Over 18 months Poultry World has followed the progress of a flock of free-range layers through their lifecycle, detailing production performance, technical management and how the farm overcame health and environmental challenges.

We first dropped in on Riverside Farm, run by Linda Courtney and her partner Ralph Eldridge, in March 2012, and visited a further five times. The full collection of articles can be accessed below.

From the hatchery to the rearing farm

We picked up the story at the Millennium Hatchery, at Studley, in Warwickshire, where 7,000 Lohmann Browns came into the world on 1 January 2012, before they were sent to a Humphrey Pullets rearing farm in the south east of England.

Settling the birds in at Riverside Farm

At the time of our second visit, the flock had been in residence at the farm for just over a month, and Linda and Ralph were working had to get the birds successfully into lay – likened to preparing an athlete for the Olympics, this article details how it’s done.

Three months in… Rain and E coli

E coli plagued the flock in its third month. Read how the challenge was overcome and that, despite this, birds were putting on weight well and came into lay ahead of schedule.

The wet summer was also doing little to encourage the birds to get out on the range – and increased the worm burden.

Keeping up egg size

The birds’ end of lay period coincided with the coldest winter months, making the task of keeping egg sizes up to scratch all the more difficult.

Our fourth visit looks into the fine balance of maintaining the right feed formulation – too much feed, and big eggs will be uncomfortable for the bird, too little, the small eggs won’t sell.

A year later

The weather hadn’t relented by our fifth visit, leading to our adopted flock being dubbed “the rainy ones” by Linda.

This article takes a look at the business side of the farm, and some of the measures taken to negate volatile feed costs and low egg prices

Preparing for the next flock

The final chapter, and thoughts turned to preparing the sheds for the next lot of layers to arrive – as well as reviewing the overall performance of Poultry World’s adopted flock.

VIDEO: Poultry World at Riverside Farm

 

 

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