Comment: The farm has taken a battering and our roof has been ripped off

By Charles Bourns, broiler grower and chair of poultry & eggs working group, Copa Cogeca

Well what a month! As I write the farm is taking another battering from the wind. The refurbished sheds have stood up to the weather well, but the old shed has not fared so well with yours truly being woken up at 2.00am with the sound of an almighty crash. A third of the roof had been ripped off and blown all over with some propelled into a 30-foot high tree. Luckily the sheets that went over missed my neighbour’s car.

Anyway, thanks to the speedy reply from the NFU we had the roof fixed in time to stop further damage by storm Dennis. Let’s hope by the time you read this the weather might have improved. I know my problems are nothing compared with those of a great number of the rest of you, what with low path AI rearing its ugly head, no doubt caused partly by the weather. We have been inundated by gulls flying above the farm; not good as they carry so many zoonotic diseases.

I am secretary to the Worshipful Company of Poulters’ Charitable Trust and our chairman is Paul Kelly. We have a small income to give to various projects in the industry and beyond. The trust used to give grants to individuals in the industry to help further their careers, but no one seems to want these any more, so we support a final year student at Harper Adams. The top student is judged by Poultec and we also give out a few other small grants including the NFU Top PIP person.

To try and promote the poultry industry to young people through different channels, the trustees have now decided to launch a ‘Student Taster Week’ through the top agricultural universities. We are going to sponsor four students who will spend a week shadowing the chief executives of poultry businesses fully paid for by the charity in the hope that they will decide on the poultry industry as a future career and be so inspired that they will tell their fellow students and inspire them. It’s probably an opportune time to do this after the Government decision on the future of migrant labour.

As you will know from my ramblings in past columns, I have been thinking of refurbishing my last old shed. At present it has no chicken in it. I have just had it all costed up, but I have spoken to Gary Ford and have seen a list of the things that Defra will offer a grant on starting in 2021. The list includes such things as windows and lights, which could well save me a great deal of money. The grants they are offering are up to 60% of the cost of the item, and all items they believe will have an environmental or welfare benefit. Speaking of welfare, we will be having the Better Chicken Commitment chicken growing on the farm next crop after a few false dawns!

This month I heard I kept my position with Copa Cogeca until December 2020 and I am off to see the Commission about the cage ban in Europe, avian influenza policy. I will be speaking to them to suggest low path AI should also be compensated for to stop farmers being tempted not to report it.


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