Aberdeen Degree Students’ Egg-celent Visit
Degree students from SRUC Aberdeen campus enjoy an insightful visit to Farmlay Eggs
First week back from the Christmas holidays and the students of SRUC Aberdeen were already back out exploring the varied sectors available in the agricultural industry.
On Thursday morning, degree students studying Livestock Production and Technology visited Farmlay Eggs in Fraserburgh. The group met, and had a guided tour from, Robert and Ethel Chapman, who continue to run the family business with their son, Iain.
The Chapman family have been operating the farm from just after the Second World War, with their first commercial laying shed being constructed in 1963.
The group discussed with Ethel and Robert the innovative mind send which helped them through the Salmonella health scare and recession, as well as reflecting on ideas for the future of Brexit.
Students were given a complete tour of the production, processing and packaging operations which take place within the enterprise. The various robots were seen in action, including robotic washers, packers and egg analysers. The addition of robots has increased the efficiency of operations, with less damaged eggs and more accurate sorting. With an increase in robotics, Farmlay Eggs has been able to expand in operational size, with the retention of existing employee numbers.
When touring the poultry sheds, the group had the opportunity to visit the farm’s colony caged hens. From here, students discussed their views on the economic and welfare advantages and disadvantages served by the different methods Farmlay operates; colony caging, free range and organic. Included in discussion was the importance of consumer awareness, supermarket buying power and the possible effects Brexit may have on consumer choice – all of which hold influence on the most suitable way to rear chickens for eggs.
As the tour carried on, Robert and Ethel expressed how they manage their waste and operate the business to best suit the environment. Outside, a wind turbine, multiple biomass burners and solar panels support the fuelling of the entire farm and on site housing and offices. Within the packaging sector, Ethel explained how excess plastic packaging is sent away to be upcycled in to play toys for their chickens.
“I was really pleasantly surprised with today’s visit. I didn’t realise eggs could be so exciting! I love that the Chapmans are conscious of making each stage of the process the best that it can be – even down to the presentation of egg carts in the supermarkets”
– Helen Cameron, BSc Agriculture