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Poultry World - On my farm - September 2016

Sep 28, 2016

Robert LanningThis month Robert Lanning considers the importance of maintaining equipment and that the poultry industry has a way to go before true public acceptance

I am sat writing this on a hot August day, listening to the background noise of fans rumbling in the office and a slight nervousness after a generator failed on test this morning from overheating. The machine is less than three years old and is fully maintained.

It certainly highlights the importance of our weekly two-hour test run. We all felt greatly relieved when an engineer’s van pulled in to the yard and his toolbox came out.

I await to find out the cause but I am pleased it has been dealt with quickly.

We are very relieved our two new broiler houses at Chaffcombe Farm are now finished. They were filled on 23 July and the birds are going through successfully.

Thankfully, at 31 days these new units are outperforming our two older sheds by about 61g/day, which reassures me new, quality buildings and equipment are the way forward.

Another notable difference is that, in the summer heat, the new buildings peak at 2C lower on hot days than the older sheds, which were built sometime in the 1980s.

I need to work out if this is a fan capacity shortage, a shed age issue or simply due to newer, better building materials and techniques.

On a totally different matter, I do feel the image of British poultry farming, with Open Farm Sunday and positive television programmes, is the best it has ever been.

That said, from recent experience it would appear we still have a long way to go. I was left feeling saddened when my two youngest children got off their rural school bus emotionally upset by verbal bullying from older children that their dad was cruel to chickens and they smelled bad. This was soon resolved with a few chocolate fingers and reassurance.

But it did make me stop and think, as it was the second incident in just a few weeks of people having preconceived ideas of what we do. Earlier this year my wife Jacqui approached a well-known local farming charity that works with children, offering to raise money for them by climbing the three largest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales in three days.

Her offer was turned down because of the perception of what we do. I feel what we are doing as a farming base is getting through, but there is still a lot of work needed to remove the preconceived image of what we do and how we do it.

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Photographs by www.rachelpalmer.co.uk