By Charles Bourns, broiler producer, Gloucestershire
It was great to attend the National Egg & Poultry awards ceremony in October and catch up with so many people after the last two years of lockdown.
It is also good to hear that others are suffering from the same problems as I am, although it does not solve the problems but it is of some comfort. One of which is the rising cost of production, which I am glad to see 2 Sisters’ founder Ranjit Singh Boparan speaking out about, but why does no one else support him more publicly? Maybe it is because Ranjit is an owner and most of the others large processors belong to multinational owners run by salaried staff so they are not feeling the pain?
The other problem we have encountered in one shed is the birds going off their legs. As you may know, we use an IWS water system and the water has been tested and it is absolutely clean so I can discount that at least. The other reason I have been given that might have caused a problem is brooding at too hot a temperature, so I will look at this next time, although I have done no different for years but I know birds do change. I run the shed at 33c when they come in a with the floor temperature at 31c. A partner of mine was told she should be able to sit on the shavings and feel warm: that’s probably why she left! Anyway, we will see if it improves next time.
Next time I will be half house brooding in one house and see how that goes. Our house 1 always uses more gas as it catches all the weather and we are on the top of the hill.
I was very disappointed that the new welfare payments will not be available to all poultry farms, and is only available to farms that have BPS payments and of those only 26% qualify. Yet again the standalone poultry unit is being discriminated against. It seems totally wrong to me. Why give more money to those who already receive monies? Surely it should be the other way around. In other parts of the EU farms receive payments, eg in Ireland they have an 80,000 euro refurbishment grant, which is very useful as sales of the Enhanced Welfare Chicken seem at long last to be moving forward with I am told orders being placed for September next year as Marks and Spencer promised.
I do have one question. How do we as farmers get the prices to pay for our increased costs?
We keep producing. We cannot switch off. So, we cannot hold a gun barrel to the Government’s head unlike other industries. I have heard of some lorry drivers receiving pay rises of 18%. I have worked out we will require an increase of 9p per kg by the end of our crop that will be housed at the end of December. Any suggestions let me know!
I look forward to seeing some of you at the SWCA Christmas dinner.