Back in the day, all a farmer needed to make something grow was a little bit of determination. Whether it be crops in the field or animals on a piece of land, a strong will could propel them to success. Sure, a tractor, some fertilizer or feed, and a little bit of luck could come in handy, but the farmer has always been the constant in making an operation flourish.
Today, technology provides farmers with a helping hand that can take luck all but out of the equation, even when running chicken houses.
Steven Richard Goodnight, along with his wife, Deanna, recently built six chicken houses with state-of-the-art technology on their farm in Perry County. The Goodnights can control all of their chicken houses with the touch of a button from their phones, computer, iPad or one screen in their chicken houses.
Each of the six chicken houses on Goodnight Farm contains 37 thousand growing chickens. With that many animals under his care, Steven feels blessed to have access to such helpful technology.
“I’m not great at (figuring out) technology, but I’ve learned,” Steven said. “It made (operating six chicken houses) really simple and really easy.”
A former electrician, who used to wire chicken houses with his father, Steven now runs up a minimum of six batches of chickens through his farm each year.
“I remember when we first started wiring chicken farms, the biggest farms we worked on had about three houses,” he said. “Because they didn’t have the manpower, they had to stay there 24 hours a day. They couldn’t leave, couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. They had to stay right there all day long.”
Fortunately for the Goodnights, the technology installed in their chicken houses allows them to have a more flexible schedule than chicken farmers in the past.
Darrell Nevins, district manager for AgCo in Amory, helps the Goodnights manage their technology system called The Edge. The Edge technology system controls feed, hydration, ventilation, temperature and more in each chicken house.
“It’s necessary to have the right tools for the right job,” Darrell said. “Having this type of technology definitely frees up time for the grower to spend more time, if they desire, in their houses with the birds, or more time away from the farm. They are able to access their farm with the touch of an app on their phone.”
Darrell said only six farms in Mississippi are outfitted with The Edge technology system, technology that takes the guesswork out of raising nearly one million chickens in a year for the Goodnights.
“If he has a feed line running dry, for instance, The Edge will actually turn that feed line off as it alarms him,” Darrell said. “He actually has to acknowledge the alarm before that feed line will come back on. It basically takes all the guesswork out.”
Goodnight also receives an email as often as he wants with data reports about how well the farm is running.
“As long as we have our phones and our iPads with us, we can still operate our farm,” Steven said.