By Tom Woolman

 

NOT everyone embarking on employment in agriculture will consider the poultry sector when starting out. 

But it can offer a uniquely rewarding career that blends stockmanship with technical know-how. 

See also: The Poultry.Network Sustainability Hub

Our three case studies below highlight three people who didn’t set out for a career in poultry who are thriving in the sector. 

Alison Colville-Hyde

Alison Colville-Hyde was brought up on a dairy farm but when she was given three hens from an old battery farm, her passion for poultry was started.

Breeding and showing poultry in her spare time, she managed to breed her own strain of native meat bird, which she sold to high end restaurants.

Allison Colville hyde blow drying a chicken for show ingNot realising that careers existed in the poultry sector, Alison trained as a vet nurse and worked for six years in practice.

She then went on to work for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as an animal health officer. Focusing on notifiable diseases including salmonella, she began visiting poultry farms to take samples.

Then a friend passed her an advert in a newspaper for a job with Devon integrator Lloyd Maunder. She went for the interview not considering herself to be qualified but to her surprise she landed the role, looking after the company’s 45 organic supply farms.

Following this Alison moved to St Davids Poultry Team where she was tasked with setting up their field services.

Specialising in brooding chicks and vaccinating, she travelled the country doing audits and providing management advice on all sorts of farms.

In 2020 she began working for Humphrey Feed and Pullets as a poultry specialist, now merged with Wynnstay, where she gets to work with a wide range of customers, including layers, layer rearing, broilers and broiler breeders, both conventional and organic.

Alison says to anyone considering a career in poultry: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have got an interest in something then make some time to work in that area and take on some knowledge.”

Kieron Daniels 

Alison is not the only amateur chicken fancier who has made it into a career in poultry. Many people know Aviagen’s Kieron Daniels, but not all realise that he was brought up on a council estate in South London.

In his teenage years Kieron describes himself as a ‘naughty boy’ and at 16 his mum sent him to live with his dad in Country Galway to stay out of trouble.

Kieron Daniels with a chicken

His dad expected him to work and he got a job on a local beef farm, having never lived in the countryside before.

There, he fell in love with the peacefulness of the countryside, and when he returned to London he studied for an animal care BTEC.

During this time he kept and showed poultry, of which Dutch bantams were his favourite, which he exhibited at the Vauxhall show.

Getting a job as a teacher and youth worker, he started sharing his animal management skills with other young people in the city.

The bureaucracy of teaching was getting him down though, and one evening he found himself googling ‘chicken farms’ looking for a new job.

He found one with Cargill as an assistant manager on a laying site in mid Wales. It came with a house, so he moved back out of the city.

After a stint in management positions on several farms for Cargill, including some broiler experience, he took a job with ABN supporting their broiler customers for four years.

In 2020 he moved to Aviagen as their first ever broiler technical manager, a role which he has really made his own.

“Using my skills set as a teacher, I can now be an effective communicator about chickens,” he says.

Shane Noble

 Shane Noble had always wanted to be an engineer or perhaps an architect when he grew up in Zimbabwe.

His great aunt used to have a farm with arable, beef and chickens, where he used to enjoy spending time when he was younger, but he never considered a career in agriculture.

Following his passion he did an engineering apprenticeship and started working for Toyota with maintenance tasks and engine rebuilds on Hilux pickups.

He moved to the UK in 2002 when he was 19. He had family who worked for PD Hook in Oxfordshire and after applying for a few jobs he picked up a poultry worker job near Cote hatchery.

Peter Furlong was General Manager at the time and he was keen to support Shane’s progression.

Shane Noble

Within a year he had become assistant manager, and in another year and a half he was a farm manager.

He then managed two other laying farms in the area over the next 10 years, achieving consistently high results and picking up a number of Cobb and Aviagen awards.

Ready for a new challenge he approached James Hook and asked what opportunities were available.

This was just as the acquisition of Vion was happening in 2014 and an opening came up as an area manager in Shropshire working with Chris Chater.

When Chris moved on to another role he found himself taking on the regional manager position, looking after the rearing and laying farms for PD Hook in the Western region, a job he is now well established in.

“Just go for it!” advises Shane to anyone wanting to make a career in the poultry industry. “Seize opportunities that come up and grab them with both hands”.

He notes that sometimes you might have to look in different parts of the country for your next break, so don’t be afraid to consider all options out there.   

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