By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, north Yorkshire
Firstly, I hope you have managed to get a few days relaxing with families and friends over the festive period, it is key to get time away from work in order to switch off, even if not for long. I always feel the first month of the year is a fresh start, time to leave 2021 behind us, no more volatility, labour problems, spiralling costs in every aspect of the business and avian influenza to name a few.
Unfortunately, I feel a New Year won’t be the answer to all of the industries challenges. Currently as I write this, our biggest threat is Avian Influenza, it appears to be worse than ever and is making a large impact in North Yorkshire. The whole team is doing everything we can for biosecurity and we are going through drums of disinfectant faster than ever before, double disinfecting all vehicles going onto the poultry units.
The constant worry of falling into a protection zone, creating problems with moving hatching eggs or birds is always on our minds. We were impacted when we needed licenses to move our hatching eggs into the zone, this initially delayed transport of some fertile eggs, our stores were overflowing and we found ourselves leaving full trollies in the corridor, not ideal when fertile eggs need careful temperature control. To us this is a minor thing, compared with a positive AI result and thoughts go to those livelihoods and businesses affected.
We are in the process of turning a farm around, we have kept most of the poultry litter to spread on growing crops away from the farm in the Spring, using a local contractor who can spread the litter up to 24m. Following a trial last year, it proved to be a very cost efficient fertiliser that we could spread evenly, without striping the crop, but it requires dry conditions! Given current fertiliser prices, the value of the poultry litter we sell is on the increase. We have to keep an eye on the ludicrous farming rules for water legislation, and I hope Spring does not become our only option in the future.