A former business and IT college student who got a job as a farm hand just by chance now looks after 14,000 hens – and he says he can’t imagine doing anything else.
Sam Waite, 24, has been managing Bulbourne Farm on the outskirts of Tring for almost five years and now oversees the production of thousands of organic Happy Eggs each week.
Sam, who lives in Tring, said: “After I left college, I couldn’t see any jobs in IT and my friend told me about a job at the farm, so I decided to give it a go and I really enjoyed it. No day is the same and the hens are really interesting, curious creatures.”
The former Tring School pupil took a keen interest in the hens’ welfare and the business as a whole, under the mentorship of then farm manager Jean-Paul Michalski, known as JP.
In 2013, Sam stepped up to take on JP’s role as his boss went on to become a consultant for the business, and he now manages a team of four full-time staff plus some part-timers too.
Sam said: “We usually start around 8am by checking the hen house and letting the hens out before we collect their eggs – everyone pitches in as the hens lay 12,500 eggs every day.
“Summer is my favourite time of year because I love seeing my girls enjoying themselves in the sun.”
Due to the size of the site there is never any shortage of jobs to do, a list of which could include anything from putting wood chips around the hen houses, fixing things, grass cutting and the daily production paperwork which needs to be kept in check for the auditors.
The hens call eight self-sufficient mobile barns home, which are powered by solar panels and a wind generator.
They are given plenty of space to roam but by nature, chickens prefer grey, drizzly weather to bright sunshine so they have to be coaxed out of their hen house with lots of trees and wooden shelters to provide shade.
Once they are out, they can enjoy a chicken ‘adventure playground’ in the form of perches, play kits, coloured ropes and dust baths.
Even though the eggs produced on the farm opposite College Lake are sent off to a central packing centre in Lincolnshire before being distributed across the country, Sam says he has seen eggs from his farm in the local shop.
He said: “They have a stamp on them so I know which ones have come from my farm. I’ve seen them in Tesco in Aylesbury before.”
The hen expert says he is keen to progress in JP’s footsteps, but he has a bit of catching up to do before he matches his 20 years of experience.