Broiler Breeders – Higher Thorne Farm, Devon

"In draperVENT I knew I had found a team that had all the right equipment, the right knowledge and the right attitude to compliment my guys and all bed in together."

The challenge

The Smaldon family have been in broiler breeding since the early 60ies, latterly supplying the Cargill Group with around 36k pullets per crop. They have met the ongoing demand to increase production at Higher Thorne Farm, in North Devon, by building 4 new houses, 380 x 45ft each to house a flock of 9,000 hens and 900 cockerels. The challenge was to supply the light-tight ventilation, feed management, bird weighing, water delivery measurement, lighting and control, as a fully integrated, streamlined system. The breeding set up has a different set of requirements and issues to those found in broiler units. For example heating is not used at Higher Thorne Farm, as 100 birds produce 1 KW of heat. Ventilation is crucial to ensure optimum litter condition, which needs to be deep and friable enough to permit good microbial action to generate heat for a warm floor. Good litter also means that eggs laid on the floor will still be viable for hatching.

The solution

When selecting a supplier, one of the key requirements was to work with a company that could manage all the separate applications, bringing them together as a one stop shop. Richard wanted a total solution that had clean lines and was already fully integrated. Ventilation: Standard ridge extraction with ridge fans were chosen to sit side by side with the original units for a consistent appearance. The chimney fans selected were fitted with 820mm diameter fans from Ziehl Abegg for ultimate reliability and efficiency. The supplementary gable end fans were from Termotecnica Pericoli. All were fitted with light traps. Richard requested inlets from SKOV which were also fitted with light traps. Ventilation management is managed by draperVENT FORTICA computer controlling temperature, humidity and CO2 levels to specification. This incorporates data management with on-line access to enable remote monitoring & supervision. Supported by a comprehensive alarm system. Feed Management: In a breeding unit, males and females have differing nutritional requirements so are fed separately. The feeding system incorporates chain feeders for the females fitted with cockerel exclusion grilles as well as male pan feeders. Load cells are under each of the silos as well as the female day bin. Male rations are measured at the line hopper. A draperVENT FORTICA FWS feed management computer manages each pair of sheds, also with data logging and remote access.

Lighting: The houses are equipped with Agrilamp’s ALIS 11W dimmable LED lighting system using 4 rows of 38 lamps. These are contactless induction units allowing for ease of replacement during the crop. Their rated life is 60,000 hours or more. As with any installation, the ability to work with other contractors and managers is part of a cooperative, flexible and solutions led team was paramount.


Richard knew that draper would work seamlessly with his staff to make all aspects come together.

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