Chicken & Egg Issue 11 - page 29

It’s all about eggs at the moment with The Great British Bake Off just behind
us (surely good for British eggs!). And as sure as eggs is eggs, there’s got to
be hens in close proximity and where there’s hens, there’s a farmer.
In this second celebratory issue we decided to bring it back, close to home
and focus on the small scale free range flocks that we would like to see
flourish across the UK.
Ken Cottey runs a free range farm, not far from Hen Central here in Devon,
in the Blackdown Hills of Somerset. Blackdown Hills Westcountry Eggs is a
family run business which gives welfare top priority.
The hens are encouraged to roam in a stimulating environment, partly
developed with the help of the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group to
ensure the hens enjoy a lifestyle as close as possible to their natural ‘jungle
fowl’ instincts with options to shelter under tree canopies. In fact
Blackdown Eggs also take trees very seriously and have planted 6,000
native woodland trees close to the hen houses to encourage the hens to
range fully. The wood from the trees is chipped and used to power a bio
mass boiler that generates electricity to power the packing operation.
Solar panels are installed on the roofs of the hen sheds, supplying energy to
help power the sheds themselves. And in keeping with the self-sufficiency
theme, natural rain water is captured for which there are many uses
around the farm operations.
The hens are fed on a top-quality natural feed, and of course get to enjoy
the additional benefits of grass, grubs and grit. Once they’ve eaten they
can enjoy a good dust bath in the areas allocated.
I really enjoy highlighting the good guys out there giving hens a decent
free range life – Blackdown Hills Westcountry Eggs get the thumbs up from
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