A planning application for a combined free-range poultry and rabbit-rearing unit has been sumbitted to the local planning authority in south Norfolk.
The application by T&S Nurseries, headquartered in Lincolnshire, is for a site on the former Tas Valley Vineyard near Long Stratton.
The original application was changed from a caged rabbit unit system following pressure from environmentalists and members of the public, who held a series of prominent protests over the battery rearing of rabbits.
T&S Nurseries spokesman, Phillip Kerry, said the protest had convinced the company to try out free-range for both poultry and rabbits.
“We are a national chain and we had proposals for some rabbit farms, but because of media pressure, we have abandoned the cage system in favour of a more free-range style and we are working with Southampton University to try and design an outdoor system,” he said.
“There is a huge demand for rabbit meat because it is a very healthy meat and it is tasty and ticks all the boxes.”
Mr Kerry explained that the company was growing 65% of the food needed for the rabbits at the sites using a hydroponic system.
“What we are doing is very new and we have to watch our costs, which is why we are also including chickens as they give an element of diversification. But because we can grow so much of our own feed for the rabbits we believe it will be economical.”
T&S Nurseries has six sites countrywide now proposed for free-range rabbit farming. A number of these are expected to include free-range chicken rearing.