Egg production is a useful diversification for spreading risk, says farmer Charlie Rook, but attracting
young workers is a real problem.
He says: “We are lucky we have a good manager, but he is in his 60s, so we need to start thinking about putting a successor in place to learn off him, but we have massively experienced issues finding young workers.” He hopes being part of the British Egg Academy will encourage more young people into the sector and going forwards will be supporting the initiative through his own farm.
Free-range egg production is a key part of the East Yorkshire family farm and the business will soon have a total of 55,000 free-range hens following Morrisons’ move to be 100 per cent freerange for eggs from February this year.
Charlie’s hens currently produce 210,000 eggs a week, all of which are packed into trays and collected three times-a-week by Chippindale Foods to be sold in Morrisons.
The family also has 800 hectares (1,977 acres), on which they grow cereals, potatoes, vining peas, sugar beet and forage maize.
They also have a 200-head suckler beef herd and are currently moving out of duck rearing into weaner pigs.
With Bishop Burton six miles away, Charlie is ready to welcome students on-farm.
He says: “I think you learn from doing and seeing these enterprises first hand.
By being on-farm, students will get a better idea of what it involves and what the job entails.” Students will shadow the hen manager, walk through the hens learning about good husbandry, write the daily ‘flock document’ to check feed and water, and learn about egg counting to monitor production.
They will also pack eggs and learn the signs to look out for, such as changes in shape and colour, which might indicate a problem in the flock.
“The egg industry is multi-faceted. We need the younger generation to help push the industry forwards.”
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