Broiler bedding – “A keen eye for Welfare delivers Productivity and Quality”

Broiler bedding – “A keen eye for Welfare delivers Productivity and Quality”

Tomahawk 404M 505M 505XLM

Oliver Hoddinott is a specialist broiler grower located close to Wells in Somerset. Mr Hoddinott took over the unit around 7 years ago, with capacity to around 1.5m chickens/yr. in 2014. The farm produces birds under contract, with chicks delivered at 1 day old, and shipped out at 40 days. Oliver adds “revenue depends enormously on quality, with a high productivity being essential. Because the chicks and the feed are delivered to us to a standard specification, bedding is one of the influential factors that I control that enables me to optimise margins on the farm”. 

“Over a number of years various bedding systems including white wood shavings, recycled material and straw have been evaluated. The welfare of the birds is carefully monitored, with the outcome from each system being weighed against cost and availability of each bedding product”. 

Oliver currently uses a Tomahawk 404 Mill fitted with a 21mm sieve to process rape straw – it is important to use a mill fitted with hammers as this exposes the fibres to make the straw more absorbent. Oliver has also trialled wheat straw, but this tended to ‘cap’, significantly reducing the quality of the bed.

This system has been in place for around 30 months, and with a reliable local supplier of high quality rape straw Oliver says “the whole system has worked well for us”. The investment in the tractor, straw mill and grab for the Telehandler will see a pay-back period of around 3 years. “I like to keep everything under my control, and in this system I produce the bedding material myself, where and when I need it”. For example, Oliver often beds up the broiler houses at night using the Tomahawk to reduce the risk of contamination of the bedding by Starlings. 

 Biosecurity is clearly very important to Oliver and reflects the attention to detail that his flock receives from start to finish. To this end the Tomahawk has been retrofitted with a tank that can apply an anti-bacterial agent to the straw as it is discharged into the broiler sheds.