By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, north Yorkshire
October has been a hectic month. The home unit has seen the breeders go from 22 weeks through to 26 weeks of age. For us, it is a ramp up in production from 5% to 80% over around two weeks, if we have got our feeding regime correct and everything goes well, they should steadily climb up to 90% production by the time they are 29 weeks old. Being bred for meat, we do not see as high a peak in production that laying hens achieve.
The sorting of the small eggs has been made easy with the installation of a second Prinzen packer and grader and it has been a success, with no more hand weighing thankfully. We discard the small eggs as the chicks from these are too small for the broiler industry.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a robot (yet) that can pick up floor eggs, with peaks of around 1,800 eggs on the floor, it is fair to say there is no need for a gym trip anytime soon, collecting them is always a good weight loss exercise.
As the floor eggs cannot be hatched due to contamination, the sooner these disappear the better, we should get down to around 1% within a few weeks and this will be much more manageable.
We have an excellent relationship with our feed company, ABN, whom we will have been dealing with for 60 continuous years next year. I’m a fan of good business relationships and we certainly have that.
Through ABN we have just taken on a Harper Adams placement student for three months – excellent timing with these floor eggs! We are giving him three months on-farm experience before he returns to ABN to complete the year.
This is a great opportunity for us, not only the extra pair of hands but to show someone an insight into the industry. He has experience of many aspects of agriculture but is not from a farming background, so it is great to see his enthusiasm to learn and get stuck in. Poultry is his favoured livestock, let’s hope he still feels the same when he has had a few more weeks. More of this kind of introduction into the industry would be fantastic to see.