A year ago Daniel Bush wasn’t even looking after chickens. Although he had been working for Crown Chicken in East Anglia for 10 years, it was mainly driving feed trucks.
He had qualified as an HGV driver at the young age of 21 and had become familiar with the company’s sites and with those of Crown Milling customers. Sometimes he had helped out on farms at weekends and rather took to the task.
Then the chance arose for a site manager for an 180,000-bird broiler unit at Swainsthorpe a few miles south of Norwich.
Daniel asked to be considered and was given the chance which, says Matthew Ward, agricultural director of Crown Chicken, he grasped with both hands. “We were impressed by the way he listened and took on board instructions from others. We soon realised he would make a success of the opportunity.”
He quoted the example of how Daniel had managed a ventilation system linked with the body heat of the chickens to help counter the spiralling cost of gas heating. “Our figures show that this has halved gas use at the farm over the past year, and that’s big money today,” says Mr Ward.
The farm is one of the larger sites within Crown Chicken, but not one of the newest, with six houses built in the 1970s and another three in the mid-1990s. But over the past year under Daniel’s control it has gone from an “average” ranking to the “top 10%” of its 24 sites. It is rearing birds to an average of just under 40 days to supply high quality fresh chicken for smaller retailers.
Mr Ward believes that Daniel has the potential to become an area manager within the next five years.
Daniel has completed an NVQ level 3 in under a year “with no fuss or bother”, says Mr Ward.
Training was provided by nearby Easton College, done mainly through one-to-one instruction by the visiting trainer/assessor. The NVQ comprised units covering health and safety, personal performance, record keeping, bird health and welfare, biosecurity, feed and water, brooding and growing, and ventilation.
Andrew Farley, poultry lecturer at Easton College, says Daniel is an enthusiastic student, who was keen to qualify for his NVQ level 3, and learn as much as he could from his assessor. “He would complete assignments on time, and has remained focused on both his job and the NVQ, without letting things get in the way. His assessor reported he was a pleasure to work with and hopes for many more like him.”
How has training so far benefited your working?
“The NVQ qualification has given me more education, broadened my knowledge and widened my horizons as to the opportunities within the poultry industry.
“The input from the trainer has been greater than I would have received from the company alone.
“I have learned to pay more attention to detail, especially with regard to the paperwork. I have come to a better understanding of welfare issues and put this knowledge into practice each day on the farm.
“I have learned quite a bit about ventilation learning to ventilate as much as possible within the constraints of a normal broiler environment, working out ‘a happy balance’ at all times.
“I now listen and take advice more and listen to my boss. The costings have improved on the farm, and with every crop I am getting better and better results, achieving more profit for the company. In this way I have made a real impact on the company, which I hope has been to my advantage.”
What kind of training would you choose to further your career?
“I would like to consider a Foundation Degree in Agriculture, which is available locally at Easton College. I would also like to look into man management qualifications that might assist me in my career as I progress.”
Matthew Ward, Crown Chicken
How has the business benefited from the employee’s training?
“Daniel has shown an aptitude for learning and a dedication to the job that set an example to others. He has improved results of the site and is now one of our top performing broiler farm managers.
“The training received has been beneficial to the company, as flock results have been good. He has been able to focus on the tasks that matter to produce improved economic performance, with the benefit of being instructed and assessed by David Westrup, a trainer with 40 years’ experience in the industry.”