By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, North Yorkshire
Demand for poultry appears to remain strong, with the hope of the COVID-19 pandemic starting to ease off and a little ‘normality’ returning, it will be great to see restaurants opening up and some wholesale demand from the hospitality industry, not only because I’m ready to eat out of our own kitchen! But also to help maintain a positive outlook for the chicken meat sector.
The pig side of the business is starting to see some encouraging movements in price, following a sharp drop from previous levels last year. Although it is hard to tell to what extent, there are reports that China is still struggling with African Swine Fever, this in turn could keep up global demand for protein from China. However high levels of biosecurity must be maintained to keep it out of this country and prevent a catastrophe, if it was to enter the British pig herd.
We have a new flock of broiler breeders on farm, they came in in good condition and have been ready to bring into lay on time, from 21 weeks we start to see a handful of eggs being laid however it won’t be until 24 weeks of age that we can start saving these for hatching. At which stage we will grade out the double yolks and the small ones, in order to achieve an even chick quality once they are hatched.
This stage of the flock gives the staff a month to relax a little, although feeding is a critical time and attention to detail is needed in order to ensure an even spread is critical to get results, the birds are fed within an hour on a morning. After a busy mucking out period everyone gets the chance for some much needed downtime, to recharge before peak production sets in. The ability to go away being restricted for most of the last 12 months, means some eagerness to grab a few days away when possible, myself included! These days are essential to everyone, in order for people to get the best out of people.