Our Articles in Poultry World

Poultry World - On my farm - March 2016

Aug 15, 2016

Robert Lanning, our correspondent in the south west, has had alivelytime, debating with vegetarians and expanding his business

Several weeks ago I received a telephone call from a friend and colleague, Andrew Maunder. He had been asked by the University of Exeter Debating Society to take part in a Friday evening debate, which was titled ‘The House turns Vegetarian’.

Andrew was there as a butcher and I was the farming representative. We were joined by animal rights charity Animal Aid and a nutritionist, who put the case together for the vegetarians. We had a student audience of 120.

After doing the introductions came the questions. Although I had rehearsed on welfare, I was surprised at the quality of questions on the environmental impact and water efficiencies of protein production. I felt confident with these; knowing that poultry scores well, we felt a wavering vegetarian would choose poultry in front of any other meat.

The conclusion I draw is that these educated young people, when they shop, will remember that chicken production is a sustainable, economic, nutritious and safe form of food production. Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening, and we increased our share of votes from the original cast – but we still lost.

Back on the farms it has been busy, but with generally good bird performance. The mild winter has helped to keep the energy bill down and has aided litter quality. We also seem to be controlling our coccidiosis problems, albeit with a regime of expensive coccidiosis chemicals, floor burning as well as the in-feed coccidiostat.

The schedule for our two new buildings on our farm at Chaffcombe, Chard, has had to change due to some groundworks problems, but these have now been overcome and we are back on track with a predicted fill date of early July 2016. As always, new square footage is exciting, but equally important is the upkeep of our older buildings.

We are aiming to do a major refurbishment on two of these older sheds during this year and early next year. I always view the buildings no differently to a piece of machinery; when it comes to maintenance, the skill is in knowing when the time has come.

I look forward to being chairman of the South West Chicken Association’s annual conference on 19 April. There is an excellent line-up of speakers with a wide variety of topics. It is free to everyone due to our kind sponsors. You just need to register; look to the events column on the next page for more information.

Devonshire Poultry comprises six farms in Devon, Dorsetand Somerset, growing 3.5 million chickens a year for a leading integrator.

View the pdf version here.

Photographs by www.rachelpalmer.co.uk