I have tried several breeds and continue to do so but Hy-Line is our number one choice and the current flock consists of 30,000 standard Hy-Line Brown and 32,000 Hy-Line Brown Plus.
With some breeds the slightest stress, not enough fibre in the ration, lights too bright, temperature swings etc and they will start to pull feathers and it's very hard to stop. We have used lorry loads of lucerne on other flocks but we've found the Hy-Line doesn't need any of this and they seem quite happy with whatever life throws at them. Once you lose feathers its terrible for the bird and the financials - feed consumption goes up as does mortality and egg quality deteriorates dramatically. Basically, a high maintenance bird will leave you penniless - this doesn't happen with Hy-Line. The support I received from John Widdowson and Neil Willett from Hy-Line's Technical Team was also a big factor in the success of these flocks,
One of the reasons we choose Hy-Line as our majority breed on our 128,000 bird free range unit is because of the superior feather quality of Hy-Line. Feather cover is high on our list of 'must have' traits. Not only is good feathering important for overall flock health but it now plays a major part in assessing bird welfare during the numerous audits we have. We remember one particular audit on behalf of a major retailer, when after five minutes the auditor said they had ceased scoring the flock for feather cover because the birds were all gaining top scores!
Hy-Line's ability to keep its feathers means that house lighting can be kept at a high level throughout the life of the flock, which helps maintain production levels and the management of non-nest eggs. "We start all our flocks off at 100 per cent light intensity and we don't have to reduce this with the Hy-Line's. Our first flocks on the farm were Hy-Line and we have stayed loyal to the breed ever since. For comparative reasons we do run competitor breeds on the site, but if we could only have one breed it would definitely be Hy-Line Brown. As well as its excellent feathering, the bird is incredibly resilient, we've had mortality rates under two per cent at 76 weeks... and dead birds don't lay eggs! In addition, the support we receive from Hy-Line's Technical Advisor Elwyn Lewis is priceless.
We are a small family farm in Norfolk and started in the egg industry some 9 years ago. We were recommended Hy-Line hens and have had the same breed ever since! The birds are phenomenal, fantastic natured and brilliant producers and we have never had a problem with floor eggs or training to perch.
The back up from Terry and Kraig has been excellent and we have made life long friends! At the end of the most recent flock we were sorry to see the ladies go as they had full feather cover and lots more potential.
We did re home a few to local families and the comments we have received echoed our sentiments about the breed.
We have the first egg vending machine in our farm shop and have a reputation for fantastic eggs!
We tell all our farming friends about the breed and are proud to tell the media when we are featured in the news!
Keep up the good work Hy-Line!
We have successfully completed two flocks of Hy-Line both through our multi-tier and flat deck system. I was amazed at the feather cover of the Hy-Line bird and without a doubt they are the best feathered birds I've ever had at 74 weeks. Another impressive trait of the Hy-Line was their liveability, at 74 weeks we had an outstanding 3.1% mortality. Our most recent flock of Hy-Line browns was housed in February and we are excited to see even more improvements with the ongoing genetic improvements to their bird. The technical support and hands on approach of Hy-Line is second to none and we have enjoyed working with all the team.
Following a switch to a home mixed ration eight years ago my Hy-Line Browns have gone from strength to strength. We are now running our Hy-Line Brown to an extended 86-week cycle. Egg production is sustained and production is increased by 10-15% at certain times since switching to the home ration. We could keep them even longer such is the condition with feather cover, weight and health, but even so we are achieving an extra three months from each flock. Over a four-year period, the business is saving the cost of an entire 16,000 bird flock. Our first flock of Hy-Lines was in 2008 and we haven't looked back since. The technical support and information available from Hy-Line is first class. Neil is always on hand to offer support and advice to maximise the flocks potential.