Townhead Farm has been around since the 1700’s.
But by 2001, the year it was purchased by John and Debbie Penniston, the land that went with it had been sold to a neighbouring farm.
Still, that didn’t deter them—several years later, with a sprinkle of hard work and a dash of opportunity, Townhead Farm had regained 20 acres and was producing more than 25,000 eggs a month.
By 2017, no one could deny the farm was growing at an impressive rate.
Now, it just needed the right equipment to support that growth.
Why Did Townhead Farm Switch To Bulk Feed Storage?
Though they both come from farming backgrounds, it wasn’t until Debbie received four hens for her fortieth birthday that the Pennistons started exploring the idea of returning Townhead Farm to its former glory.
“We realised that really, by accident—by this time I was up to about 25 hens, I suppose—that the egg money every week, by selling to friends and colleagues, actually gave us—albeit a very, very small—income.”
They weren’t ones to miss an opportunity:
“We also realised that there were no other egg producers in the area,” she commented, “And we’re adjacent to a town with about fourteen thousand houses.”
So, when did they decide silos were in order?
Well, with a flock that had grown to almost 1000 hens, a small child, and Debbie still working full time elsewhere, investing in equipment that could ease manual handling and improve biosecurity was the next logical step.
“It was biosecurity and cost that were the drivers for me, you know, and also the fact that I’m trying to actually make life easier, and reduce manual handling,” said Debbie.
“My husband (John) has had some health issues in the past couple of years.
“When we set everything up, we were quite happy to do everything—we did everything with no budget, if you know what I mean.
“So, for example, when we put the hen house in we would do it all so it was manual. And now, we appreciate as we’re getting bigger that we can’t be all manual. We’ve got to try and reduce the work, and automate it all.
“It’s either that or you end up chasing your tail all day.”
Why Choose Collinson Silos?
Although it had taken a few years to make the investment, Debbie and John had had Collinson in mind for their silos for a while.
Debbie had shopped around before, but kept returning to Collinson.
“I’d looked at Collinson before and liked what I saw,” said Debbie.
“I liked the fact it seems quite an ethical company, inasmuch as it’s family-owned and family-based,” she continued. “That’s very much what we’re trying to promote here.”
Recommended Silo Models For Moving Poultry From Bagged To Bulk Feed
When they did get in touch, John and Debbie were open to suggestion as to which silos they should take.
Matthew Lambert, Collinson’s Regional Account Manager for Scotland, was more than happy to advise them.
Townhead Farm store two different types of feed: pellets, and meal-based.
For the pellet feed, a TriStor with its 55° cone would provide optimum flow. A more economical model, it’s the ideal silo for transitioning from bagged to bulk feed.
For the meal, Matthew advised a T3 model, which is a popular choice for poultry installations.
Because the 67° cone—a feature introduced to the UK silo market by Collinson—creates great flow in even stubborn feed types, such as meals and blends.
Hence, a T3 was perfect for storing Townhead Farm’s mealy feed.
Moving From Bagged To Bulk Feed Saves £2,100 A Year
Before installing the silos, Debbie was very keen to maintain best biosecurity practices at Townhead Farm:
“We had swallows nesting in the barn and flying in and out, so there’s potentially swallow feces landing by the hen feed that we’re then taking into the hen house.
“These are all just things that I was very, very aware of.”
Now, Debbie and John can relax in the knowledge their feed is hygienically stored in Collinson silos.
“From a biosecurity point of view, it’s great,” said Debbie. “No rodents can get near it, etcetera.”
And that’s not even the best part:
Since investing in Collinson silos, Townhead farm have been saving £70 per tonne of feed.
Before switching to bulk feed storage, Debbie and John had been purchasing bagged feed at a rate of two and half tonnes a month.
That works out at a saving of £2,100 a year on feed purchases.
“We were also paying about £250 a year in plastic disposal before, to dispose of the feed bags,” said Debbie.
Not to mention the production costs:
“Put it this way—the savings from the silo have taken a penny off our cost of production of eggs, a penny per egg,” said Debbie.
“I know some people would sniff and say ‘A penny an egg isn’t a lot’, but it is a lot when we’re producing more than 25,000 eggs a month.
“A penny per egg and the savings on feed costs is huge.”
Investing Feed Savings In Farm Diversification
Townhead Farm will be reinvesting the savings not only into developing the farm, but into the community initiatives that they’ve put in place as part of a plan to help connect people—especially children—with the place their food comes from.
“I encourage people to come and sponsor a hen,” said Debbie.
“They can come up, they can choose a hen, and the hen gets a coloured ring on its leg. The idea is that the children then think that they get their eggs from their hen.
“It doesn’t cost them any more, but they then get a dozen eggs a week, and they pay monthly."
It’s these little touches to something as simple as an egg delivery that make Townhead Farm such a special place.
“It gets people hooked into an ownership of the farm, if that makes sense?” Debbie explained.
“Many people have never been up here and wandered round.
“We do a lot of work with schools and things, as well. It’s getting people connected back to where their food’s actually coming from.”
Of course, they’ll also be able to further develop their thriving smallholding. A forward-thinking company, Townhead Farm are only in the first stage of revolutionising their process.
“We’re looking to put a third hen house in for later this year, which will be fully automated.”