AI vaccination on the Agenda

June , 2022

With huge advances in vaccine technology, Mark Gorton looks at the path towards protection against avian influenza in the UK.

Over the past six months we have seen an unprecedented number of avian influenza (AI) cases. Despite the industry’s best efforts to keep it under control millions of birds have had to be culled.


Clearly the current strategy is not working and we need to look at alternative ways to deal with this in much the same way as we control other poultry diseases such as fowl pest or infectious bronchitis. I’ve been working hard to start the conversation around vaccination for AI as I believe this needs to be seriously considered going forward. The positive responses received from the industry have been very encouraging.

There are many reasons why AI vaccination is not straightforward, but it is perfectly possible and there are plenty of countries now using it. China, for example, has done so for the past 20 years and there are vaccine trials underway in several

European countries including the UK. Recently the Pirbright Institute in Surrey announced the development of a ‘targeted antigen delivery vaccine’ that triggers high levels of antibodies against H9N2 flu virus. This novel vaccine not only provides long-lasting protection against flu but is not affected by maternal antibodies that can decrease the effectiveness of vaccines in chicks. This is an example of the type of huge advances made around vaccination for Covid that can be also applied to AI vaccines. And just as Covid mutates from one strain to another, AI strains change too and vaccines can be adapted to allow for this in the same way. It is not going to be straightforward or happen quickly – but I will keep banging my drum and hopefully let the experts do what they do.

Recent Posts

January , 2022

As a company, we are recognised for making small changes on the land we farm that can make a big difference to the environment immediately around us. This year has seen us planting specific seed mixtures thatprovide habitats and food sources to create biodiversity on farmland. After lengthy discussions and advice from seed providers such […]

October , 2021

Production of Christmas turkeys this year will benefit from completing the first phase of our £5 million expansion programme. The initial £2.6 million investment is aimed for the seasonal production of turkeys with two new blast chillers and a new turkey packing hall. The two new chillers, capable of chilling 20,000 turkeys a day, will […]

November , 2020

The past five months have certainly been a challenge within the farming base due to the unprecedented weather conditions. Looking back – and for the second year running – the heavy rains started way back in October and continued right through until February, adding up to some of the toughest growing conditions we’ve ever experienced. […]

Enriching ranges to benefit poultry and wildlife

January , 2022

As a company, we are recognised for making small changes on the land we farm that can make a big difference to the environment immediately around us. This year has seen us planting specific seed mixtures that
provide habitats and food sources to create biodiversity on farmland.

After lengthy discussions and advice from seed providers such as Kings & Cotswolds, we were advised to sow mixtures that are rich in plants such as phacelia, borage, chicory and crimson clover. Alongside this, we decided to add a ‘Cornfield Annuals’ mix which consists of wildflowers such as the common poppy, cornflowers and white campion. Not only are these visually striking, but attractive to insects in providing them with a food source.

Our contract farmers have been fully on board with this initiative and they’ve seen lots of insect activity as a direct result of planting specific mixtures.

It is important for us that whatever we choose wouldn’t just be beneficial short term but could be easily managed and have a long life-span that we could monitor visually. The seed mixtures chosen achieve a combination of overhead summer and winter cover for our poultry, act as further enrichment and encourage natural behaviour such as foraging and ranging.

They provide a nectar and pollen rich food source for pollinators and utilise our range areas better.

While it is still early to measure the impact our cover strips have made, we have already seen the bright flowers attract native bees and butterflies – and lots of farm wildlife such as hares, pheasants and partridges hiding in the cover!
We are excited to watch our poultry enjoy exploring their new environments and will continue to monitor and report on the progress next year

Recent Posts

June , 2022

With huge advances in vaccine technology, Mark Gorton looks at the path towards protection against avian influenza in the UK. Over the past six months we have seen an unprecedented number of avian influenza (AI) cases. Despite the industry’s best efforts to keep it under control millions of birds have had to be culled. Clearly […]

October , 2021

Production of Christmas turkeys this year will benefit from completing the first phase of our £5 million expansion programme. The initial £2.6 million investment is aimed for the seasonal production of turkeys with two new blast chillers and a new turkey packing hall. The two new chillers, capable of chilling 20,000 turkeys a day, will […]

November , 2020

The past five months have certainly been a challenge within the farming base due to the unprecedented weather conditions. Looking back – and for the second year running – the heavy rains started way back in October and continued right through until February, adding up to some of the toughest growing conditions we’ve ever experienced. […]

Future proofing our seasonal turkey business

October , 2021

Production of Christmas turkeys this year will benefit from completing the first phase of our £5 million expansion programme. The initial £2.6 million investment is aimed for the seasonal production of turkeys with two new blast chillers and a new turkey packing hall.

The two new chillers, capable of chilling 20,000 turkeys a day, will be brought into use along with a new turkey packing hall and new packing lines giving an abundance of extra space for storage and further expansion. The yard area has been upgraded with new water and offal handling processes, making life much easier for people working there.

“The main purpose of this expansion is to give us more capacity and to future proof our seasonal turkey business,” said Mark Gorton, TNP Managing Director. “The build hasn’t been without its problems – and trying to do it through the pandemic added to these – but I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and persistence in tackling the task and getting it completed ready for this season.”

The project was part funded by an EU rural development grant awarded on the basis of contributing to business efficiency, benefiting the rural economy and representing value for public money.

