By Charles Bourns, broiler grower, Gloucestershire
If the situation in the industry and the country was not so serious, it would be farcical. The damage that has been done in the last month to most businesses with the rise in interest rates with little hope of getting them back from the market is awful.
Then of course there is AI. There seems to have been no lessons learnt from last year and yet again the birds have been left out too long in my opinion, which has allowed this very contagious strain of AI to run amok.
I know biosecurity can help control it but 44% of cases have been on small mixed species farms. Somehow this type of farm must be discouraged.
I just hope that the discussions now taking place will have two outcomes: the first is proper compensation. Mortality is extremely high in turkey flocks in particular, and compensation is currently only paid on live birds that have to be culled. It is so important if we want a turkey and duck industry going forward that they are compensated properly for their losses.
Secondly, we need a speeding up of the introduction of a vaccine. They are being trialled in Europe if successful they could be available in two years’ time, but I believe with political will this could be shortened as was the case with covid. I know there are trade issues but if we do not have an industry does it matter? Please can I ask that you see your MP and tell them in words (possibly just one syllable long) just how serious the above is. I for one am finding the situation difficult. Just the thought of AI terrifies me.
At home the farm is going reasonably well the first shed of Redbro are growing well. They certainly drink more water than the JA87. We will have to see what the FCR and other KPIs are but I do thank my lucky stars that the farm is where it is and not in Norfolk where AI is particularly bad.
I will confess I have found it difficult to write this piece as the news everywhere is in general bad, but I did hear one piece of good news and that is the sales of the plant-based products are not doing very well at the moment.
I have just recently become a trustee of the Fishmongers and Poulters Institution. The organisation was set up to help those who were involved in the industries and are now finding life difficult financially. It offers grants to help people through this problem so please if you know of anyone who is in this position put them in touch. I would also like to promote the Poulters Charitable Trust that has a small amount of money to give to someone who wishes to do an educational project that will help their career, so again, please get in touch.
Lastly, as some know I am dyslexic so do not read many books, but I have been enjoying a book by Sally Coulthard called Fowl Play. It is a history of the chicken from the era of dinosaurs up to the present day. It is fascinating.
Anyway, I just hope that by next month things will have improved and industry lobbying has borne fruit for all concerned. I know it will not be for lack of effort and I would like to thank all at the NFU for their tireless work, including Minette.