Poultry firm offers free-range deal to entice arable farms

One of the UK’s largest free-range chicken producers has urged arable farmers to invest up to £1m and diversify into contract poultry production.

Traditional Norfolk Poultry (TNP) already operates more than 50 contract poultry-rearing sites across East Anglia. But it says there is a rising demand for high-welfare free-range poultry and is looking to continue its expansion.

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Mark Gorton, co-founder and joint managing director, said: “From our conversations with the major retailers, we know there is no stopping the increase in popularity of free-range poultry.

“To meet this demand we need to bring a new generation of farmers into the industry by providing them with a strong business case for investing in production.

“We are targeting farmers willing to invest up to £1m to set up a poultry unit.

“This will generate a substantial addition to the farm income as well as returning their investment within 10 years,” said Mr Gorton.

Ideal site

  • 5ha
  • Three buildings housing 40,000 birds
  • Cost £1m to construct

He explained that the business model was based on farmers investing in purpose-built, static housing designed by TNP to accommodate free-range flocks of about 40,000 birds in a high-welfare system.

The contract package covers everything from the initial planning, house construction and range design through to comprehensive in-house training for new growers.

Under the contract the company owns the birds, housing and equipment and pays farmers for their facilities and management of the flocks.

Although the model scheme will typically provide a return on investment in 10 years along with enhancing farm income, it can be tailored to a longer period if the farmer opts to take a higher income each year.

Alternatively, TNP offers the option of renting back the facility if a farmer does not want to be involved in running the unit.

What’s in the deal?

  • TNP retains ownership of birds, housing and equipment
  • Pays income for management and site
  • Supports through planning, design and construction of housing
  • Provides practical training 
  • 10-year return on investment
  • Longer return on investment exchange for higher annual income
  • Rents back unit if farmer opts not to manage flock