Recent Posts

June , 2022

With huge advances in vaccine technology, Mark Gorton looks at the path towards protection against avian influenza in the UK. Over the past six months we have seen an unprecedented number of avian influenza (AI) cases. Despite the industry’s best efforts to keep it under control millions of birds have had to be culled. Clearly […]

January , 2022

As a company, we are recognised for making small changes on the land we farm that can make a big difference to the environment immediately around us. This year has seen us planting specific seed mixtures thatprovide habitats and food sources to create biodiversity on farmland. After lengthy discussions and advice from seed providers such […]

November , 2020

The past five months have certainly been a challenge within the farming base due to the unprecedented weather conditions. Looking back – and for the second year running – the heavy rains started way back in October and continued right through until February, adding up to some of the toughest growing conditions we’ve ever experienced. […]

Coping with flooding, Arctic weather…and more…last winter

November , 2020

The past five months have certainly been a challenge within the farming base due to the unprecedented weather conditions. Looking back – and for the second year running – the heavy rains started way back in October and continued right through until February, adding up to some of the toughest growing conditions we’ve ever experienced.

Not only this, but we had to deal with the housing order instigated across the country due to the heavy avian influenza infections within the area. Then there were some huge problems with this appalling weather, flooding being one of the biggest challenges we’ve seen! We witnessed flooding on fields this year where we have never seen water settle before, often leaving the land so wet the sheds could not be pulled. In turn this put exceptional pressure on the growing space available at the time. In some cases this water is still not soaking away due to the total saturation of the ground. When the rains finally stopped just into February, this was only to be followed by the Arctic cold snap! This just compounded the issues out on the farms further.

Our farmers really did have some exceptionally challenging issues with frozen water pipes and treacherous conditions getting into work due to the drifting snow and strong wind. The way they coped is testament to our farmers that all got to work and managed to keep the farming base running with very little disruption!

On reflection the past five months really have been a challenge to the agricultural department. Enormous credit and thanks to all our team members out on the farms who on a day-to-day basis had to deal with some of the poorest weather conditions I can ever remember and still kept delivering throughout.

Recent Posts

June , 2022

With huge advances in vaccine technology, Mark Gorton looks at the path towards protection against avian influenza in the UK. Over the past six months we have seen an unprecedented number of avian influenza (AI) cases. Despite the industry’s best efforts to keep it under control millions of birds have had to be culled. Clearly […]

January , 2022

As a company, we are recognised for making small changes on the land we farm that can make a big difference to the environment immediately around us. This year has seen us planting specific seed mixtures thatprovide habitats and food sources to create biodiversity on farmland. After lengthy discussions and advice from seed providers such […]

October , 2021

Production of Christmas turkeys this year will benefit from completing the first phase of our £5 million expansion programme. The initial £2.6 million investment is aimed for the seasonal production of turkeys with two new blast chillers and a new turkey packing hall. The two new chillers, capable of chilling 20,000 turkeys a day, will […]

‘Outstanding’ start for first full cycle farm

May , 2020

The Middleditch family are the first of the new generation farmers diversifying their farm to grow free range chicken. David Middleditch and his son Harry have invested in the 40,000-bird enterprise to achieve a new, more secure income stream against the background of uncertain future returns from their Essex arable acres. “They have put their heart and soul into the project and achieved outstanding performance with their initial flocks,” said Jim Lambert, TNP agricultural manager. “Even with no previous experience in poultry, they have exceeded our performance parameters.”

The ‘full cycle’ approach enables birds to be reared from day old to 56 days of age on the same site. The Middleditch family rear the birds in three 1300 square metre houses. At 28 days of age or earlier the chickens are allowed out to range freely over 15 acres of grass where 8000 apple trees and 800 metres of hedgerow are being planted. “As arable farmers, everything was new to us,” said Harry Middleditch. “All the heating, ventilation and feeding is automatic – and we had to learn to trust the system.

We are on a learning curve and when we needed any advice, TNP were on hand to help. “We see free range chickens fitting in perfectly with our arable business. The business plan was very straightforward and very supportive and TNP provides a long term contract with returns related to feed price. This diversification means that, unlike arable farming, the destiny is in our own hands.” Their new investment also covers two other projects. The apple trees will supply local fruit juice to manufacturer Copella, and a bio-mass boiler will be fed with forage rye grown on the farm.

Recent Posts

June , 2022

With huge advances in vaccine technology, Mark Gorton looks at the path towards protection against avian influenza in the UK. Over the past six months we have seen an unprecedented number of avian influenza (AI) cases. Despite the industry’s best efforts to keep it under control millions of birds have had to be culled. Clearly […]

January , 2022

As a company, we are recognised for making small changes on the land we farm that can make a big difference to the environment immediately around us. This year has seen us planting specific seed mixtures thatprovide habitats and food sources to create biodiversity on farmland. After lengthy discussions and advice from seed providers such […]

October , 2021

Production of Christmas turkeys this year will benefit from completing the first phase of our £5 million expansion programme. The initial £2.6 million investment is aimed for the seasonal production of turkeys with two new blast chillers and a new turkey packing hall. The two new chillers, capable of chilling 20,000 turkeys a day, will […]

Spring is round the corner

March , 2020

Lets be positive Spring is coming, however even on chilly days when the sun is trying its best to come out despite the wind and rain our chickens still venture out exploring their enriched environment.

Recent Posts

June , 2022

With huge advances in vaccine technology, Mark Gorton looks at the path towards protection against avian influenza in the UK. Over the past six months we have seen an unprecedented number of avian influenza (AI) cases. Despite the industry’s best efforts to keep it under control millions of birds have had to be culled. Clearly […]

January , 2022

As a company, we are recognised for making small changes on the land we farm that can make a big difference to the environment immediately around us. This year has seen us planting specific seed mixtures thatprovide habitats and food sources to create biodiversity on farmland. After lengthy discussions and advice from seed providers such […]

October , 2021

Production of Christmas turkeys this year will benefit from completing the first phase of our £5 million expansion programme. The initial £2.6 million investment is aimed for the seasonal production of turkeys with two new blast chillers and a new turkey packing hall. The two new chillers, capable of chilling 20,000 turkeys a day, will […]