Birds and buildings are a big investment and we are constantly looking for ways to protect our livestock and make the most efficient use of our facilities. At a poultry exhibition a year ago I checked out a sensor system designed to monitor everything from temperature to feed and made a purchase.
To say our managers are happy with Dirt Road Data – www.dirtroaddata.com - would be putting it mildly. Dirt Road Data allows us to monitor barns, rooms in barns, temperature changes and a host of other things on iPads, smartphones, tablets or PCs. Our facilities are staffed at least from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., but that window between was always worrisome. Managers would wake up to alarms in the middle of the night and have to get up and go to a facility.
With Dirt Road Data, which is a web-based virtual system, they can log in and see exactly what the problem is instantly. It could be that the temperature dropped one degree below what they wanted and they just need to monitor it for a time to see if it goes up, or it could a fan that stopped working which means a trip to a barn.
The old system was cumbersome, you would have to call a number, follow the prompts to get to the right barn and if something happened during the call, you would have to start all over. With Dirt Road Data, you can just log in, touch the facility on a map that you want to check and it brings up everything that is being monitored. So I can log on and look at the temperature in one of the “A” rooms (chicks) in one of the barns with a couple of touches – and see all of the other rooms at the same time, too.
We also had problems with false alerts on the old system. A chick would peck on a part of the system and it would be what would be classified as a wire error – something that didn’t materially affect the system or the barn atmosphere – and there was no way to tell what the problem was unless someone went to the barn. Dirt Road Data components are very hardy and we have had none of those problems.
Right now most of our managers are using it to monitor temperatures because keeping those constant is crucial to everything, but we also have a manager using it to keep tabs on water pressure to make sure there aren’t well problems at remote locations. Dirt Road Data can eventually track our feed and let us know when we are running low; keep track of inventory, chart mortality rates and store data with a paperless system that still allows us to print out information if we want. There’s a great video on their website – www.dirtroaddata.com and some actual screenshots of how the data looks – easy to read with clear numbers.
Our managers are getting a lot more sleep now that we have this system to rely on.