Winning Poultry Farmer of the Year is recognition for the Chapman family, who have grown their family business, Farmlay, into a major supplier of Scottish eggs to supermarkets.

Today, straightforward marketing and attention to good service are the watchwords of how the outfit operates, along with considered investment in top of the range farming.

See also: Read all about the Poultry Farmer of the Year finalists

Robert Chapman

Farmlay, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire

© Angus Findlay

It wasn’t always so simple. The business has had to adapt from a supplier to small shops across Aberdeenshire and beyond to one that deals with millions of eggs going to multiple retailers.

Winning ways

  • Huge growth in the past decade, with turnover up £10m in the past 10 years
  • Smart succession plan in place for the next generation
  • Ambassador for Scottish farming – in particular for the poultry sector
  • A lifetime building a successful and profitable poultry business

“The aim is to provide a Scottish product, sold to the Scottish marketplace while maintaining the high levels of quality that customers have come to expect,” says Robert Chapman.

Recent growth has allowed a major investment in Farmlay’s packing station, led by son Iain. “I’m a big believer in delegation,” explains Robert, who will eventually hand over the reins.

Iain has overseen the £3.5m investment in mechanising the process of egg grading further and has introduced a number of innovations along the way.

Where previously fibre trays were used to store eggs, now washable pallets save both money and are better for the environment. A wind turbine helps power the plant and biomass is used to help rear the chicks before they come in to lay.

As Robert and his wife Ethel reflect on a career that has seen a farm grow into a successful major supplier of Scottish eggs, they look to the next generation and to growing the team of loyal staff that run the business.

Many, such as the general manager, began as weekend egg collectors before taking on more responsibility and training.

Fresh faces are also actively being brought into the business to help with marketing, for example, and Robert is very keen to encourage new entrants into free-range poultry farming to supply Farmlay.

For production, growth in organic eggs, as well as continued expansion in free-range and possibly barn eggs in the coming years, present new challenges for the farm.

But Robert is optimistic for continued growth of the family business.

“We feel that our very personal service to our customers, our continuing dedication to bird welfare, advanced production techniques and our strong Scottish Farmlay brand has been at the core of our success and will continue to be in what we hope will be a very bright future.”

Finalists in the Poultry Farmer of the Year category were:

  • Matthew Green, Wot-A-Pullet, Warter, York
  • Rebecca Tonks, St Ewe Free Range Eggs, Truro, Cornwall