By Charles Bourns, poultry farmer
Every farmer I have met is complaining about ‘Veganuary’, maybe more where I live because Bristol is the vegan capital of the country, but one has to say what is the industry doing to counter it?
It is about time we had a really meaningful go at promoting our industry to the consumers at large, everyone is doing a little bit but I do not see it joined up and it must be. We have a tremendous story to tell on:
- Training – you have the New Apprenticeship Scheme linked to the Poultry Passport, the NFU’s Poultry Industry Programme, scholarships that different companies and the Worshipful Company of Poulters offer at Harper Adams University and now the new Poulters insight into the industry bursary to name but a few. Any other industry would be on the TV announcing this.
- Antibiotics – we lead the whole agricultural industry so why are we not promoting this? We do to ourselves but not the consumer.
- Climate change – the poultry industry leads the field with our very low carbon footprint in both eggs and poultry meat.
- Animal welfare – I believe we are the best in agriculture in all our systems because of the very tight margins we cannot afford any slip ups and our stockmanship and eye for detail is supreme.
My son has gone to New Zealand for a holiday so I have been desperately trying to get a good result out of the farm and by the time you read this I should know. It is my last solo crop after 32 years of growing chicken, about 30 million of them, I just hope my son who is coming into the industry has as much fun as I had and I will continue to have. My first crop result was 1.81kg at 42 days with an FCR 2.14:1. The crop cycle was 59 days, earning 51p/sq metre/wk.
In Europe I have just read the AVEC report and was staggered to see how much the Polish industry has expanded, it just shows if you have a supportive government what an industry can achieve although they are running into difficulties on labour, environment and welfare. There are two million Ukrainians working in Poland. We need labour but I think we will have to look further afield than Europe, Latvia have gone to China to meet its needs.
My final thought is based on my experience to date as administrator for a badger cull area. Thank goodness I am in the poultry industry, where we get on with whatever needs to be done. This is why we lead the field, and long may we continue to have this attitude!