I farm: “44,000 laying hens, all free-range, with my wife Ann. We have two full-time staff, some part-time staff, and then students at the weekends - about 10 in total.”

Hens: “Our hens are all Lohmann Brown birds and we operate at 90-95% production, pretty standard for them. They lay in nest boxes. We’ve two sheds of 16,000 and two of 6,000. They come in at 16 weeks as pullets, lay their first egg at roughly 20 weeks, and we keep them then for about 80 weeks.”

Eggs: “We pack about 30% of our own eggs and the rest then go to other packers. We needed a 24c/dozen egg price increase last year, but we haven’t got all that. I’d say it’s been 15c or 16c [of an increase]only, but [we need more] to recoup the extra costs of production.”

Costs: “It’s been tough going for the last year and a half, with the price of meal and the price of pullets. Pullets would be eating that more expensive meal as well. They’re at around €6/bird now, up from €4.50 in 2020. We’re paying €400/t for meal at the moment, up from €250/t in 2021. I’m hoping the price of feed comes back and eggs stand still.”

Bird flu: “It’s a bit dangerous at the moment because of the volatility of prices and bird flu. The banks are awful cautious with the bird flu. We bought wheel washers and we have no unnecessary visitors now. You have to keep biosecurity at its highest. You can’t drop your guard on that. The Department do a good enough job on monitoring it, in fairness.”

Buying Irish: “Ireland isn’t self-sufficient on eggs. As long as cheap imports don’t come in, we’ll weather the storm. That’s what you’d always be afraid of – these imports with lower standards.”