Farming is a much-loved profession and one that is grounded in a rich cultural history that impacts the lives of the local community, plus further afield. We all depend on the hard work of farm labourers and those who care for cattle, sheep and poultry. Poultry jobs are still much sought after for their dependable work that is mainly done in the great outdoors. But what exactly does a poultry farmer do? Is this the right career choice for you? Below we explore what a poultry farmer does, their role, the training that is required and career options.
What exactly is a poultry farmer?
In simplistic terms, a poultry farmer is a person who farms and feeds birds, such as geese, chickens, ducks and turkeys. This is for the purpose of selling them for their meat or their eggs, which will be consumed by the general public.
Caring for different types of poultry
So, as already mentioned, poultry farming involves the raising and maintenance of different kinds of birds. Below we explore the four main types of birds you will farm.
The most common type of poultry that you will raise in the UK are chickens. They can be farmed for their meat, eggs, or both. With the public tending to eat less red meat, chicken is being favoured by many as a lean source of protein which has a low carbon footprint, which only means demand is growing. However, being a poultry farmer of chickens comes with a huge responsibility. You need to clean the coop thoroughly to reduce the risk of disease and infection and to ensure that there is fresh water and feed throughout the day. Chickens also need to be checked regularly to make sure that the ambient temperature is right and that the coops are well ventilated. It's also vital that chickens get used to being around humans, as it is important that you are able to freely check if any chickens are ill or injured and to be able to remove them. Most importantly, chickens need adequate space to roam freely in well-cultivated land to be happy and as healthy as possible.
Duck farms run in a similar way to that of chicken farms. Duck meat is rapidly growing in popularity with huge customer demand. This type of poultry farming requires both time and dedication. Surprisingly there are forty plus breeds of commercial duck, with Pekin duck being the most popular. The usual daily duties of cleaning, feeding, watering and monitoring the ducks are all needed, just as they are for chickens, but it is also important to monitor their growth, to check that they are putting on the right amount of weight to become fatty.
Geese are predominantly farmed for their meat, although they can be kept for their eggs. Generally, these breeding birds are chosen based upon how quickly they mature and how fast they grow. It's also important to choose the right breed of geese so that you get the best meaty body. If geese are kept for the purpose of producing eggs, then you need to carefully monitor their reproductive health.
Turkeys are another source of lean protein that is growing in popularity amongst consumers, meaning they are no longer subject only to seasonal demand. These birds need fresh feed and water every day, just like other breeds of poultry. It's important that turkeys need lots of room to flap their wings and to be able to move around freely, This also includes using buildings with high ceilings so that they are not restricted. Ventilation must also be carefully monitored as it is important that the turkeys are not overheated in the summer months and that any droughts are kept out on those cold winter days.
What duties are involved?
The life of a poultry farmer is a busy one that covers every day of the week. As well as regularly feeding and giving water to the poultry, the poultry farmer will also need to administer medication, such as vitamins and minerals. Enclosures also need to be kept clean, while maintaining good living conditions such as ensuring that the poultry are comfortable and in an appropriately heated environment.
Record keeping is a vital role within the poultry farm as it is with other agriculture jobs. Records need to be kept of all poultry that is bought and sold, plus any that are injured or sick. Feeding and watering regimes also need to be carefully monitored, temperatures recorded and stock levels recorded and updated. Record keeping is vital for the safe and efficient running of any poultry farm.
You also need to work closely with poultry vets to ensure the health and wellbeing of all birds in your care, and to work closely alongside other poultry workers. It goes without saying, therefore, that you need to be a great team player and have good organisational skills.
What is the working day like?
Working on any type of farm means long hours in all types of weather conditions. You may work during the night, over weekends and holidays, as the farm will always need someone to feed and look after the poultry. It is incredibly physical work, but it is a job that is hugely rewarding, in knowing that the birds in your care are well looked after and happy, clean and comfortable in their environment.
Training and career options
The world of poultry farming is an exciting and varied one, providing you with many different job opportunities and career pathways. You can start work in a poultry farm gaining hands-on experience while studying for a diploma. Other career options include studying for modules in specialist areas of interest, such as poultry science, agriculture, physiology or animal nutrition. If you prefer the business side then you can always go down this route. Another option is to study for an animal science degree that is related to poultry farming. The route you choose will very much depend upon what particular aspect of poultry farming you wish to focus upon.
If you are looking for poultry jobs, perhaps you are just starting out in your chosen career, or are simply feeling like a change. No matter what the reason please do use our online job search tool which allows you to search by job category and location. Good look in your poultry farming career.
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