Pig, poultry and egg producers have endured a volatile couple of years during Covid, but those involved in the sectors will be able to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the industry at the long-awaited biennial two-day Fair at Stoneleigh on May 10 and 11.

With the huge increase in feed and fuel prices, combined with avian influenza and labour shortages, attending this year's British Pig and Poultry Fair – the first in four years and free to attend – has never been more important, according to Danny Johnson, general manager at ABN, which is sponsoring the event.

It was a point echoed by Aimee Mahony, chief poultry adviser at the NFU. “We are facing some big challenges and being able to exchange ideas and listen to viewpoints from people representing different parts of the supply chain is so important.”

With 335 exhibitors and around 10,000 visitors attending, there is something for everyone, whether that’s business advice or new products to improve farm efficiencies. Indeed, there will be more than 60 new products on display, from free farrowing systems to probiotics and low power lighting to litter conditioners.

Rob Mutimer, who farms 750 outdoor sows in Norfolk and is chairman of the National Pig Association, will be looking out for feed options, especially with the withdrawal of zinc from the diet.

“It’s also a good chance to see the building manufacturers; we are having to modify plans for investment due high costs right now but we know we will be investing in due course, so it is good to plan for that.”

To address key difficulties across the sectors and encourage blue sky thinking and discussion, the Fair features a packed forum programme with top industry speakers holding the floor over both days.

In the pig forum, speakers will be examining labour shortages and rising costs as well as the impact of having more pigs than planned on farm, says Mr Johnson.

“This has been an incredibly difficult year. Attending the forums and understanding what learnings can be taken from the past 12 months might help us to plan our way back to a sustainable supply chain for the future.”

The current challenges – and Covid – have only exacerbated feelings of isolation.

The poultry sector has its own set of difficulties, with soaring input costs and a devastating avian influenza outbreak.

Demand for eggs soared during Covid, which boosted prices. But now that demand has reduced, leaving the sector in a situation of oversupply and low prices, says Robert Gooch, chief executive of BFREPA.

“We need to meet up to talk about it and get a feeling for what the future holds," he said.

However, there has been positive movement with feed contracts, which BFREPA has been trying to get off the ground for 10 years.

“The number of members with feed tracker or fixed price contracts has grown from 0% to 30% and we want to see that rise further; it’s a solution that we’re working on,” Mr Gooch added.

In the broiler sector, consumer demand remains strong, with chicken the nation’s No. 1 choice of meat. However, customers are increasingly demanding higher welfare, slower grown chicken with lower stocking rates, Ms Mahony said.

“That is a challenge, but businesses are looking at ways to offer consumers a choice, rather than a full switch for the whole sector.”

All producers will clearly continue to look at ways to maximise efficiency and productivity in a changing environment, and the ABN forums will focus on driving performance in the most sustainable way as the industry continues to work towards meeting net zero targets.

With such a variety of issues facing the sectors, it’s vital to come together to try and address them, says Mr Gooch. “Sitting on your farm and worrying isn’t going to help; whatever the challenge is, talking to fellow producers and sharing information at the Fair can only be a good thing.”

The Fair is also hosting an industry support hub to offer a helping hand to those who might be struggling. The Addington Fund, Farming Community Network, RABI and YANA will be on hand to share advice and resources.

• The British Pig and Poultry Fair takes place at Stoneleigh Park on May 10-11. For more information or to book your free ticket visit www.pigandpoultry.org.uk.

Pig Forum Theatre

10:15 Market and consumer trends (AHDB)

Optimising the market for British pork by selling every part of the pig, stimulating consumer demand and improving the profitability of pork to remain competitive at home and abroad.

• Angela Christison, AHDB sector director pork

• Duncan Wyatt, AHDB lead analyst

• Steve Evans, AHDB senior insight manager

• Susan Stewart, AHDB senior export manager

• Liam Byrne, AHDB marketing director

• Tim Bradshaw, AHDB pork council member

11:00 Pig outlook – predictions for the year ahead

Hear from industry experts on the outlook for the pig supply chain and the challenges and opportunities they are planning for.

• Rob Mutimer, NPA chairman

• Steve Ellis, chief executive Karro Food Group

• Alistair Driver, Pig World (chair)

12:00 Optimal nutrition for economic and environmental sustainability

Hear how using cost-effective nutrient levels at each stage of growth can improve feed efficiency, financial returns, and reduce the carbon footprint of your business.

• Dr Steve Jagger, ABN senior pig nutritionist

• Dr Tegan Whiting, ABN pig nutritionist

12:50 Environmental challenges

Managing environmental and sustainability risk and what it means for your business.

