With the recent surge in interest rare breed poultry there are opportunities for diversification. As part of the Conwy Agri Innovation project Annog supported a trial into commercially rearing rare breed poultry.
Sam Jones realised there was an international demand for fancy fowl and that it had the potential to be a lucrative business. Sam was interested in finding out which techniques would be the most efficient way of breeding these sometimes difficult and sensitive breeds.
Sam attended specialist poultry workshops arranged by Annog and was provided with information and guidance. She went on to trial the new enterprise which involved working out hatching rates, general health of chicks and percentage survival rates of both the 'broody hen' and internal incubation systems.
During the popular open days, Sam was able to show people both systems, explain the equipment and techniques and share her invaluable experience.
Sam explained "It's hard work and can be very demanding," she says. "The chicks aren't going to wait for you and timing is critical. I hope that the trial I conducted will be of use to others starting out and prevent them from making unnecessary mistakes or purchases.''
The trial demonstrated that the internal, highly monitored artificial incubation and hatching systems were the most efficient way of breeding these rare breeds. When these conditions are not met the success rate can be zero. The 'broody' hen method did not prove to be a cost-effective and requires a lot of hens which are expensive in terms of, housing, feed and space.