Andy and Mandy Johnson

In each edition of Chicken & Egg we like to showcase a really good egg from the industry and this time we shine a light on Laydilay Organic Eggs.

Andy and Mandy Johnson set up Laydilay Organic Eggs in 2004; the farm is south of Dartmoor and their small flock of just under 2,000 hens roam 18 acres of rolling hills and woodland. The hens are kept in mobile houses which can be moved to fresh ground, and the hens enjoy straw bedding that is turned and changed regularly.

The smallest house accommodates 100 hens and the largest house 300 hens, and all of them have access to the range from dawn to dusk learning to use the automatic, light sensitive pop holes. For protection the hens are behind electric fences, and 2 alpacas also help to keep any predators at bay.

When I asked Mandy why they chose to farm organically, this was her reply: “We passionately believe in ‘putting the chicken before the egg’ – that if we tend to the hen’s needs first, she will reward us with good health and by laying well”

Putting the hen first for us means looking after her in a way so that she can display her natural behaviours. By belonging to an organic certification body, flock sizes, stocking density and stock rotation are closely monitored to ensure optimum hen welfare. We do not clip the wings or beak tip any of our hens nor do we use any routine antibiotics, and by using organic feeds we are helping to preserve the environment and avoid GM products. We believe that this is the second best way to keep hens after keeping a few in your back garden.

The eggs are sold locally to retail outlets and restaurants, and the website has a map which indicates where their organic eggs can be bought or enjoyed; giving customers total transparency. Finally, and because they understand that hens can live for years and years, Andy and Mandy kindly allow the birds to be adopted through the BHWT once their working lives are over.

In our view Laydilay hens are very lucky hens indeed.

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