Comment: lessons from Europe as Poultry Industry Programme concludes

By Matt Donald, Donald Pig & Poultry

We have birds at 24 weeks on the farm, which equals peak floor eggs – around 2,200 a day – so I thought I’d take a quick break to write this month’s piece!

October has brought an end to my year on the poultry industry programme (PIP). Our final event was a trip to Brussels followed by farm visits in Holland. We found out about the NFU’s role in Brussels, then visited Eurogroup for Animals. They are trying to push through further EU rules regards animal welfare, especially on poultry transit times, which may all be relevant to the UK in order for us to meet EU standards.

We headed to the European parliament building for a tour and a discussion with Stuart Agnew MEP, who being from a farming background had some interesting views on Brexit.

The following day was a trip into Holland seeing various laying systems, the Kipster system regarded as the highest welfare system in Holland. With viewing areas for the public, outdoor verandas for birds, a green energy focus, it is certainly amazing to see the concept.

This system would still only qualify as barn production in the UK, because although there is a small outdoor area the birds would not be classed as free range. Without some very good marketing and contracts in place, I fail to see how this could compete with British free range.

Being in Europe led to a lot of discussion within the group on Brexit. As a pig and poultry farmer there are so many ideas floating around on consequences of a ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’. Ultimately the best we as farmers can do is get on the farm and look to where we can cut costs or improve productivity and get in the top 20% of producers.

My time on PIP has been thoroughly enjoyable, I would recommend it to anyone young and considering a career in the poultry industry, to learn more and meet like-minded people was a great opportunity. My thanks go to all involved at the NFU and ABN for putting the programme together.

Now back to those floor eggs…

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