FW Awards 2009 winner: Poultry Farmer of the Year – David Speller

  • Sponsored by EB Equipment
  • WINNER: David Speller, Lower Farm, Derbyshire

Having no prior experience of poultry farming has certainly not held back David Speller from establishing a successful broiler business.

And he didn’t take the easy route into the industry establishing a broiler unit within the Peak District National Park with all its tough planning rules. Building the unit literally involved moving a hill.

The £2.5m investment had its risks, but with his determination and willingness to embrace new technology, it is now paying off.

David was the first British producer to employ underfloor heating. Each shed has two gas boilers heating water which is pumped through nearly seven miles of polyethylene piping.

This alone has brought savings in gas use and improved bird performance. “Seven-day weights are consistently 10g higher than the Moy Park average and litter quality is excellent, being dry and friable.”

He calculates that the savings in gas use and improved chick performance means it will pay back for itself in 5-6 years.

Technology doesn’t stop there, he has CCTV cameras inside and outside the sheds and he can remotely monitor shed temperature, humidity, lighting and carbon dioxide levels. His system also monitors on a live basis the consumption of water and feed, which allows the early detection of any health problems.

But it is not just about good growth rates, welfare is also a priority and David has even gone to the lengths of constructing his own catching tunnel. This gives catchers easy access into the shed when thinning and depleting flocks without letting in light, therefore helping to keep birds calm.

Even though he doesn’t directly sell chicken to consumers, it hasn’t stopped him from getting involved in Moy Park’s marketing and being featured on supermarket packs. Similarly, he has gone beyond what is required in controlling odour by investing thousands of pounds in a misting system to neutralise smells.

His experiences are now helping the wider sector through his consultancy side of the business, including working with the British Poultry Council in its dealings with the Environment Agency.

David’s future vision is to expand his business by eventually building another unit to replicate his high performance.

And judging by the results, he is certain to succeed. At the time of the judging visit, David was at the top of Moy Park’s performance league table with a European Poultry Efficiency Factor (EPEF) of 357.9 for his last crop.



  • 14 acres in Peak District National Park
  • Situated 1000ft above sea level
  • 180,000 broilers in four sheds
  • 100,000sq ft rearing space
  • Ross 308 birds as hatched
  • Contract reared for Moy Park


  • Established a successful broiler business
  • First to adopt under floor heating
  • Risen to the top of the Moypark performance table


  • David Speller is a leading broiler grower who has embraced new technologies and knowledge to drive his business to the top of the Moy Park league table. He clearly cares about the welfare of the birds and the local environment. Mark Bates, EB Equipment


  • David exhibits the kind of vision and total commitment necessary to continue to succeed in the competitive broiler sector. John Newton

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