Our products improve the health and performance of plants and animals, resulting in better nutrition for consumers and a decreased environmental impact. Our more than 5,000 talented team members worldwide share our vision for a Planet of Plenty™. We believe agriculture has the greatest potential to shape the future of our planet, but it will take all of us working together, led by science, technology and a shared will to make a difference.
Behind the scenes of supermarket shelves and dinner plates, British farmers are working with determination to produce quality food and resources for an ever-growing population.
Not only do farmers feed the nation; they also fundamentally uphold high standards in animal health and welfare all while operating in a manner that sustains the environment.
That is no mean feat, especially when we add COVID-19 to the mix.
Currently in the UK, the average person consumes 200 eggs per year. And with a population set to rise by three million, or 4.5%, from mid-2018 to mid-2028, the demand for poultry-based produce is set to continue to increase exponentially.
When it comes to supplying enough to meet demand and doing so responsibly, British agriculture is setting the sustainable agri-food precedent.
Wood Farm free-range eggs
Nestled in a quaint village between Bedford and Cambridge, Wood Farm has been farming and feeding the nation for more than 70 years. Husband and wife Charles and Jo Mear are fourth-generation farmers with phenomenal ambition and super high standards.
Charles explains that his operation goes beyond food production alone.
“Building on our high-welfare status, we are now actively striving to produce carbon-neutral eggs, or ‘Eco-Eggs,’ Charles says. “We power the whole farm using green electricity generated by our solar system and anaerobic digestion plant. We even produce enough extra electricity to power 350 local houses.
“We strive for minimal food miles from soil to fork. Local farmers grow the wheat that we process into bird feed via our own static feed mill. The financial savings we make from reduced travel is invested back into the hens. Since we started focussing on improving gut health, natural liveability has almost doubled, and we have been pretty much medicine-free for three years. Alltech’s advice and nutritional technology has given our birds a greater ability to fight and resist disease and stress. Egg shell quality is now exceptional, and we have far less wastage from cracked eggs.
“Our latest move towards a closed-loop, circular system has been to use the heat by-product to dry and process poultry manure for conditioning our farm soil and local gardens. We try to get as many uses out of one product. This has led to our latest venture: Full Circle Growing,” explains Charles.
Responding to COVID-19
Charles explains how they have adapted during lockdown to keep ensure local residents still have access to eggs.
“Since lockdown, only one of our 20-strong team was unable to work, as they were diagnosed as high risk. The team have been sensational, working hard to meet increased demands and I’m very proud of them.
“One of our longstanding customers, Histon Produce Co, have adapted brilliantly. Normally, they would supply government institutions, such as schools and council offices. When lockdown struck, they responded by repackaging and diverting their food supplies to high-risk health groups in self-isolation, plus key workers.
“At the beginning of lockdown, when the supermarket shelves were sparse, we put out an honesty box, and the locals loved it, and it’s been brilliant.
“The mantra set by our children that we live and breathe by is ‘to be the best we can be.’ We have a relatively small farm, and with the support from government funding, we have to make every square inch count and operate as sustainably as we can,” concludes Charles.
Cracking eggs across the nation
Alltech works together with producers to help improve bird performance, which, in turn, helps to ensure the nation has access to great quality, affordable British food.
“What is just as important as food production is the positive impact of improved bird performance on the environment,” Emily Marshall, poultry specialist at Alltech, explains.“It all comes back to producing more from less while minimising waste.
“In the last couple of years, we have measured over 15 million eggs for shell strength and variance as a way of understanding egg quality. Providing producers or packers with personalised data enables them to compare and benchmark their flock performance and facilitates informed management decisions.
“Nutrition is the most critical factor in birds successfully reaching their genetic potential to produce quality eggs for longer. Health and welfare go hand-in-hand with performance — a happy bird is a productive bird. We try to help producers improve the gut health of their flock.
If gut health is in a good place, the birds will be able to digest and absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from their diet, and they can then use this for sustaining themselves and producing great quality eggs for consumers,” adds Emily.
How to support farmers helping to #FeedTheNation
Animal nutrition company Alltech supports almost half of the commercial birds in the UK, with products to improve the health and performance of each flock. Having worked with British farmers since 1980, Alltech has seen first-hand some of the fantastic achievements the poultry industry has made to produce safe, nutritious food while caring for our animals and sustaining our land, air and water for future generations.
Please join us in thanking farmers and their unrelenting passion to keep the nation fed. Here are some things you can do to support the British farming industry:
- Source locally or buy British where possible.
- Find out what is on your doorstep — get out and about and engage with farmers.
- Prioritise your food budget for less, but higher-quality, food.
- Do your research to understand where food comes from.