Our Articles in Poultry World

Poultry World - On my farm - June2016

Aug 15, 2016

This month, Robert Lanning muses on farm innovations found at fairs and conferences through spring

I am writing this fresh back from the Pig & Poultry Fair at Stoneleigh. As always it was very well attended and full of enthusiasm. Walking around, there were lots of old ideas with “new paint” on, but among these I did notice there were a few new and exciting things on the market.

Particularly interesting this year was the biomass area. Having just sorted our IPPC permit on one of our farms for biomass, we have made the decision not to install a system but will instead use indirect gas heating, because of poorer returns on offer following the recent RHI reductions. That said, we are just completing a costing model to install a wood gasification and CHP Engine. If the figures add up we will be producing in excess of 50% of our own energy, but, just like the biomass it is very much grant dependant.

As chairman, I can report the South West Chicken Association Conference was a huge success, with record numbers to the pre-conference dinner and the conference. We had organised some fantastic speakers, in particular Susan Watkins who came over from the US to give a paper on water quality. Just when I thought we were doing enough, I realise we can do more. Now we are not using antibiotics, I want to flush the drinker lines regularly in the first week. The good news is apart from time there is no cost involved and I think this will help bring down our bacteria counts. I am sure drinker manufacturers could soon design an automated flushing system which would simplify this further.

All our chicks are now receiving a probiotic before leaving the hatchery, the reasons and principles are definitely correct. However, I am keen to see if the additional cost gives the required return in welfare and performance. By that I mean better gut health leading to better litter and reduced FCR.

It was fantastic to see the framework of our new buildings at Chaffcombe, Chard, on the front page of last month’s Poultry World. They are nearing completion with the concrete floors being poured at the end of May. We have gone for high insulation values and low energy use. It is the first time for us using LED lighting; the energy savings are certainly there, and installation costs are less. My biggest concern is that any savings will soon be lost if the reliability isn’t there.

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

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Photographs by www.rachelpalmer.co.uk