By Matt Donald, pig and poultry farmer, North Yorkshire
I am both a believer and embracer of technology, however it does lead me to question how farming can benefit from the internet as time moves on. I can remember (just!) as the internet entered people’s homes, slow dial up speeds and limited websites available. Now there are over 3.3 billion people using it.
Specifically, in our poultry operation we use the internet for remote monitoring of poultry units, alarms, data collection and comparison. It has enabled us to control multiple sites and view what is happening in the shed at the opening of an app.
Data collection and cloud storage is a fantastic tool, however every single day 30,000 websites are hacked globally. Therefore, we must be cautious of what data we wish to make available online, we do not want for any of this data to be another tool in the fight against large poultry units, whether it be mortality rates, growth rates or simply just numbers.
I’m a relatively new member of Twitter but have been on Facebook a good few years. It is estimated there are 2.3 billion people using Facebook worldwide. All are potential consumers of our products. In the UK it is approximately half of the population. My gripe with social media is fake news and images – a case in point is ‘Veganuary’, which has passed, thank goodness! However, in that time we saw so many images and fake stories of farming, some of which were from outside the UK. The internet has meant these stories are readily available, without anyone editing and checking the content.
Surely now it is our turn to seize the opportunity of using the internet to paint a positive image of poultry farming. Many farms already do so. Could we go as far as getting celebrity chefs on board to promote British chicken? I hope the celebrity campaign on medium eggs is an effective one. We have a great story to tell, one which we should not be afraid of spreading.