By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, north Yorkshire
The recent heatwave (yes even in the North) has meant the poultry houses have got fairly warm, fortunately all ventilation is in full working order thanks to a good clean down and check at each turnaround. Given we only deplete once every 11 months, it is vital any maintenance is carried out then, otherwise anything that gets missed could be out of action for a year.
Keeping the birds cool is critical, but as are the hatching eggs in the store, given that shed temperatures get up to 30 degrees, we need to remove the eggs off the system and store them at 18 degrees until collection. An air-conditioned unit keeps them at 18 this time of year, we also run the egg belts two to three times a day to ensure the eggs are out of the heat as soon as possible. Because we don’t do our last run until mid afternoon, it means very few eggs remain in the sheds overnight, this in turn should aid chick quality.
Keeping people cool is also as crucial, these extremely hot days make work inside the sheds rather hard. Fortunately, the majority of any floor eggs will be collected by 10.30am, which is well before the sheds reach their highest temperature.
Perhaps as these prolonged hot spells appear to becoming more frequent, is it time to look at cooling systems for breeders? Given how few weeks in the year we see such high temperatures, I feel it isn’t quite justified yet, however if this is global warming and it’s here to stay, it needs to remain in our minds.
We are now seeing pressure on the pig side of the business with significantly reduced abattoir capacity due to staff. I highlighted it in my last article, however the problem is worsening fast and I don’t hold much optimism for an answer in the near future.