Real Air Solutions in New Zealand awarded SKOV Global Certified Dealer Status

On January 28, 2020 Poultry Digest travelled with SKOV’s Export Manager Arne Overgaard to Matamata on the North Island of New Zealand to visit SKOV’s distributor Real Air Solutions (RAS).
RAS was to be awarded SKOV’s Global Certified Dealer Status and Poultry Digest was present to witness the event and visit some local livestock sheds completed by RAS.
RAS is owned and operated by the partnership of Graham Kelly, an electrical engineer and Dave Mathews a contract grower producer, consultant and SKOV R&D advisor.
Though the company is best known for its long association with NZ’s broiler chicken industry, the company designs and can equip livestock sheds for most commercially grown species.
Dave was an Inghams’ contract grower for more than 14 years.
With their Office Manager Julie Parker keeping the paperwork and admin on the straight and narrow, Graham, Dave and Julie have the ideal skill sets to service the needs of what is arguably the most efficient broiler chicken industry in the world.
Chris Kelly is also employed by RAS and is based in Christchurch and handles all the South Island clients, predominately Tegel growers.
In recent times, as the popularity of free range and the Ingham’s Waitoa brand in particular, has grown both at home and in the export market.
Walk into a local Woolies in New Zealand and you are likely to bump into a life size image of Dave holding one of his free range chickens near the meat fridges.
Also Inghams has released a short U-tube video showing Dave’s farm and explaining how they rear the birds.
They first became SKOV agents in 2016 and can supply the full range of SKOV equipment for both pig and poultry producers.
To join the select band of SKOV’s Global Certified Dealers requires a prolonged and rigorous audit process to ensure the highest possible standards of service and customer satisfaction.
In presenting the certification documents and some tools to enhance communication with SKOV and customers, Arne stated that “we are proud to welcome RAS to our group of certified SKOV dealers”.
“RAS has demonstrated high commitment to the SKOV brand and they continuously offer support and guidance to their customers,” he said.
“The certification program is SKOV’S approval to secure that the dealer complies with the processes and standards as defined by SKOV.
“Our common target is to provide our customers with the best sales, delivery, installation and after sales service in the industry.
“Back in April 2019, the head of our Global Certification Program, Mads Elkjaer and myself visited RAS to commence the certification process, and it was a smooth and happy process,” Arne reported.
“RAS have a great knowledge of the market and where they are heading.
“Warehousing and systems to support the business are in place to drive the business forward.
“Currently RAS is only the second company in the world to receive our highest standard of dealer certification,” Arne concluded as he handed over the documents and gifts to celebrate the event.
Matamata in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island is heaven on a stick for farmers.
A mild climate, plenty of rain and fertile soils – ideal for corn soy crops and livestock feed.
Though RAS has up to this time been primarily involved with broiler growers, pig production is an important intensive livestock activity in NZ, and why wouldn’t it be?
SKOV, with its long heritage in Denmark, one of the world’s major pork producers, has perfected some of the most advanced technical systems to make pork producers competitive and profitable.
High levels of automation and energy efficient equipment have been developed by SKOV over long periods in the market.
The company’s automated ventilation systems improve welfare as well as productivity and can help lucky farmers in New Zealand make the most of their climate that is so ideal for intensive livestock production.
Matamata is about an hour’s drive from Tauranga Airport – a 35 minute flight from Auckland gets you there.
Dave Mathews picked Arne and Poultry Digest up for the drive to his base in Matamata.
On the way as we drive through the spectacular scenery of the Bay of Plenty region bounded by the Waikato River, Dave explained why the land around Matamata, where most of New Zealand’s free range farms are located, is so valuable.
“The climate is ideal for raising free range birds and the land, with rich volcanic soils and plenty of water, is ideal for maize and soy production.
The land values per hectare in the region are amongst the highest for agricultural production in the world and there is increased scarcity as urban spread and livestock rearing like dairy swallows up valuable arable space.
Today with a landmass of around 269,000 square km (a bit bigger than the UK) only 2.2 % is arable land as of 2016, a drop from 11% in 1961.
The consequence of this is that contract growers like Dave have huge investment tied up in the land value of their farms.
“If the land on which you build your sheds is around 80% of the total farm investment, it makes sense to build and equip sheds with the best technology that significantly contributes to achieving our world leading performance,” Dave stated.
The next day Dave took us to meet Matthew Sutherland who, with his wife Hannah, operate free range farms in the Matamata locality and the latest six shed enterprise was recently equipped and designed by Real Air Solutions.
Poultry Digest has been visiting poultry farms in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Thailand and Singapore over the last 20 years.
