Comment: Preparing for autumn on the farm

By Matt Donald

Matt Donald is a farmer with Donald Pig & Poultry, from north Yorkshire

A busy month has come to an end, harvest is all in, with wheat yields better than expected. However, the high price that is rewarding for many is affecting feed prices. We chose to fix our feed price in June, through to next July: time will tell whether this was a wise move or not!

I spent two very informative days in Norfolk with the Poultry Industry Programme, looking at a broiler site and litter burner, great to see investment in new renewable technology! This was followed by an AD plant and Traditional Norfolk Poultry.

A morning at ABN’s Walsingham mill was of particular interest to me, learning about their new technology, Total Farm Performance, where monitoring a flock’s performance and making small adjustments can lead to increased efficiency, thus profit. It is great to see how technology is aiding businesses. The speed technology is moving makes for an interesting future.

Our older site is currently on turn around, being an all in all out unit. Mucking out, followed by two weeks of washing makes it a busy period. We get contractors Precision Cleaning to washdown as our time is spent moving equipment, and carrying out routine maintenance.

The sheds are steel, drinkers and feeders are suspended and this all saves time on washing. The Vencomatic nest system is stripped down, cleaned and put back together, at thirteen years old in two sheds it is lasting well and only little repairs are needed.

It is vital the cleaning procedure is done to a high standard, so we remove every nest mat to make this more possible. Once pieced together we carry out two wet disinfections and then fog the sheds with formalin, they are then swabbed to test the effectiveness before birds are placed. How long will we have formalin? I certainly hope until there is an effective alternative.

With the recent news of Newcastle Disease getting closer to the UK, it is a reminder that biosecurity is number one. Once disinfected we operate a double boot change, overalls on at entry and no vehicles on site except the feed delivery and egg collections. Daily performance monitoring would tell us if something was affecting the birds.

We are constantly learning ways to improve hygiene, for fertile eggs it is crucial to ensure good chick quality. Hygiene starts with our biosecurity at the perimeter of the units, the whole team knows, this should never be compromised.

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