Organic Centre Wales has organised an open day to encourage more organic producers to rear pullets ahead of the 2011 ban on the use of non-organic pullets.

The event, which is part of the Farming Connect Organic Development Programme will be led by Liz Findlay of Nantclyd Organics. She has been producing organic eggs at Nantclyd, near Aberystwyth, for over 20 years and began rearing pullets about four years ago.

The meeting follows recent discussions of the Welsh Organic Poultry Discussion Group, where producers identified difficulties in sourcing organic pullets as one of the biggest problems facing the sector.

The UK organic standards require producers to use organic reared pullets, but as the supply of organic pullets in the UK is very restricted, producers can buy non-organic pullets if they cannot find organic birds.

Producers must have prior permission from their certification body to do this, and pullets must be less than 18 weeks old and have been reared to organic feed and veterinary standards. However, the derogation is set to end on 31 December 2011, after which time all pullets will have to be organic.

“Improving the supply of organic pullets is a massive challenge” said Tony Little, of Organic Centre Wales.

“Fortunately, a number of farmers have expressed an interest in rearing pullets themselves, both for their own use and to supply other producers, but they need more information to get started. They need to know the likely demand within Wales, the level of capital investment required and the profitability of such an enterprise. They also need training in production techniques and pullet management.”

Organic Centre Wales will be tackling these issues over the next six months or so using resources from the new Better Organic Business Links project and the Farming Connect Organic Development Programme.

Specific activities will include producer surveys, interviews with certification bodies, on farm events, workshops and factsheets. For more information or to book your place, contact Mr Little on 01970 621 632.