Farmers Weekly Awards Winner: Poultry Farmer of the Year

David and Helen Brass are role models in their sector, their impressive grasp on the free range egg market and ability to cash in on their high ethical standards make them honourable winners.

Since leaving the air force in 1997, David decided to take his parents beef and sheep farm in a new direction.

But success doesn’t often come without an element of risk and David and Helen did just that to establish The Lakes Free Range Egg Company. Not long after setting up the couple decided to invest in a new packing station.

“It was a risky decision, but one that secured the future of our business. It led to interest from large retailers and resulted in a total investment of about £1m in the new station,” says David.

The business now sells in excess of 100m egg sales a year to McDonald’s as well as Morrisons and local outlets. In the past 10 years turnover has increased 20-fold to £10m.

But it’s not all about egg sales for the couple. It’s the care for their producers with the variety of training days they offer, along with the company’s impressive green credentials that make them so unique.

They are the only company that require its producers to follow a government approved biodiversity action plan, planting trees, hedges and encouraging wildlife.

The scheme developed along with the Farm Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), saw 60,000 trees planted across their farms, in 2006.

It was David and Helen’s contribution to animal welfare and the environment that made McDonald’s choose them as suppliers in 2004, wanting a European “flagship farm” to set a good example.

Recently launching Natures Nest Eggs in Morrisons stores, the couple continue to enhance local wildlife, with a penny for every dozen eggs sold going towards protecting red squirrels, dormice and osprey in the area.

Active within the industry, David regularly speaks at poultry meetings and is a member of the NFU regional NW poultry committee and British Egg Industry Council (BEIC).

David and Helen’s dedication to the free range egg sector undoubtedly deserves to be rewarded.