Free range egg producers were given top tips on reducing the percentage of second quality eggs laid by their flocks during a live broadcast from a poultry farm.

Wern Farm, a Farming Connect demonstration site at Y Foel, near Welshpool, is adopting production methods that will help it to deliver what the egg market requires.

This includes measures to reduce second quality eggs produced by its flock of 32,000 Bovan Brown hens, which will also enhance profitability.

In addition to improving egg quality, Osian Williams is investigating ways of improving drinking water quality in his poultry system.

“We don’t vaccinate our poultry after they arrive on farm therefore it is crucial we do everything we can to provide the best quality drinking water to protect and support flock health,’’ he says.

A strategy of adding non-infective bacteria is reducing ammonia levels that can impact on bird health.

Sensors have been installed throughout the shed as part of the farm’s work as a Farming Connect demonstration site.

These measure ammonia and carbon dioxide levels as well as temperature and humidity in the 32,000-bird shed and activate automatic misters to spray non-infective bacteria at set times and when data collected from the sensors identifies spikes.

During a Farming Connect Demo Farm Live event from Wern, Aled Davies, of Pruex, said harmless strains of bacteria sourced from soil will replace the harmful bacteria in faeces to prevent uric acid being converted to ammonia.

Ammonia affects the efficacy of vaccines, can cause damage to the throat of chickens and increase mortality rates but, by influencing the environment, bird health can be optimised, he said.

At 77 weeks of age, flock mortality at Wern is 3.7 per cent with birds performing extremely well, achieving 359 eggs per bird with an average egg size of 65g.

But Osian, who farms with his parents, Dafydd and Eleri, and his partner, Nikki, aims to improve efficiency further through this Farming Connect project.

“Egg production is a numbers game, we have to be as efficient as possible,’’ he said.

An environment in a poultry shed is healthy when it contains more harmless bacteria than harmful types.

Bacteria are also being added to water at Wern, to prevent harmful biofilms occurring, and vitamins and herbs will also be introduced to further boost bird health and combat challenges such as red mite.

“We know we can measure ammonia levels over time and by adding non-infective bacteria to the water to improve the quality we can take the pressure off the birds’ immune system,’’ said Mr Davies, who is working on the project with the Williams family.

“Farmers are practical people, if they see a hole in a fence they can fix it, but they can’t see ammonia and bacteria and analysing data allows them to do that.

“We surround hens with faeces, uric acid and ammonia but if we can take the pressure off them by reducing ammonia levels, they will pay us in eggs and there will be less mortalities.’’

The fact sheet for Wern farm is available at