The closure of ADAS Gleadthorpe did not mean the end of poultry research and experimental husbandry in Britain, said Jeremy Blackburn, executive officer at the British Poultry Council.

ADAS was doing more research than ever, such as the current work on salmonella and campylobacter, and the growth of the free range sector first with eggs and now with poultry meat was giving further impetus to research in the extensive systems.  

“It would be nice to think that the egg and poultry meat industries could get together to fund their own research establishments, but both were operating in very competitive markets that left no margins for such flights of fancy,” he suggested.  

Stephen Edge, ADAS poultry team leader, was equally confident that there would be poultry R&D after Gleadthorpe had closed its doors for the last time.

“ADAS has been the focal point for an increasing amount of industry-based collaborative research work in recent years.

“Working in partnership with academic institutes and other research bodies such as Bristol Vet School and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, ADAS is able to bring its wide industry experience to bear so that the logistics of the egg and poultry meat production, the economic restraints and other technical issues are fully taken into account when developing and undertaking poultry R&D.“

Mr Edge added: “Over the years Gleadthorpe has left its mark on the industry in countless ways,” he said, singling out for special mention poultry house ventilation by Dr David Charles and Arnold Elson’s pioneering research into feeding systems.”

Alan Beckett, secretary and administrator of the British Egg Marketing Board Research and Education Trust, said:  “The trustees can only deplore the fact that Gleadthorpe, which has done sterling practical poultry research work in the past, is now closing its doors for ever.”

“It demonstrates the Government’s official attitude to farming and food production,” he said.

Maria Ball at the NFU said the immediate reaction from the poultry top brass was one of sadness that it was closing. It was felt, however, that in recent years the bulk of research had been commissioned by the commercial companies. “There had been virtully no investment on the unit which was beginning to look run down.”