In a UK hatchery, Lohmann GB is expecting its 100 millionth chick to hatch, Poultry World reports.
Lohmann GB is expecting that the chick to hatch at its Millennium hatchery in Henley-in–Arden, located south of Birmingham in Warwickshire, UK.
The 100 millionth chick’s arrival will be a landmark for the company, and a symbol of the rapid expansion Lohmann GB has enjoyed in recent years.
Formed as a partnership between Poultry First (formerly Ross Poultry), and German breeder Lohmann Tierzucht in 2001, the company had sole responsibility for marketing Lohmann layers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. But then, in 2008, Poultry First's shares in Lohmann GB were bought out by current director David Scott, and the result was a more integrated layer production and distribution outfit.
At that stage, the company's two main breeds - the Lohmann Brown Classic and the Lohmann Brown Lite - took a 27% share of the UK market, with 8.4m day-old chicks sold that year. But that figure has grown steadily, hitting 11.6m in 2010 and reaching 12.8m this year, equivalent to a 40% market share, claims the company.
"This sales growth is a reflection of the performance of our birds and the level of technical support we offer our customers," says Scott. "None of our field staff are salesmen as such - they all come from production backgrounds."
Lohmann birds offer both shell quality and persistency, says Scott."Maximising the number of saleable eggs is our mantra, not just maximising the total number of eggs. So shell quality really is the key. And with the birds often achieving 85% at 60-65 weeks, then the producer can expect longer laying cycles too."
The birds have also been bred to achieve good feed intake."The trend towards more free-range production systems means laying hens are also exposed to more challenges," says Scott. "If they are able to take in more feed, then they will be more robust. That does not mean you have to be using that feed intake capacity to the full at all times - but it's there if needed."
Over the past four years, there has been a steady growth in sales of Lohmann Brown Lites, but with some drop in sales of Classics."The Lite was brought in in 2008 with a view to supplying medium eggs for the colony market," says Mr Scott. "But the breed has been popular on free-range units, too, and now over a third of our chick sales are Lites."
The Lite produces an egg about 1.5g lighter than the Classic, and also gives three to four more eggs a bird. This fits the current market requirement, with value and medium eggs more in demand as a result of the double-dip recession.
"You can change egg size easily enough by adjusting lighting or nutrition, but you are always battling against the bird. It's better to use a breed that is designed for smaller eggs."
All Lohmann GB birds come in as day-old parent stock - having been hatched from grandparent stock by Lohmann Tierzucht in northern Germany.
They are placed on breeding farms throughout the Midlands and southern England, some rented, some owned and some on contract. "Having a mix of farms gives us flexibility - if order volumes change, it is easier to make adjustments on our own breeder units."
The fertile eggs are then transported to the Millennium Hatchery where Lohmann GB has a custom hatching agreement.
The day-old chicks are then dispatched to commercial layer units, having been IRBT beak treated and vaccinated for infectious bronchitis and Marek's disease. "We may administer further vaccines, depending on the individual customer's requirements," explains Scott.
Lohmann GB operates as a franchise for Lohmann Tierzucht, covering the whole of the UK and Ireland.
Source: Poultry World