THE Welsh poultry sector is suffering with wheat yield and quality badly affected by last year’s wet weather and feed prices quickly eroding profits.

That was the common theme at the NFU Cymru annual poultry conference in Builth Wells in February.

THE latest NFU survey on poultry cost of production shows a considerable rise in feed costs across all the categories with broiler producers reporting an increase of £50/t and cage and free range egg costs rising by £60/t compared with January 2012.

Clare Morgan, NFU Cymru Poultry Board chairman said: “We should not lose sight of the fact that the feed price is not just high in the UK, it is a global situation.

“While it is a challenging time, producers can be proud that the standard to which we produce eggs and poultry meat in Wales is very high.

“We also have some of the most modern and efficient poultry units in Europe.

“In the long term, the research taking place will help the sector but, in the short term, it is vital that producers monitor their costs closely and ensure there are effective marketing campaigns and clear labelling for our products.”

The progress of research into alternative protein sources was highlighted by speaker Dr Michael Lee, of IBERS.

He said: “Research into alternative protein sources – not just for the poultry sector, but for all ruminants and aquaculture – is well underway at IBERS.

“Last year IBERS started a couple of projects looking at the nutritional value and improving yields of lupin, pea and bean crops in collaboration with industry and other research partners.

“The main aim of the projects is to give farmers more control on the sourcing of protein by providing alternative home-grown solutions.”

John Reed, chairman of the British Poultry Council, Elwyn Griffiths, technical and financial director, Oakland Farm Eggs and Chris Dickinson, NFU poultry adviser completed the line up of speakers at the conference, which was sponsored by Wynnstay.