Layer breeder H&N International – a subsidiary of Lohmann Tierzucht – is launching a new brown bird to the UK market, intended to cater for producers looking to extend the laying life of their flocks.

Known as the H&N Brown, the bird – which sells as the Brown Nick in other parts of Europe and the Americas – will be marketed by a new company, H&N GB. It will be based at the Farm Fresh hatchery at Tarleton, Lancashire and headed up by Keith Henderson.

“Shell colour and strength are its outstanding features,” said Mr Henderson. “It will appeal to customers looking to extend their flocks to 74, 76 or even 80 weeks before depletion. It will fit well in alternative production systems, though it should also perform in colonies.”

Initially, hatching eggs are being shipped in from parent stock in Germany and hatched at Tarleton. But the plan is to build up parent stock in the UK, too.

According to Mr Henderson, the Farm Fresh site, which currently contract hatches for Lohmann and Hy-Line, should be “H&N Brown only” by the end of next year.

This suggests a rapid market uptake. But Mr Henderson, who also runs pullet rearing business Blue Barns Poultry Farms, says the breed will enjoy the benefits of a ready-made distribution network. It will also give the company an opportunity to extend its sales nationally.

Blue Barns currently rears Bovans Browns, Isa Warrens, Isa Browns and Shaver Browns from Joice and Hill, a subsidiary of Hendrix Genetics, for customers in Northumberland, Yorkshire and Durham.

It is understood there have recently been supply problems from the Isa Warren parent stock, and customers are being asked to accept Bovans and Shaver Browns instead.

Blue Barns, which produces more than 2m pullets a year intends to continue supplying Hendrix birds as part of its wider portfolio.

But while Joice and Hill says it will continue to supply birds via Blue Barns, it is also looking for a new sales manager in the North East, to continue developing the market for its breeds.