Claire Bragg  -  How does the broiler industry need to change to feed an increasing population?

I am married to Nick and live in the South West of England on the edge of the village of South Petherton, Somerset.  Currently we farm 500 acres of arable crops, growing potatoes as well as maize and grass leys as fodder for local dairy farmers. In addition to this we run a contracting business which includes a full potato service, min-till, drilling, supplying and spreading of chicken litter. In 2006 we inherited two small old chicken houses at Ilminster, we modernised these houses and subsequently built a further three houses (5,300 m2) at South Petherton and rented another house about a mile away from us – in total we produce 824,000 broiler chicken each year.

We also have a huge passion for showing people where and how their food is produced.  We regularly host visits on the farm ranging from Schools, Young Farmers, Rotary Clubs, Government Officials and other Farmers; in 2012 about 1,500 people visited the farm.  We are in the process of obtaining planning permission to convert one of our barns into meeting rooms and cookery school to enhance our ability to educate.

My study topic is “How does the broiler industry need to change to feed an increasing population”   On the 31st October 2011 the world population hit 7 billion, by 2050 the UN suggests that this figure will be 8.9 billion - an increas of 27%.  How will we produce enough food to feed this expanding world as it is unlikley that we can with current practices.  Chicken is the world's most common bird and therefore has a huge part to play in feeding the world with a relatively inexpensive healthy source of protein.

I would like to visit growers in the UK, France, America, Brazil, Ukraine, New Zealand and Australia – which should take me through the scales of production to discover how to produce chicken more efficiently.  In addition to travelling abroad I am very interested to find out how/if our Government and industry leaders have plans for the increasing population.

I wish to thank both the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust and my sponsor The Nuffield Poultry Meat Award Syndicate. It is an absolute honour to have been awarded this scholarship.