Our Articles in Poultry World

Poultry World - On my farm - Feb 2015

Feb 23, 2015

In the first of a new series featuring our readers’ farms, Robert Lanning introduces Devonshire Poultry, run in conjunction with his wife Jacqui.

I am a first-generation farmer who has had an interest in poultry since the age of seven. One of my childhood memories is of visiting the Devon County Show with my parents and spending time in the poultry tent looking at the chickens.
Soon after, I was given three bantam chickens – my older brother already had a horse, so there wasn’t much room for bigger livestock.
The fact these bantams were killed by a fox did not deter me and over the next 10 years I expanded to owning 200 laying hens, selling the
eggs off the back of a bicycle.
From these humble beginnings, I started working in the poultry sector, eventually getting my own place and setting up Devonshire Poultry, which has been producing broilers in the South West since 1991.
The business operates over six farms, of which five produce standard broiler chickens to Red Tractor standards and the other one grows Freedom Food broiler chickens.

All chickens are grown indoors and have a 49-day cycle (seven crops a year), with the exception of the slower-growing Freedom Food birds, which have a 61-day cycle.
Devonshire Poultry now grows in excess of 500,000 birds a crop and is still looking to expand further through acquisition and growth at our existing farms.

I’ve seen a lot of changes in the broiler industry over recent years and we have also invested to stay ahead in our field. Last year we
completed a major refurbishment on one of our 27-year-old sheds at the home farm, Little Westcott.

Technology has without a doubt moved on and we are now benefitting from the new equipment installed. However, more work is in the pipeline as part of the roof blew off one of the other sheds in the high winds in January.

Like many other farmers, I’ve installed a biomass heating system consisting of three woodchip boilers. We haven’t rolled this out to all farms yet, but are pleased with its performance so far.

But who could have predicted gas prices falling to a five-year low? It’s a good job biomass comes with RHI, otherwise we would be turning the gas boilers back on.

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

Click to view - February 2015

Photographs by www.rachelpalmer.co.uk