The UK’s leading woodland conservation charity is encouraging free range egg producers to plant trees on their farms and benefit from increased productivity and profit.
According to a free range egg supplier that works with the Woodland Trust, tree planting could earn poultry farmers an additional £20,000 per year. The Trust is now urging other free range egg producers across the UK to carry out tree planting schemes of their own, and benefit from integrating them within their business.
The Lakes Free Range Egg Company in Cumbria has planted 40,000 trees on its land, creating over 15 hectares of woodland.
David Brass, Managing Director of the Company, said: “The cost benefit of tree planting is one of the best in farming, and there is the opportunity to significantly increase income. A poultry farm with 64,000 hens could make an additional £20,000 per year as a result of improved egg production and quality.
“Our planting cost £2,000 per hectare, but the farm achieved payback in just six months, and the benefits are outstanding. Trees are now an integral part of our business and I would urge any farmer to consider planting them as it makes economical and environmental sense.”
The Woodland Trust is now working with the Lakes Free Range Egg Company to assess the environmental benefits of tree planting on the wider landscape. This research is particularly focusing on the role trees can play in addressing ammonia emissions and reducing run off of pollutants into water courses.
Glenrath Farms, in the Scottish Borders planted trees with the Woodland Trust at its new farm earlier this year to provide shelter and screening for its hens, and to reduce ammonia emissions and runoff.
Karen Campbell, Operations Director, said: “Encouraging good ranging behaviour is important not just for the welfare of the hens, but also for production. We believe tree planting on our ranges helps us to meet the consumer demand for high quality free range eggs, while also increasing the efficiency of production.”
John Tucker, Woodland Creation Director at the Woodland Trust, said: “As well as improved hen welfare and egg quality, tree planting also offers a number of other benefits to farmers. Trees planted as shelter belts can act as wind breaks and provide wood fuel, and various wildlife species, including birds, mammals and insects will also be able to flourish within this much-needed habitat.
“With new requirements coming into effect this month where ranges for all flocks on the Freedom Food scheme must have five per cent natural cover, now is the perfect opportunity to contact the Woodland Trust, and start making the most of this wonderful asset.”
The Woodland Trust has produced guides to planting trees on poultry farms. To read these, and find out more about the advice and support available from the Trust, either call 01476 452356 or visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/on-farms