Our Articles in Poultry World

Poultry World - On my farm - May 2015

May 25, 2015

Our columnist from the South West muses on the value of offering staff specific training beyond that required by regulation.

What a fantastic start to the spring we have had. It has been dry, not humid, and at times unseasonably warm – great broiler growing weather.

Over the past few years we have made sure staff regularly attended courses such as health and safety, rat baiting etc. But it recently struck me we had never run poultry-specific training solely for our business.

It had always been with other groups and typically on the more generic courses to comply with the audit standards.

So, along with our vets, we have written and developed four training sessions. The first was on the much talked about pododermatitis. A lot
has come out of this session and I am being told that podo can be reduced by cutting back on good quality bedding. A case where “less
is more”.

As a result, for the first time, along with a roll-out programme of new drinkers, we are beginning to win the battle.

Our staff are now knowledgeable, motivated and investing time in monitoring flow rates. It is the intention to achieve a flow rate of
20ml plus bird age. This sounds easy until you get sloping floors.

However, we have dried up the litter under drinking lines considerably. We now have great expectations for our remaining three courses:
“Recognising Diseases”, “Why Vaccinate?” and “Rejects”.

Devonshire Poultry turned international this month. I was invited on a trip to Denmark, primarily to look at ventilation.
Any opportunity to see how others do things gives me a great chance to open my eyes and develop our business further.

I thought modern UK farms were something to aspire to, but the standard I saw in Denmark put both biosecurity and build quality on a different level.
All the sheds had brick-built offices attached to them. And they were of a standard any farm secretary would be happy to work in.
Interestingly, the farms I saw did not rely on windows, bales, perches and pecking objects to enhance welfare. The focus was on stockmanship that was second-to-none, high build quality and perhaps lower stocking rates to give one of the best displays of broilers I have ever seen.
My wife Jacqui has also done a first for Devonshire Poultry organising what we grandly refer to as our “mini conference”.
A speaker from Aviagen gave a talk on achieving the 400 EPEF, along with a free lunch and a free bag of goodies, which I am hoping will engage and further motivate.

This is a start, but the aim is to involve all our key partners in future.

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

View the pdf version - May 2015

Photographs by www.rachelpalmer.co.uk