2015-12-11   facebook twitter rss

Poultry Producer Tops Performance Tables

A Shropshire chicken farmer has become the biggest ever to join Aviagen’s coveted “400 Club” which recognises the highest performing broiler producers in the country.

Charlie Simpson, who farms at Lower Heath Farm, Whitchurch, Shropshire, averaged a European Production Efficiency Factor (EPEF) of 405 in his latest crop of birds, putting him among the crème de la crème of poultry producers.

Charlie Simpson

Charlie Simpson

Having worked closely with St David’s Poultry Team to improve bird health over the past three years, he has slashed his antibiotic usage by 70-80%, and is now reaping the rewards of high growth rates, good feed conversion and low mortality – the three key elements behind the EPEF formula.

“I changed to St David’s Poultry Team in 2012 when it was clear I needed a more hands-on veterinary service,” says Mr Simpson, who rears 542,000 birds per crop. “We had a clinical Gumboro problem, and realised the vaccines weren’t being administered properly.”

St David’s vet Suzy Ackerley suggested feeding Salivet – a natural anti-inflammatory – at about three weeks of age to support the birds’ intestinal health. “At this time the birds are undergoing a feed change, being vaccinated against Gumboro disease and also going through their optimum growth phase,” she says. “Unfortunately, this combination means intestinal health can suffer; Salivet helps to support the birds during this critical period. We trialled it on six of the 15 houses and the performance benefits mean we’ve now rolled it out across the whole site.”

Another change was to improve the water sanitisation and add acids to optimise intestinal health, using an LMS automated dosing system. “Hygiene is very important, but water hygiene is often overlooked,” says Mr Simpson. “There’s no doubt that the industry is pushing for a reduction in antibiotic usage and we’re keen to get on with it. It’s all about prevention rather than cure.”

Glenn Bushell from Aviagen says that achieving a 405 EPEF is an exceptional achievement. “It is a combination of great chick quality, feed and management of the birds. What makes Charlie’s achievement even more special is the sheer size of the number of birds placed. The average chick placement for the 400 Club members is 150,000, Charlie placed 541,430 chicks which is the greatest number to average a 400 EPEF or more.”

Having worked to improve performance for a number of years, Mr Simpson says he is delighted to have joined the elite 400 Club. “When you have 15 sheds reaching such a high average is difficult because you usually have a shed or two with sub-average chicks or other limitations. It’s been a long time coming – I’m just very proud to have got there.”

St Davids Poultry Team

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