Well, we have a mixed report from our mixed farm this month.
There are plenty of positives. The new birds are all moved into the new farm we’ve taken on and they’re up to full production levels now. Excitingly we produced over one million eggs in a week for the first time ever in January, so that side of the business is full steam ahead.
We’ve managed to sell 120 of our bulling heifers privately and we only have 16 left now. Selling direct from farm to farm keeps our health status high and means we save on commission. Selling early and also buying early is a positive right now because the feed price is so high.
To keep prices down we’ve been exploring other options in our poultry diets. We’ve worked out that by using an amino acid and an enzyme, we can break down barley further, which will save us a huge sum of money, even though the enzyme itself is quite expensive. The price of wheat has rocketed and soya is particularly expensive so by using this enzyme and barley we will save ourselves £56,000 between now and August.
Ultimately our goal is to produce more of our protein requirement ourselves. Our spring bean seed Fuego has been delivered so we will be putting that on 11 acres and also trialling some winter beans depending on how the spring beans come on. This will displace our requirement for bought-in protein.
The usual winter jobs such as cleaning ditches and fixing drains have been occupying some of our time, but our spirits were lifted by the final payment for the path we finished last year arriving in our bank account. It hadn’t been processed because of Covid and staff being furloughed, so it was a pleasant surprise when it turned up!
Unfortunately, this isn't the only negative way the pandemic has impacted our business. The pig side of the farm is a nightmare right now. Our local abattoir was shut down for a fortnight and they were 5,000 pigs behind schedule at that point. Excess pigs coming up from England meant there was a bottleneck for Scottish pigs and the backlog started to pile up. All pig producers are having to hold onto extra pigs, which is very difficult because of their size and needing to sustain their weight.
The two-week shutdown could cause a backlog of as many as 12,000 pigs.
So, as usual, there are ups and downs in our business. But overall we feel we are continuing to move in the right direction.
· Farming in Aberdeenshire
· 202 ha farm
· 148,000 free range and enriched colony laying hens
· 190 bulling heifers
· 2,000 pigs weaned to finish