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Organic Poultry Producers Focus on Feed Sourcing

by 5m Editor
19 July 2011, at 8:46am

WALES, UK - Organic poultry producers have been finding out how to grow cereals to make their own feed.

The high cost of feed remains the biggest problem facing organic and free-range poultry producers in Wales, according to researchers.

So Aberystwyth-based Organic Centre Wales wants to help producers to grow more of the ration on the farm, reports Daily Post.

The centre hosted an event on Friday to bring together producers and researchers from IBERS and a poultry nutritionist, to look at some of the latest developments in this area.

The programme considered varieties of oats and other cereals that are particularly suitable for poultry feed.

It examined the potential of various protein crops including peas, beans, lupins and lucerne (alfalfa).

And it looked at more novel approaches to the issue, including enhancing the range with cover crops to supplement the birds’ diet.

Tony Little, the event organiser at Organic Centre Wales, said: "This is a very timely event. Organic poultry feed will get more expensive as the derogation to use up to five per cent of non-organic ingredients is removed at the end of this year.

"And organic soya is getting harder and harder to source. We need to move towards a more resilient and more sustainable way of producing poultry meat and eggs, and growing your own feed – or at least sourcing it more locally – has a major role to play."

Speakers included the nutritionist, Cliff Nixey, and Michael Lee and Sandy Cowan from IBERS.

The afternoon session included a visit to Nantclyd Organics near Llanilar, where Liz Findlay grows oats and peas for her laying flock.

She sources the remainder of her cereal requirements from Welsh organic arable producers. She has also grown cover crops on the range for the first time this year.

Nantclyd is a small family-run holding which lies above the Ystwyth valley close to Aberystwyth on the West Wales coast. It has been a Soil Association organic holding since 1989 and the farm totals 30 acres, including woodland and wetland areas.

Ms Findlay told Daily Post: "Nantclyd supports a large diversity of flora and fauna. The fields are small and have large hedgerows supporting a range of wildlife.

"The enterprises on the farm include egg production and poultry, seasonal vegetables and soft fruit, along with a flock of pedigree Poll Dorset ewes.

"The breed of hens we have are Bovan Nera, Silver and Brown Nicks all are good strong hardy breeds that love to range. The day-old chicks start life under a brooder and once well-feathered in the spring they have access to pasture. The hens are kept in small flocks of 200 birds with freedom to roam pasture and hedges from dawn to dusk all year round."

Organic Market Report by the Soil Association shows positive signs of resilience and recovery for the organic sector this year.