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 us!
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