By Charles Bourns, broiler grower, Gloucestershire
Before I write this article I always ring around a few farmers for a chat. Sadly this month, I could not find many positive steers from others. It’s not surprising as we are under attack on all fronts, firstly from disease which is a complete tragedy for those who get it, insured or not, as well as utility prices, packaging costs and as yet very little in the way of a price rise.
So, firstly as I have written about previously, we have tried half house brooding. Well, it has gone well, reducing the amount of electric used. Gas usage is also down 3,000 litres on the other house, so I think next time we will do both houses. Mortality has not been affected and as I write weights are the same in both houses at 37 days with 12 days to go.
We did have a couple of problems. One was the positioning of the thermostat and secondly the calling in pans when the other end was opened up at 19 days, but these are minor.
As usual I attended a couple of conferences in Brussels and a couple of speakers struck a chord with me. The first said we must spend more time discussing and pointing out the costs and benefits of our product, why we do what we do and why this is important to them as well as us.
The second speaker pointed out that everything starts with food so we are vital to the world’s future. The point is that we are allowing the NGOs march all over us. We must join forces and fight back.
I was very disappointed to read that AHDB had withdrawn funds from Red Tractor. I just hope the industry will make this up because the forces lined up against meat consumption are well funded. At one of the Brussels conferences there was some good news for poultry as everyone agreed poultrymeat consumption would continue to increase along with sheep and goat meat, while the rest would decline.
Milk production will grow but cow numbers will decline as yields will go up, and this apparently will reduce emissions by 1.2% from agriculture.
We were also told to look for export markets that whilst the European population will decrease 0.8% over the next 10 years Africa will increase 25% so this was seen as a positive for exports and these will composite for lower demand in the home markets.
So while we are at present going through a very turbulent time we will come through it and I believe the future looks good so here’s hoping for a positive 2022. I will repeat what I said at the end of my last month’s piece: if the retailers really want British products on the shelf, they have to pay the right price. If you put nothing in in the end you get nothing out. Everyone is talking about it. The NFU are trying their hardest, but the time for talking is over.