BUSINESS is booming for a family-run poultry enterprise thanks to a growing market for free-range chicken in Wales and support from Farming Connect.

Martyn and Danielle Lloyd were running a sheep farm at Cilshafe, near Fishguard, when they spotted a niche in the poultry sector.

The business has flourished and their free-range chickens have earned them several awards. They now produce 8,000 birds a year. In a normal week there is one day dedicated for processing, but in the run-up to Christmas this increased to four days.

In the fortnight leading up to December 25th the couple’s working day often didn’t end before 10pm.

“It was hard work but we are thrilled that our customer base keeps on growing,”

said Martyn.

“As poultry producers we expect to be busier than ever for Christmas, it is wonderful that there is so much demand for our chickens.”

When the Lloyds made the decision to set up Martyn and Danielle’s Free Range Chickens, they approached Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes, for support. The couple were members of a Farming Connect Agrisgôp group, a Welsh Government initiative, which provides funding for farmers and their families to get together to explore opportunities.

When they spotted an opening for rearing poultry, the couple applied for one-toone business support through Farming Connect’s subsidised whole farm plan service, claiming back 80% of the cost.

Whitland-based Landsker Business Services, an approved Farming Connect mentoring company, provided four days of support and this, together with the business advice they received when the enterprise was in its infancy, was crucial to its success, said the couple.

They were also put in touch with other poultry producers who were able to offer guidance and practical advice during that all important business development stage.

“We visited poultry farms and gained knowledge that has really helped us along the way,” Martyn explained.

Jeremy Bowen-Rees at Landsker Business Services also helped the Lloyds with their application for funding for a new unit to process poultry on-farm.

The rearing progress starts with the arrival of four-week-old Rhoscobbs sourced from Somerset. The poultry live in sheds with full access to a paddock and are reared until they are ten weeks old.

The business now employs two staff and supplies a large number of farm shops and butchers. Martyn and Danielle are also regular stallholders at Fishguard Farmers Market.

They plan to add lamb and duck to their product range in the near future.

This Christmas was one of the busiest so far for the business with orders for more than 700 chickens.

“We get really good feedback about the taste, especially from our older customers who say it reminds them of the days when chickens were reared on local farms for neighbours and the wider community,” said Martyn.