Cargill Meats Europe is the latest winner of the Cobb Flock of the Year for Europe, Middle East and Africa region — and the award is a second personal triumph for breeder farm manager Adrian Nicholas.
Five years ago Nicholas managed the flock that won the award for Corbett Farms which supplied hatching eggs for Cargill’s UK poultry enterprise then known as Sun Valley.
Now working as farm manager at Cargill’s Yarpole Farm, near Leominster, Hereford, the flock of 26,000 Cobb 500 parents averaged 144.13 chicks / breeder — three chicks ahead of the previous award winner.
The flock peaked at 84.6% and laid 168.8 total/164.5 hatching eggs to 60 weeks, with a cumulative 87.6% hatchability and 4.5% mortality.
Congratulating the winners, Antony Taylor, Cobb account manager for UK and Ireland, benchmarked this result against UK and EU performance — it compares with an average of 140.9 chicks/breeder among the top 25% UK flocks and overall average of 132.8 chicks /breeder.
The winning flock was reared at Ripple Farm, Tewkesbury, by Derek Morris who believes that grading the birds from five weeks of age into three sizes where they remain until end of lay provides the foundation for success.
The production farm at Yarpole houses the flock in four sheds and Adrian Nicholas spends a day in each shed in turn to check that the flock management is up to his high expectations.
“It was the first Cobb flock we’ve had for a while and we didn’t at first realise its potential,” he says. “The birds kept on achieving fantastic chick numbers and so we retained them for two and a half weeks beyond the normal 60 weeks. It was a very quiet flock that was also easy to manage.”