Angel Eggs turn to data management for success

01-12-2020 | | |
Photo: Engelen Farm
Photo: Engelen Farm

When it comes to running a breeder farm, brothers Twan and Jeroen Engelen know every trick in the book.

The brothers literally grew up producing hatching eggs which are sought after far and wide internationally for their quality and hatchability. But with fast expansion came the need for better data management. That is why Angel Eggs farms turned to Evonik Porphyrio software to take their success story to the next level.

Brothers Twan and Jeroen Engelen have been at the helm of the broiler breeding family farm now for 6 years. Under their management they have expanded to 9 production locations in the south of the Netherlands. Today they produce around 2 million hatching eggs a week.

Angel Eggs B.V. is a third-generation family-run business that has been actively engaged in the production of hatching eggs since 1962. Over the past few years, the company – now run by brothers Twan and Jeroen Engelen – has expanded its production locations across the Netherlands to guarantee better products and services for its clients. To be able to guarantee quality, the brothers want to control as much as possible in the production chain. That is why they buy their own day-old chicks from the breeder company and rear the male and female parent stock on their own farms.

At 20 weeks of age, the birds move to the production location. In total, the company delivers approximately 2 million high-quality hatching eggs every week. And it does so internationally. Twan: “For over 50 years, we sold our hatching eggs and reared parent stock only for Dutch firms. However, in 2012 we started selling our eggs directly to businesses inside and outside the Netherlands, which eventually resulted in the founding of Angel Eggs BV; a hatching eggs trading company.” He continues: “Angel Eggs is a globally oriented company. We provide our hatching eggs to over a dozen countries spread over 4 continents. And if there is just one thing that we want to be known for, it is quality.”

Knowing what you do

An important ingredient in its success is how Angel Eggs manages its data, especially as it operates internationally. Like many businesses, having previously relied on basic tools such as paper records and spreadsheets, in 2014 the company began working with the intelligent data management software business, Porphyrio (now part of Evonik). “We have 9 production farms and we use Porphyrio to collect all the data from our chicken flocks and barns, our egg-production facilities. We can then compare the flocks and see where they are performing differently. We review our management every month so we can see what’s working and what isn’t,” explains Twan Engelen. “Using my own system took too much time and it didn’t give me a quick overview. I wanted to find a company that could do the job for us more easily and cheaply. We wanted to have the information about our flocks in a certain form and Porphyrio provides us with a very good solution. Our data management is now 95% digital and we have more information than ever before. There’s no paper involved anymore!”

Range of data

Angel Eggs uses Porphyrio to manage the range of data it collects. This includes the number of birds, how many are female or male, as well as the daily growth rate, feed intake, egg weight, barn temperature, CO2 levels, dirty eggs, broken eggs and floor eggs. “As producers of breeder eggs we have to focus on 2 animals: one is the female who is needed to produce lots of hatching eggs, and the other is the male who has to fertilise the female. You need a good balance in your poultry house,” says Twan. “I see the digital side of things becoming even more important but you still need the human understanding of what the data means. For instance, a chicken cannot grow a kilo in 1 week. If some data is missing or has been entered incorrectly, you’ll see some strange numbers and somebody needs to identify the problem.” That’s where the stockman makes a difference.

In the old days Twan used to read and record data on paper. Now it's all digitally interconnected. Photo: Michel Zoeter

In the old days Twan used to read and record data on paper. Now it’s all digitally interconnected. Photo: Michel Zoeter

Further integrated data management

Stockmanship is important but, that said, Twan does think that in the next 5 years he will be able to manage 95% of the processes at poultry farms in other countries because of the data he can collect. Not all the necessary data is available at the moment, Twan explains: “We can’t collect data on the temperature of the birds yet. In the future I’d like to be able to measure the data about the chickens, such as their temperature, directly, rather than using indirect data, such as the air temperature in the barn. This data would enable us to improve the results.”

“You are stronger together,” says Twan. Angel Eggs focuses on building long-term relationships with its clients and partners to safeguard the quality of their products and services. Twan: “This has included inviting Porphyrio employees to spend the day with us to give them a hands-on experience of breeder egg production. Only if everyone really understandings the finesses of parent stock farming, on the one hand, and data analysis, on the other, will we be on the same level when discussing the way forward.”

His words are endorsed by the software engineers. “Communicating more efficiently is an important next step in the development of the poultry industry,” says Kristof Mertens, Managing Director, Evonik Porphyrio. “The right partners along the production chain – from genetics to feed, hatchery, farming and processing – all need to be involved at the right time. Sharing data and knowledge appropriately is vital.”

Fabian Brockotter Editor in Chief, Poultry World