Northern Powerhouse Farmer Stories: Mark, Louise, and Christopher Forster

18 October 2022

Christopher and Mark Forster

Rearing 4.8 million chickens each year across two farms in Cumbria for the supermarket and fast-food sectors are Mark, Louise, and Christopher Forster.

They produce for the 2 Sisters Food Group which supplies the business with day old chicks and feed.

With an annual turnover in excess of £8 million, Greengill Foot and Beaverlodge poultry farms in Penrith, have 26 sheds in total housing approximately 25,000 birds per shed.

The birds are reared from a day old and leave the farm after 38 days. A new batch comes to the farm 51 days later.

The health and welfare of the birds the partnership rear is of paramount importance. Working with Will Gorton at Agri Vets, the business buys a lot of probiotic, prebiotic, and natural remedies to improve gut health which reduces antibiotic use.

Mark employs six full time staff across the two farms. Local housing in the area being too expensive to buy or rent is a big problem for the business which currently house all of their workforce in bungalows on the farm.

Passionate about succession, Mark and Louise have handed more control of the business over to son Christopher who is already making significant investment changes.

He has purchased a new £300,000 Draper Vent Computer System which Mark says has revolutionised their sheds. Touch screen 55-inch computers control and monitor every aspect of the shed including water consumption, light intensity, how far vents are open and the biomass heater.
Every member of staff can access the system from their smartphones, and everything is alarmed for faults.

Mark said: “The new computer system signifies the important changes Christopher is already making. This is real succession in action.”

In 2014, the farm invested £2.9 million on biomass technology to provide better heat for the chickens. To fuel these, Mark spends £390,000 per annum on sustainable wood pellets from Land Energy in Scotland.

Who does Mark, Christopher and Louise do business with?
Mark, Christopher, and Louise run two feed wagons. They invest £8,400 in a wagon repair and maintenance contract with Solway DAF depot in Cumbria, Emersons Commercial Services look after the trailers and fuel is bought from Allan Stobart Lubricants and Fuels.

Per annum, he spends £200,000 on bedding from Penrith based company A W Jenkinson, a company specialising in animal bedding, wood co-products and transport.

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