Up to 30 new jobs at Cumbrian factory as demand for chicken rises
Last updated at 17:25, Friday, 14 January 2011
Wheat prices might be booming but so is the chicken industry in Cumbria where large numbers of beef and dairy farmers have diversified according to the managing director of Frank Bird Poultry.
Paul Bird said that throughput at the family-owned Langwathby factory had increased to 100,000 chickens a day – most of them grown in Cumbria.
Demand is so high for the meat that the factory is set to move to a six-day week later this year.
Mr Bird said: “We’re looking to do a half or a full day on a Saturday starting in March or April. This will mean another 20 to 30 jobs at the factory.
“We have new contractors. There are farmers just getting into the industry who have built sheds. They are diversifying from beef and dairy farming because of the difficulties in these sectors.”
The factory sells the meat directly to wholesalers, primarily supplying the ethnic market and has recently won new contracts. It does not supply supermarkets.
Mr Bird added: “We don’t want to be controlled by supermarkets. Chicken is a cheap product and I don’t think there will a dramatic change in price.
“Soya and wheat prices have almost doubled in the last year or so and the futures markets have had a big part to play in this. We’re making efficiencies to keep prices as low as possible but every week over the last 12 months chicken prices have gone up slightly.
“Lots of farmers are looking to add chicken to their businesses.”
Pow Heads Power Washing near Wigton specialises in cleaning out chicken sheds between crops.
Marie Stockdale, from the firm, said: “The number of farmers we contract to has increased by 10 per cent over the last year.
“Expansion of the business stood still for two years after bird flu in 2007. Once we got over that, we saw a rise in the number of chicken farmers coming to us.”
While many Cumbrian farmers have diversified into chickens over the last two years, processors are keen for existing growers with poultry expertise to expand because of the level of skill needed.
In other sectors of the industry, the burgeoning wheat price has forced growers out. Many turkey farmers have decided not to keep birds for next year which could lead to a shortage of locally-grown birds next Christmas.
First published at 14:25, Friday, 14 January 2011
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk