Starting 18 months ago, all ELISA tests at Rose Acre Farms Laboratory have been conducted with the BioChek Elisa Assay Robot (BEAR). Dan Wilson is the poultry veterinarian at Rose Acre Farms.
He considers the BEAR to be an asset for Rose Acre Farms, as it greatly helps with monitoring the health of the flocks.
Over the years, Rose Acre Farms has grown from a rural chicken farm into one of the largest producers of eggs and egg products in the USA. The headquarters of this American family company was established in the 1930s in Seymour, Indiana. It also has locations in six other American states with additional farms in developement. Rose Acre Farms’ operational management is self-sufficient. It has its own breeding and laying hen farms, as well as feed milling locations.
Dr Dan Wilson has been working as the poultry veterinarian at Rose Acre Farms since 2012. Before he was engaged, external veterinarians were always called in. Why did they decide now to have their own veterinarian?
“When I started working at Rose Acre Farms, the veterinary care was well organised.
Poultry veterinarians were called in when diseases and disorders broke out or to design vaccination programmes. Serological testing was outsourced to external laboratories. But there was no continuous health monitoring. And that was something the management was interested in changing, given their emphasis on production and set quality requirements. That led to the decision to employ a veterinarian.
One of the first matters that Wilson addressed was the serological testing. “I was not satisfied with the way in which the diagnostic serological testing was organised. And along with feed and living conditions, it is one of the most important items in the field of prevention and vaccination monitoring. The work was outsourced to several different laboratories. They did their work well. But Rose Acre Farms was overly dependent on the method these laboratories used. It had no influence on the test employed, the speed and timing of the result or the type of report. Each laboratory had its own procedure. That did not promote quality or efficiency.”
On Wilson’s recommendation, Rose Acre Farms decided to set up its own serological laboratory. “In that way, we gained more control over the serological testing; you can decide yourself whether, when and for what pathogens to test.” Wilson added, “It was just a coincidence that at that moment the BEAR was introduced. After a few good discussions with BioChek, we decided to outfit our laboratory with the BEAR This ELISA robot quickly proved its helpfulness. Neither my assistant nor I had much experience with conducting ELISA tests. And looking at the number of tests that needed to be done, we didn’t have the time, either. The BEAR solved these problems for us.. Not only that, it is extremely user-friendly. We put the samples in, start the device and don’t have to worry about anything. The testing takes very little of our time.” Wilson states that ELISA testing can also be done outside working hours. That’s handy if samples need to be tested urgently. “When I go home in the evening, I turn the BEAR on. At home I can log in to see if the robot is running well or if there are problems. I can resolve the situation remotely if necessary. And in the morning all of the test results are waiting. What else could you possibly want?”
Rose Acre Farms has now been working with the BEAR for about 18 months. Wilson is still enthusiastic.
“The results are extremely reliable, and I can make great trend analyses of the animals’ health with them. When Rose Acre Farms had just acquired the BEAR, I was testing several live IBD vaccines. I wanted to compare their effectiveness. As part of that analysis, I put several random samples in the device. I was amazed to find that we had a significant IBD challenge, despite the fact that we had vaccinated against IBD. Our live IBD vaccination programme was clearly not working properly. And I would never have found that out without the BEAR! I subsequently tested the entire company’s growing locations for IBD challenges. We were able to get the bursal disease challenge under control promptly thanks to the BEAR”
The BEAR works with a software program that records, compares and analyses all the data from the examined chicken flocks. Wilson considers that very important for monitoring the health of the poultry. “When I have to decide whether or not to vaccinate, for example, then I can get all the data I require from the software program. That is a tremendous benefit compared to other systems. There are comparable systems that only report the test results in pdf format. The results then have to be analysed manually. That not only takes time, it allows more errors to be made. The software provides continuous, very reliable monitoring of the chicken flocks.”
Overall, Wilson is very satisfied with the BEAR “The BEAR is clearly handy and reliable. The quality and quantity of our serology and ELISA testing have improved. And that means a great upgrading of our preventive care. This is exactly what the management was looking for. It is a real asset for Rose Acre Farms. Without a doubt.”