system. As a rule of thumb, 50 meters of drinking line can be flushed per minute.


Practical feedback from “real-life” poultry production

At the beginning of each broiler grow-out or turkey and pullet rearing batch, the risk of biofilm formation is particularly high. This is due to a low flow rate of the drinking water and high temperatures inside the house necessary for the birds. Regularly rinsing the drinking system reduces the bacteria count in the water. A further advantage is the constant availability of fresh water, which positively affects the birds’ water consumption and, subsequently, their feed intake. The rinsing process seems to be especially sensible when carried out after the dark phases, during which the water stands in the branch lines. The drinking system should/must also be rinsed after medication was administered (BMEL fact sheet). The following analyses were carried out to document effects on performance and bacteria reduction. 

Production data of the test farm 

For a detailed analysis of the effects of regular rinsing during a grow-out, two identical houses for broiler growing (20 m wide and 94.5 m long) with 40,000 bird places each were selected in the Münsterland region in Germany. The water supply and poultry feeding systems are identical in both houses and consist of four feed lines and eight drinking lines. The automatic rinsing system was retrofitted for all drinking lines of house 1.

Performance was determined based on payments from the slaughterhouse and invoices of the feed supplier. One remarkable finding showed that the live weights of the broilers in house 1 increased after installation of the automatic rinsing system while the duration of the batch remained the same (fig. 4). The average live weight gain for three consecutive batches amounted to 58 g per bird (+ 2.17 %). The examined broilers were from the same Ross 308 breeder herds. The average slaughtering age was 41 days. 

Mean values from the three analysed grow-outs showed that the accumulated feed consumption per broiler was 4.16 kg in house 1 (with rinsing), and the water consumption per bird was 6.84 l. For house 2 (without rinsing), these numbers were lower than in house 1: 4.05 kg of feed and 6.71 l of water per bird. 
Mortality rates in both houses were similar and between 2 and 2.3 %. 

Bacteriological analyses of the drinking water

Water samples were taken from the end of every second drinking line immediately after the end of a batch (fig. 5), i.e. a total of eight samples per house could be analysed. The number of colony-forming units (CFU) was tested at 22°C. 

Figure 6 indicates the average number of CFU at 22°C as measured by the laboratory and compares house 1 (with rinsing) with house 2 (no regular rinsing).

The bacteria count for the drinking lines in house 2 is clearly higher than in house 1. The number must be considered to be at an “increased” (100–1000 CFU) or even “alarming” (1000–10 000 CFU) level according to the evaluation key for drinking water published by the Chamber of Agriculture of North Rhine-Westphalia. 
The growth potential at an incubation with 22°C proves that the found germs originate from biofilms. However, none of the two houses showed pathogenic germs in the drinking water. The analyses do illustrate the possible growth potential of such germs, though.

Final evaluation: advantages for poultry production 

This field test was able to prove the increase of final weights after the same grow-out duration in three consecutive batches. The bacteria count in the analysed drinking water samples from house 1 (with automatic rinsing system) were clearly lower. A reduced bacteria load in the drinking water could be the reason for the increase in performance. Only birds whose immune system is not as stressed are able to meet their full potential.

Moreover, poultry is animated to eat and drink more if the offered drinking water is fresh and clean, provided that the environmental conditions remain the same. A further advantage may be the supply of cooler water on extremely hot days, which can prevent death from heat strokes. 

The most important benefit for poultry producers, however, is that medication residues from treating a previous batch with antibiotics are reduced (as required by the legislator) by rinsing the drinking system. This simple drinker cleaning system therefore provides poultry growers and egg producers with the option to reduce efforts while at the same time observing agricultural best practices!

Fig. 1: House 1 of the broiler growing test farm with the newly installed automatic rinsing system
Fig. 2: Detailed image of the pressure regulator with 24 V solenoid valve
Fig. 3: Schematic diagram of the automatic rinsing system for poultry production
Fig. 4: Comparison of the average individual bird weights for broiler production with and without rinsing system
Fig. 5: Taking drinking water samples: Heating (a), 2 minutes of water draining (b), filling a sample into an autoclave container (c)
Fig. 6: Results of the bacteriological analysis
Dr. med. vet. Kristian Düngelhoef, Veterinary group clinic Doctors Windhaus & Hemme, Vechta, Germany / M. Sc. agrar Jörg Hurlin, Product manager Big Dutchman International GmbH, Vechta, Germany

International Egg Commission honours scientist from Vechta

“Professor Windhorst makes numbers talk”

Professor Windhorst accepts award in Edinburgh.

During its Global Leadership Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, the International Egg Commission (IEC) recently awarded Prof. Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst their Exceptional Service Award. Professor Windhorst is... [more]

Professor Windhorst accepts award in Edinburgh.

During its Global Leadership Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, the International Egg Commission (IEC) recently awarded Prof. Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst their Exceptional Service Award. Professor Windhorst is director of the Science and Information Centre for Sustainable Poultry Production (WING) at the University of Vechta in Germany.

In his laudatory speech, IEC chairman Cesar de Anda recognised Mr. Windhorst’s continued support and dedication as statistical analyst for the IEC. Mr. de Anda detailed that, in the past years, professor Windhorst had worked on 15 extensive publications for the IEC, in addition to numerous scientific essays. Topics included the role of egg production in global poultry farming, an atlas of the global egg production and a historical overview of the past 50 years in the global egg industry.

