Inseminators and ergonomic specialists have developed new equipment to improve both human and animal welfare during insemination. The most recent system is Gallicomfort, a bench, which allows the insemination team to work at lifting height. The turkeys are guided up a ramp to the insemination bench. The catchers then transfer the hens, one at a time, at lifting height, to the inseminator by sliding them across the bench’s table. Because the catcher can slide the hens across the table, instead of lifting them, the amount of weight lifted after 2,400 inseminations is reduced to 3.5 tons, compared to 7 tons when hens are picked up off the ground.
The design of the bench’s table also provides adequate room for the catcher to reposition his feet when sliding the hen across the table. This leads to a reduction in the amount of twisting that occurs during the transfer when compared to AI using a chair in both a pit and ramp setup. The bench also improves the inseminator’s working conditions. The addition of an adjustable stool allows the height of the workstation to be adjusted to the employee carrying out the insemination. The stool reduces the inseminator’s exposure to prolonged periods of standing, which are often associated with back pain. Furthermore, the
incorporation of an ergonomic armrest places the inseminator’s hand at the correct height, reducing strain on the shoulder. It also allows him to easily guide his arm from the straw filler to the hen for insemination.
By incorporating this system, turkey farms can maintain or improve their productivity levels; a team of five should be able to inseminate 700 turkeys per hour.
Improving employee welfare and maintaining high productivity levels are not the only factors of production that improve. This system also helps improve the turkeys’ welfare. Housing turkeys in small group pens is no longer needed; they are able to move around freely. The handling of the hens is also more controlled. They are slid across a smooth table and placed directly in front of the inseminator. After insemination, they are released to an exit ramp positioned below the bench.
Human and animal welfare are key concerns for today’s turkey industry. Equipment and tools are already available to help improve breeders’ working conditions, but room is always available for new and enhanced solutions.