• Dr Jon Foot, AHDB head of environment

• Nicola Dunn, AHDB environment scientist

• Mike Sheldon, council member and pork sector chair, AHDB (chair)

13:40 Animal health and welfare

Hear about how preventing the spread of disease, reducing antibiotic use, increasing our understanding of pig behaviour and improving the physical environment on farm protects the reputation of the pork industry.

• Mandy Nevel, AHDB head of animal health and welfare

• Dr Beat Thomann, University of Liverpool

• Nick MacIvor, AM Warkup

• Jen Waters, AHDB head of knowledge exchange pork

• Derek Armstrong, AHDB lead veterinary science expert (chair)

14:25 Developing people in UK agriculture

Would you want to work for you? This session looks at the steps you can take to recruit, train and develop your staff, how to keep them motivated and why it’s important to look after them. Hear first-hand from farmers who are at the top of their game when it comes to looking after their staff.

• Izak Van Heerden, AHDB business insights and skills senior knowledge exchange Manager (Tue)

• Mark Campbell, AHDB Business insights and skills knowledge exchange manager (Wed)

• Nick Lawson, Rattlerow Farms

• Wil Armitage, dairy farmer (Tue)

• Karen Halton, dairy farmer (Tue)

• Rob Hodgkins, livestock farmer (Wed)

• Joe Delves, dairy farmer (Wed)

15:05 Animal health and welfare pathway for pigs

Hear how the AHWP will benefit your pig business and help you to improve farm animal health and welfare and increase productivity. The speakers will outline how the Pathway will work, plus you will have the chance to quiz the panel in the Q&A.

• Stewart Houston, pig sector lead

• Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer (Tues)

• John Powell, head of agriculture sectors team, Defra (Weds)

• Martin Jenkins, DEFRA policy lead

Poultry Forum Theatre

10:00 Egg outlook – helping you plan ahead

Get the low down from industry experts from different parts of the supply chain, on their predictions for the challenges and opportunities ahead for eggs.

• Elwyn Griffiths, Oaklands Farm Eggs

• Mark Williams, BEIC

• Aimee Mahony, NFU chief poultry advisor (Chair)

11:00 A footprint for sustainable layer feed. Followed by the ‘Breaking Point Summit’

How to transition your farm to net zero: Hear how producers are on a journey to sustainability with strategies to tackle soya in rations. Followed by the ‘Breaking Point Summit’: when will the price of eggs reflect their true value and the cost of production?

• James Baxter, BFREPA chairman

• Patrick Garland, Premier Nutrition

• Luke Briggs, Promar Consulting

• Robert Gooch, BFREPA ceo

• Jon Walton, ADAS

• Daniel Brown, producer

12:00 Poultry meat outlook – expert insight for the year ahead

What should you be planning for? Industry experts from different parts of the supply chain will share their predictions for poultry meat for the year ahead. Hear what they see as the challenges and opportunities ahead for the poultry meat sector.

• John Kirkpatrick, Tesco agricultural manger

• Nick Davies, 2 Sisters Food Group

• Danny Johnson, ABN (chair)

13:00 Precision feeding the modern broiler in the new carbon world

Taking a look at on-farm efficiency and productivity alongside environmental impact, to deliver improvements in bird performance as well as reducing feed costs.

• Brian Kenyon, ABN senior nutrition manager

• Claire Shaw, ABN formulation manager

13:50 A future platform for farming better insects

This forum will outline how farmers can diversify into using and growing Black Soldier Fly larvae and insect protein. During this talk you’ll learn what farming Black Soldier Fly Larvae requires, what it can do for you and how Beta Bugs and Better Insect Solutions can get you up and running by providing you with a regular supply of the insect eggs or baby larvae, which are then reared in dedicated farming systems.

• Simon Lague, Inno+

• Thomas Farrugia, Beta Bugs

• Jake Davies, Poultry Network (chair)

14:30 Manure processing – pelletizing and composting for all species

Poultry manure can be challenging to manage; it’s smelly, unstable and potentially environmentally damaging – but being high in nutrients it is of value. Hear how a new solution can help producers make the most of their valuable manures by processing it into compost or fertiliser pellets.

• Franz-Josef Straub, Big Dutchman

15:10 Animal health and welfare pathway for poultry

Hear how the AHWP will benefit your poultry business and help you to improve farm animal health and welfare and increase productivity. The speakers will outline how the Pathway will work, plus you will have the chance to quiz the panel in the Q&A.

• John Reed, poultry sector lead

• John Powell, head of agriculture sectors team, Defra (Tues)

• Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer (Weds)

• Fran Edmunds, DEFRA policy lead