The latest farm completed for Matthew Sutherland that rears free range chicken for Ingham’s successful Waitoa brand, just takes the breath away. It is a magnificent property and it doesn’t take long for even the untrained eye to realise why.
Built on a greenfield site surrounded by lush paddocks growing maize and soybean, magnificent mountains are the perfect backdrop for the well planned and constructed sheds.
The 270 sqm sheds have been laid out for easy access with a circular hard surface turnaround area for service vehicles at the end of each shed.
The wire and post fencing around the spacious range area has the wires closer together at the base of the fence and this keeps the birds safe in their paddocks.
The Bay of Plenty area, apart from having an ideal climate, is free of predators but Matt has installed CCT camera monitoring on his sheds.
“We don’t want to become a tourist attraction,” he explained.
Inside the sheds, SKOV’s advanced climate/production DOL 539 CT controller operates with the DOL 278 M emergency shed opening system; the free range ‘pop holes’ are automatically controlled.
A simple latch incorporated into the pop hole winch system, takes the strain off cables as the doors are held in a ‘part open mode’.
The SKOV Farm Online DOL 2400 GSM management and reporting system relays all critical shed function information to the admin office.
Ventilation is achieved through four DA 17900-7 on/off main fans in the end walls and 12 DA 600 controllable chimney fans.
One hundred and forty DA mini vents are incorporated into the shed walls – this design delivers almost infinite climate control that can cope with all weather systems in the region.
Though the Bay of Plenty region is well known for a moderate climate it can get warm in summer and was around 28 degrees on the day we visited.
Eleven LPV chill units distribute the cool air evenly through the shed and for the odd days of high temperatures there is a DA 2000 high pressure fogging system.
“We let the birds range from about 15 days of age when they are fully feathered,” Dave said.
“They are kept in at night in the cooler weather but in the summer months when the weather is suitable we leave the pop holes partially open.
The plentiful rain that so suits cropping is the only summer limit to ranging.
The performance of the birds, mostly Ross 308 but sometimes Cobb 500 from Bromley Park, is spectacular for a free range operation. FCR is around 1.5: 1 and there are very low mortality levels.
Flocks are thinned at day 31 and the rest taken to around 42 days.
“Free range is growing in popularity both in domestic and some export markets,” Dave explained.
New Zealand’s chicken meat consumption per person per annum at just over 43 kg pp pa is slightly behind Australia (48 pp pa) but catching up, as in Australia, red meat and seafood is a more expensive protein option.
SKOV’s fully automatic blow heaters provide quick and efficient heating to suit bird growth and drying out after cleaning.
Fabricated from stainless steel, they are designed to give long service in the often aggressive shed environment – they can also tolerate high pressure cleaning.
Dave explained that the original design for the sheds only included three heaters as that was adequate for the 2700 sqm inside shed volume, however, they found that by using four heaters they got better gas use efficiency overall.
Kiwis are an innovative lot. With a small population located at the far end of the world, their industries, including agriculture, rely on ingenuity in both design and operation of technology that comes from vast distances away: adaption is the key.
Denmark, the home of SKOV, and New Zealand have much in common – a similar sized population (5million), economies heavily dependent on agriculture, and in particular, livestock industries.
They are both happy countries and Denmark has topped the global ‘Happiness Index’ more than once.
New Zealanders are a pretty laid back contented mob unless their beloved rugby team looses a match (a rarity) or the topic of Auckland’s terrible traffic arises.
In the 22/23 edition of the Australian Financial Review an article by Jemimya Whyte, ‘Chicken feed pecks at Ingham’s profits’ reported on the effect of drought and high feed cost in Australia on Ingham’s profits.
However, in the same report, the performance of Ingham’s New Zealand division was highlighted.
“Despite an export ban due to an isolated outbreak of Infectious Bursal Disease (virus Type 1) that applies to Australia and other key markets, the NZ division had managed to increase price growth,” the report revealed.
Discussing the AFR’s report details with Dave Mathews, Dave’s response was, “New Zealand is always the standout – the Golden Child”.
He is of course correct. New Zealand has all the advantages, a kind temperate climate, fertile soils, the availability of the best technology but above all a determination to be the best they can be as farmers.
Poultry Digest would like to thank Matt and Hannah Sutherland for showing us their magnificent farm and Dave Mathews from Real Air Solutions for taking the time to show us what Kiwi ingenuity is capable of when it comes to free range broiler bird production.
When Dave isn’t immersed in plans to create world class poultry farms he and his sons Joshua and Ben are involved with Midget Car racing.
This involves putting a very big V8 engine in a very small car and racing on dirt tracks – it’s a fast and furious activity!