Hockerwood Park Farm has recently become the first free-range farm in the world to have the new Vencomatic system installed, which is designed to have the very highest standards of bird welfare.
Freedom of movement and welfare
Designed around freedom of movement and welfare, and with input from the RSPCA, the Veranda Gallery Aviary System has been 4 years in the making. Its creation follows studies with the University of Bristol and the Dutch University of Wageningen and takes the best aspect of the original multi-tier system and incorporates a range of state-of-the-art features.
- Welfare ramps designed to reduce keel damage by 23%
- Perch design to allow easy access throughout entire nest system
- Secure grip design of the Miteperch, a chemical-free effective red mite control which could save up to 40p/hen per year
- Step on rails providing 98% safe landings for the birds
Hockerwood Eggs supplies 280,000 free-range eggs a week to Noble Foods, the UK’s largest supplier of eggs. Following an investment of 500,000, the Veranda Gallery will house 26,500 hens across 2 units and owner Patrick Lynn believes it could increase production levels by 10 extra eggs per hen house and reduce mortality rates through effective red mite control.
Mr Lynn said: “I’m passionate about improving the welfare of my birds, providing them with the best conditions. Having previously installed the Vencomatic Veranda Aviary System, we have seen first-hand the raft of benefits the system has provided to our business, from reduced feed consumption to increased productivity.
“The Veranda Gallery Aviary System provides the best possible environment for our chickens, allowing them to express their natural behaviour. By investing in the system, we believe it will help safeguard our business for the future by helping them to provide security in times of uncertainty.”
Commonplace in the next 10 years
Jean-Paul Michalski, head of agriculture – retail – for Noble Foods, said he believed the new system would become commonplace in the next 10 years across the UK.
“We’ve worked with Patrick Lynn for almost 10 years and have developed a strong long-term relationship, supporting him to achieve his production and welfare goals. Installing the Veranda Gallery emphasises his passion and commitment to enhancing sustainable poultry farming practices and going above and beyond welfare standards.”
Kevin Howse, sales director for Vencomatic Poultry UK, said he believed high welfare equalled high productivity, adding that the system would provide sustainable high-quality egg production that would satisfy the British consumer as well as ensuring welfare, longevity and profitability for egg producers.