Comment: How we’re making the most of students on the farm

By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, north Yorkshire

It is coming into the time of year that students are looking for summer jobs. We do not require harvest workers however, most summers we take on vet students. This comes about through word of mouth and being on the list at Liverpool University. This year we have two students coming for a month to complete their pig and poultry experience.

It is vital that farms take part in offering experience for people studying courses such as veterinary medicine as quite often students have had no or little previous poultry experience. We attempt to offer a good insight into what we do with the broiler breeders, as well as go to the hatchery to see the next stage. Some students in the past haven’t considering specialist livestock work until experiencing what the industry has to offer.

As both poultry and other agricultural industries are looking to attract more vets, farms should do their part to show what’s on offer. We need to explain the importance of vets in total farm performance, not just when there are problems, but how working with healthy flocks can optimise potential.

On farm the extra help is great especially as we gain an an extra pair of hands for the business at a time when employees take holidays; also we know we are doing our part in promoting the poultry sector.

Back on farm the birds are 27 weeks as I write this, we have just started saving the hatching eggs. Peak production for breeders is 29 weeks so we have two weeks to see if the get over 90%, just above the targets. We also await the first hatchability figures to come back from the hatchery; early hatch is often a sign of how well we have managed the males onto maturity through the rearing period.



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