Cesar de Anda explained that the publications, filled with detailed figures and corresponding analyses, would be of great importance whenever the industry’s companies made decisions on new investments. The forecasts in these publications indicated new trends.

Moreover, Windhorst had made the numbers talk in his many presentations and talks and presented and explained global and national patterns and dynamics in egg production and trade to the participants of the conference. His scientific research played a significant role for the IEC today being seen as the international mouthpiece of this important branch of poultry industry.

Prof. Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst (second from the left) accepted the award from Joanne Ivy (third from the left) in the presence of his son, Dr. Daniel Windhorst (left), and Cesar de Anda (right). (Photo: IEC)

Pekin ducks show characteristic behaviour

Innovative Pekino cup drinker for duck production

Pekino cup drinker for duck production

Big Dutchman has recently included in their product range an innovative cup drinker for Pekin ducks. Pekino is the name of the animal-friendly innovation and it allows the ducks to drink water as well as to show... [more]

Pekino cup drinker for duck production

Big Dutchman has recently included in their product range an innovative cup drinker for Pekin ducks. Pekino is the name of the animal-friendly innovation and it allows the ducks to drink water as well as to show their characteristic poultry behaviour thanks to the deep-drawn shape of the cup drinker. In contrast to conventional drinkers, the birds can submerge their entire head and preen extensively with the water consumed. The result is a flock of healthy and satisfied birds and thus ideal growing results. The drinker premiered on the occasion of this year's VIV Europe in Utrecht/Netherlands, the major European trade show.

„Our line of industry was enormously interested“, said Jörg Hurlin looking back to the successful launch. "We struck the right chord with this drinker. Since then, we have already received requests from Australia, Great Britain, France and Taiwan," said the Big Dutchman product manager.

The line's interest occurs with good reason. Duck meat is a very popular food in many countries of the world. In China, Pekin ducks are one of the favourite dishes. But also in Germany it is eaten quite frequently. Duck meat used to be prepared mostly for Christmas or Easter, but today it is on demand all year long.


Council of Europe recommendations for duck production 

In Germany, ducks are either kept in open or solid houses. For reasons of drinking water and litter quality, nipple drinkers have established themselves as a supply of water. However, they go against the birds' behavioural requirements.

If access to water for bathing is not possible, the European recommendation of 22 June 1999 (article 11, paragraph 2) prescribes that the ducks must be provided with water facilities sufficient in number and so designed to allow water to cover the head and be taken up by the beak so that the Pekin duck can shake water over the body without difficulty. Thus ducks should be allowed to dip their heads under water completely.


Ducks all in blue 

This recommendation inspired the development of Pekino. The ducks themselves have provided evidence to meet European requirements. In order to determine how deep the birds submerge their heads and how much they spread the water over their plumage it was mixed with food colouring. Result: Pekin ducks coloured bright blue from head to uropygial gland.

Hygiene is also taken care of: "We have equipped Pekino with a special rim to return water and an overflow protection. This significantly reduces water losses which improves litter quality," Jörg Hurlin explains another advantage of the drinker. A mobile pendulum ensures the cup is constantly replenished with fresh water, so that the duck itself ensures that the cup is kept full.

Pekino is fit for successful every-day use, as it is the result of an ongoing joint project of experts involving theory and practice for two years now. Besides Big Dutchman, contributions come from Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, two duck managers with many years of experience in the field, a veterinarian, a producer of drinking systems and a genetics company.


Plastic flooring for duck production 

A further result of this cooperation is a plastic flooring for duck production, which Big Dutchman has launched together with Pekino. It has been designed specifically for the requirements of ducks and improves hygiene in the house. 

The Pekino cup drinker is equipped with an overflow protection, a special rim to return water and a mobile pendulum to ensure the water flow.
Pekin ducks can submerge their entire head.
Clean nostrils, healthy eyes
Ducks coloured blue from head to uropygial gland
The plastic slat has been designed specifically for the requirements of ducks.

Egg production: Big Dutchman customer on Kiwi TV

Eggs from enriched colony systems or free range hens – do you know what you’re buying?

Campbell Live educates viewers on egg production systems.

How much do you know about where your eggs come from? Campbell Live, a half-hour long New Zealand current affairs programme, just asked this exact question in a report recently broadcasted on TV 3. To come up with... [more]

Campbell Live educates viewers on egg production systems.

How much do you know about where your eggs come from? Campbell Live, a half-hour long New Zealand current affairs programme, just asked this exact question in a report recently broadcasted on TV 3. To come up with an answer as thorough as possible, reporter Sarah Stewart visited New Zealand’s biggest egg producer Mainland. The Big Dutchman customer produces eggs in traditional poultry cages, to be phased out in eight years, and has been trialling enriched colony systems since 2007. This new laying hen management system was delivered by the German poultry equipment supplier. Furthermore, Mainland has embarked on free range egg production. The report presents all systems in a very detailed manner, so whichever egg Mainland egg buyers choose, they know precisely where it comes from.

The full report from Sarah Stewart is available on Campbell Live’s website – and just a click away!

Has your egg been produced in an enriched colony system? Or by free range hens? John Campbell and his team are explaining egg production systems.

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