By Charles Bourns, broiler grower, Gloucestershire
What a year 2022 has been! It is difficult to think back to a time pre–avian influenza.
At this point I would like to thank the NFU, both here, and in Brussels, as they have worked tirelessly to improve the situation on compensation, clean out and also trying to gain clarity on restocking, so we can grow turkeys for Christmas next year, which is absolutely vital.
Obviously let’s hope this work is successful, along with the judicial review which the NFU legal team department have agreed to back.
So, for those who wonder why join the NFU, it should now be a no brainer.
Going forward, we have a number of issues we all need to make our voices heard. One is the cost of production, especially now interest rates are rising, and another is the new transport regulations, which during a cold snap would virtually stop the chicken industry. There are plenty more than I’m sure others will mention.
On the farm, it is the end of our two-year Climate Change Levy period, the first growing high welfare chicken.
In 2022, we have half house brooded our chicks due to the higher energy costs, brooding the birds for the first couple of weeks of the crop, before opening up the whole shed, depending on the birds and the current weather.
Compared to 2021, we have seen a significant reduction in our gas usage, almost half, and our electric usage was also down by around 10,000kw.
Our production in kilos over two years has been the same as over year when growing standard birds. I hope we will just about scrape through this time, as the discount on the levy saves the business around £1,100 per annum. Our water consumption per kilo was 0.2 litres, with less rejects, and lower podo and hock.
Looking forward in 2023, I hope the industry’s common-sense approach will prevail with Defra on solutions to avian influenza and new regulations.
I also hope the retailers realise they must have profitable farmers to secure product for their shelves, and not keep running abroad for the products, as I questions its availability if avian influenza jumps the Andes, and Amazon Rainforest. After all, it jumped the Atlantic.
We have just had our Red Tractor audit, and I did have a non-compliance as my first aid certificate had run out.
I know it is now being discussed, but I question whether I need another audit in nine months, when you have in mind that we also have a vet visit every crop, plus a RSPCA audit again. Surely common sense must prevail with economic considerations?
So, here’s to a dynamic 2023, the overcoming of avian influenza, so we as an industry can continue onwards and upwards to supply the customer with a tremendous, value for money, healthy food – both meat and eggs. A happy prosperous New Year to you all.