After deciding to diversify into egg production two years ago, Clive and Liz Patrick reveals whether the decision has lived up to their expectations.

“Although it’s been more work than we could have ever imagined, there’s no doubt in my mind that diversifying was the right decision for the farm. And, after turning our 600 acres into zero-till production, we now have more time on our hands and can run our 16,000 Hy-Line Brown flock without the need for additional staff. Although having said that, weekend help is always gratefully received from grandpa. If we’re lucky one of our children, Tess and Sam, will be home from university or college and looking to earn some petrol money.

The performance of our first flock delighted us. At 72 weeks of age they were laying an average of 315 eggs per bird, with a mortality rate of just under 4%. They even saved us money as they consume far less feed than the average bird – while some varieties can consume 130g per day, the Hy-Line Brown averages at about 118g. We’re told that this is due to the birds being exceptionally fit and fully feathered throughout their laying period.

After observing these impressive results, we ordered replacements to arrive in November 2011 and have since found these have settled even better than the first flock. They are incredibly mobile and have adapted brilliantly to the equipment – a free range, 16,000-bird Jansen multi-tier system.

Having a full set of statistics to refer to everyday has also been really useful for monitoring their performance. It’s week 37 and there is an impressive 95% average production every day. What’s more, the number of floor/system eggs is running at a respectable 1.21% and continues to reduce daily.

Working with poultry, we’ve learnt that every day is different and you can never know what’s around the corner, but thankfully we’re well supported.”

Thurlby Grange Farm, in Lincolnshire, is principally an arable farm, with a beef unit, which is owned by Tony and Ruth Reynolds and managed by their daughter Liz and son-in-law Clive.