17 Feb Looking to the Future at Dolderwen Farm
Sustainability and diversification drive Wot a Pullet’s new multi-tier rearing farm in Mid Wales.
Left to right: John Buck (LA Systems Technical Sales Manager), Claire Jones, Elwyn Jones, Richard Jones (Lohmann), Alex Calvert (WAP National Planning and Compliance Manager), Jordan Tweedale (WAP), and front: Laura and Matthew Jones.
Wot a Pullet have recently begun rearing at their latest multi-tier system in Mid Wales. The first flock of day-old Lohmann chicks arrived at Dolderwen Farm on 9th December 2021.
The brand-new, purpose built, 36,000-bird rearing house, which represents a diversification into poultry for the Jones family, has been designed specifically to match their needs as first-time producers, and with sustainability to the fore.
“The free-range laying sector is moving increasingly towards multi-tier systems, as it prepares for the move away from colony systems, so there is insufficient multi-tier rearing capacity. Preparing birds in rear for the environment they will encounter in lay gives flocks the best start and the smoothest transition,” Jordan Tweedale of Wot a Pullet says.
A poultry hotspot
Dolderwen Farm is a traditional 330-acre family farm that has kept cattle and sheep for generations. Trading under the business name of G Jones & Co, the farm is located within the rural settlement of Llanafan Fawr and approximately 7.3 miles from Builth Wells. The area is predominantly rural, where agriculture has always been the primary employer, and in recent decades, this part of Mid Wales has become a real poultry hotspot.
Looking to the future
Dolderwen Farm has been in the family for 80 years and has been passed down most recently to Elwyn and Claire Jones, who manage it with the help of their two children, Matthew and Laura, and Elwyn’s parents, Brian and Connie. In common with many other farming families in the region, the Joneses have explored opportunities for diversification, with the aim of making the farm as sustainable as possible and to future- proof it for generations to come.
Looking to continue with their passion for farming, they considered many ways to diversify, and decided that pullet rearing would work best for them as a family. After researching the market carefully, they are confident that rearing will be a success and help to secure the farm’s financial future.
“We are delighted to be working closely with Wot a Pullet. They are well-established and independent pure pullet rearing specialists. We feel sure we will get all the support and backup we need from Jordan Tweedale, who has been alongside us from day one,” said Elwyn.
A great start
The facility is approved as a multi-tier rearing system by RSPCA Assured and was designed and equipped by LA Systems. The Landmeco Multi-Tier Rearing System they supplied is simple in both its design and operation, making it very cost effective, whilst offering the best level of functionality for teaching the chicks how to access the different levels on multi-tier laying systems. It is quick and easy to install, and one of the most open systems, folding up to less than 1.0m for mucking out and catching.
Birds get a great start as a result of being kept on the lower tier of the system with easy access to feed and water for 10 days, before being released and encouraged to explore the whole system.
“We can already see how keen the birds are to explore the system. It has a plethora of ramps and perches which the birds can explore from an early age, which prepares them to use the system as laying hens,” explains Jordan.
Cooperation with the RSPCA
Consultations with the RSPCA identified the key areas that they are keen to see on rearing systems and LA Systems adapted the design of the system to not just meet the minimum required standards, but to exceed them in all aspects. Being able to brood the chicks in the system allows the birds easy access to feed and water whilst also providing less heat demand and easier ventilation.
Once the system is opened, the birds have unrestricted access to the whole house, and with the addition of welfare ramps and extra perches, the birds have no issue in finding their way up the system.
“There is already a long list of orders for future chick placings from this farm, and we are confident of the high quality of the pullets being reared,” says Elwyn Jones. “Jordan Tweedale and Matthew Green from Wot Pullet have been fantastic, working alongside LA Systems to make this such a success. The information provided from the RSPCA Farm Animals Department and RSPCA Assured was invaluable in helping us have the system approved in the UK,” he added.
The Mid Wales location will make it convenient for dropping birds at the surrounding farms, minimising delivery times, stress from transport and environmental impacts from emissions. Wot a Pullet are aiming to rear three flocks per year at Dolderwen, and wherever possible the flocks will be destined for laying farms in the Mid Wales area.
The new unit incorporates energy efficiency measures and technologies that can be integrated with wider energy efficient design principles to ensure high energy performance. The installation of an air scrubber will further reduce emissions.
The building has been insulated according to the most recent building regulation standards, to reduce heat loss in winter and excess solar gains in summer. Wherever possible, materials have been sourced and produced locally, from resources that can be renewed without harm to the environment.
The scheme has also avoided the use of tropical hardwood, and instead, used timber which was certified as coming from sustainable sources.
Minimising the impact of the building on the landscape
The building is sited within a natural hollow of the landscape and does not affect long distance views from amenity areas, therefore minimising the impact of the building on the landscape.
The building is intelligently and sympathetically designed, and strikes a balance between practical and economic efficiency and minimal landscape impact.
Elwyn and Claire would like to thank everyone involved with the build and for the continued support they are receiving.