British Pig &
Poultry Fair

15-16 May 2018
Stoneleigh
Warwickshire

British Pig & Poultry Fair

15-16 May 2018
Stoneleigh, Warwickshire

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Leading poultry producers value the Fair

The top UK poultry and egg producers will be making sure they make time to visit the 2018 Fair.

New technology, staffing and increasing margins are three key areas on which producers are focusing and that’s why keeping up to date is so important.

Investments have the potential to shape the future of a business, so it is vital to get advice and to network with fellow producers to make the right decision.

Melanie Jenkins speaks to two producers about their current investments and what they are most looking forward to at the Fair.

Roger Gent, senior partner at Beedon Common Farm, Berkshire. 21,000 layer unit on a mixed family farm with beef and arable enterprises. 

What was your last investment and what will you invest in next?

We put a biomass boiler in last year as we grow 40ha (100acres) of miscanthus. Our miscanthus contracts were unviable so we put the biomass in to the barn. We are putting up a new 16,000 bird multi ties shed this year and plan to pip the manure across to the boiler to dry it.

What is the most useful piece of technology on your farm and why?

The iPad as it connects all the poultry sheds and we can see what is going on everywhere. It also connects the tractors and manages data and yield monitoring – sending it all back to the office.

How do you see the outlook for your poultry business in 2018/2019? Any particular challenges or opportunities?

What will be the value of eggs in the market in the longer term? In the short term; Avian Influenza. There is a different strain every year but the bigger issue is to make it less attractive for wildlife, with no trees or puddles to discourage water fowl particularly. By the nature of the job, we are free range and only one person works in the shed, so the chance of them bringing AI in is slim but there is a threat from wildlife.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle for the UK poultry industry to overcome?

Brexit: We need to supply the whole of the UK egg market, both shell and liquid. We need a price structure in place so that surplus eggs can be broken and supply 100% of the liquid manufacturing market or as near as is possible. We need to lead as an industry and write a new code of practice with the Lion Code and put in place values for 2025 egg market, otherwise supermarkets will just tell us what they want. Free range was always a premium market, but without cages there is no cheaper egg and we could be priced out of the market.

How do you think poultry producers can plan for possible changes to labour rules post EU?

The Government needs to change the welfare state rules, so that if people are fit to work and it is a job they can do, they should do it to get benefits.

Will you be attending the 2018 Fair and why? Will you be looking for anything specific?

I do hope to attend the Fair. I want to find a solution to our Freedom Foods issue of having to install raised perching into our flat deck sheds with an open feeder system.

What would you say is the most valuable aspect of the Fair for you?

The main thing is interacting with fellow producers, either in forums or in the avenues. It is the exchange of ideas as we are constantly working on more than one answer to solve various problems. I hope to pick up ideas there

If you had one wish for your business what would it be?

Across the whole business would be to cut the red tape. Join up all accreditations and audits as we spend far too much time in offices.

 

Tom Wornham, partner at Lye End Farm, Hertfordshire. 210,000 bird broiler grower unit. 

What was your last investment and what will you invest in next?

Some shavings! We’ve not invested a great deal for three to four years as we invested in renewables then. The next investment will be replacing fluorescent lighting with LEDs. We have been looking at this for the past year and have tried different products. Fluorescents do go wrong and have a life expectancy which but while they keep working, we keep using them. Technology keeps changing and getting cheaper – I don’t want to spend £200,000 and in a year see something better. When I we see something we like, we will buy it.

What is the most useful piece of technology on your farm and why?

My brain really! It is nice to have a computer that controls everything which our Rotem computer system does – it is always about saving time.

How do you see the outlook for your poultry business in 2018/2019? Any particular challenges or opportunities?

I think it will continue the same as it is now as people will still be eating chicken.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle for the UK poultry industry to overcome?

Labour is the biggest problem. As a small producer it does not make a difference to me but all large producers rely on labour.

Are you concerned that the vegetarian/ vegan trend will affect the sector? What impact do you think it could have on the poultry industry?

I don’t think people pay any attention to it but it is an issue that needs to be considered and not brushed aside as a fad. It is here to stay and can be intimidating, but as long as you are a conscientious producer the cruelty debate will remain subjective.

Will you be attending the 2018 Fair and why? Will you be looking for anything specific?

I will be going as an NFU poultry board member. I will be there as support on the stand and to meet my supplier. It will be or the political side with my NFU hat on.

What would you say is the most valuable aspect of the Fair for you?

The discussion groups and talks. The industry outlook is what I like.

If you had one wish for your business what would it be?

A better return for my investment.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

To write down my dreams as the business gets in the way. I would say that as a teenager I should write down what I dream to be and to get more involved with the arts.