With more than 230 companies exhibiting at the British Pig and Poultry Fair together with a packed seminar and workshop programme, there is plenty of opportunity to shop about for equipment or advice.

But with so much on offer, planning your time will be essential in ensuring you see everything on your list. To help you out, here are our five top tips on what to do at the event.

(1) Join the feed debate and other forums

Soaring feed prices are weighing on every poultry producers’ bottom line – and the Great Feed Debate brings together processors and retailers to examine how the whole supply chain can work together to address this problem.

Speakers from Cranswick, ABN, Waitrose and PD Hook will discuss how the industry can improve efficiencies and add value to improve margins.

Other forums include IPPC – What to do now you have your permit. Nigel Joice, who keeps 800,000 broilers at Uphouse Farm, Fakenham, Norfolk, is really looking forward to the show and its seminars. “I’m hoping to go to some of the workshops relating to very relevant issues, like IPPC, in the industry at the moment. And if we haven’t got some indication of a price rise from retailers before the show we will be making quite a song and dance about that.”

(2) Attend a workshop

The issues affecting poultry producers are continually changing – so the Fair is holding a number of practical workshops to bring you the latest news.

Topics include Planning permission Farm health planning and Profiting from organic manures. Patrick Bourns, who farms 14,000 free-range organic laying hens at Barrington Park Estate, Oxon, will also be speaking on New opportunities in the poultry sector, at 1pm on both days.

“I think there are opportunities to do something special, particularly in the smaller sector,” he says. “I’m also going to be looking for different breeds – more old-fashioned birds for the organic market.”

(3) See suppliers

The fair is always well supported by a wide range of exhibitors, offering the latest in everything from housing to feed and waste management solutions. Feed equipment supplier EB Equipment has never missed a show, and will be celebrating 50 years of exhibiting this year. “Everybody goes and I like to meet people and keep our name out there,” says the firm’s Mark Bates.

(4) Discover new products

Many firms will be launching new products at the event, including Cobb, which is presenting two new chicken breeds for the welfare-friendly sector. e_SClB”The new products will offer UK producers a wider choice of breeds for supplying the growing sector of the market where consumers are looking for higher welfare standards for both indoor and free-range chickens,” says Euan Meldrum, marketing manager of Cobb Europe.

(5) Network with other producers

And finally, for many visitors, the draw of the Fair is its social aspect. What better place to meet like-minded farmers and discuss the hot topics of the day? “I go because networking is terribly important,” says Tom Vesey, who has 16,000 free-range laying hens at Old House Farm, Dingestow, Monmouth. “It is a small industry so that’s what it’s all about.”

The 2008 British Pig and Poultry Fair is being organised by RASE and partnered by ABN. Media partners are Poultry World and Pig World.