By Charles Bourns, broiler producer, Gloucestershire
This month has gone really quickly and I have had the enjoyable task of talking to farmers and businesses that have entered Poultry Business’s awards. It is always an inspirational experience, as well as depressing in some ways, because you see what is possible while also observing what I am losing by not achieving the entrants’ figures, whether it be two chicks per breeder higher, lower mortalities, or – something that is very important right now – lower FCR.
Aviagen has raised the bar by upping the entry point into their awards from 420 to 440, and all our grower finalists have attained this new standard.
This month there was due to be an NFU management meeting for Gloucestershire, but it was cancelled, I believe because most farmers are happy with their lot and can afford the higher input costs thanks to price rises. This is true for all commodities with the exception of eggs and poultrymeat. Even dairy prices are rising, firstly because there is competition between the suppliers and farmers are moving contracts, secondly as it is more difficult to import liquid milk, and lastly because there will be a milk shortage. This is not true of eggs and poultrymeat, where if there is a shortage the retailers and others will import to make sure they are not short. And the imports will go into further processed products where the consumer will not see it! This is something we need to point out to our MPs over the show season, and the NFU is and will be arranging meetings over the summer.
At home, we will be getting the farm ready to become an official Marks & Spencer supplier. The main change is that we are having to install cameras in our chicken houses and feed room to capture on screen anyone who enters. M&S is launching its new higher-welfare chicken and it will be interesting to see how it sells.
Last night I went round to an ice cream manufacturer who uses his own milk in the ice cream. It was very interesting and also again demonstrated how much capital – both human and financial – they have had to invest to keep their products up to date. The most expensive ice cream was Dog Scoop, which is an ice cream for dogs. I know years ago the New Zealand egg industry ran a campaign to try to get dog owners to not only have an egg a day, but also feed their dogs an egg a day.