‘Largest ever’ package of funding to support English poultry farmers

The grants will be available to farmers with any current housing system and will support anyone looking to make the transition from colony cages to higher-welfare loose-housing. Photo: Canva
The grants will be available to farmers with any current housing system and will support anyone looking to make the transition from colony cages to higher-welfare loose-housing. Photo: Canva

Grants up to £500,000 are to be available to English laying hen and pullet farmers with flocks of more than 1,000 birds as part of new support to help enhance infrastructure in the sector.

The first grant, ranging from £5,000 to £100,000, will go towards the cost of installing a new veranda on an existing building. Verandas can reduce crowding within indoor housing, increase range use, and provide access to fresh air and natural light when range access is not possible, including when a housing order in in force. Grants for these veranda-only projects are going to be awarded on a first come first serve basis.

A second grant, worth between £15,000 and £500,000, will help farmers with the cost of refurbishing or replacing existing laying hen or pullet housing. Both grants will potentially cover 40% of overall costs.

Higher levels of health and welfare

This is an opportunity to enhance how flocks are housed, with features designed to deliver higher levels of health and welfare, fixed bio-secure, multi-tier housing with non-flicker LED lighting, and mechanical ventilation. Funding for roof-mounted solar photovoltaic systems will also be available as part of these larger projects, and farmers can also build a veranda.

The grants will be available to farmers with any current housing system and will support anyone looking to make the transition from colony cages to higher-welfare loose-housing.

Largest ever package of grant funding

Announcing details of the initiative at the Pig and Poultry Fair, farming minister Mark Spencer said the £22 million was one of the “largest ever” package of grant funding to the sector. It is part of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, set up following the UK’s Brexit and departure from the Common Agricultural Policy.

“This will of course reduce overcrowding in indoor housing and provide access to fresh air and natural light and help manage issues such as feather pecking,” said Spencer.

Link between health and welfare and a farmer’s bottom line

Explaining the reason for the additional support, a Defra spokesperson said: “There is a direct link between the health and welfare of livestock and a farmer’s bottom line. The challenges faced by the poultry sector in recent years make this clear. We know that ageing housing can make a bad situation worse. Many farmers tell us they want to update their housing but struggle to find the funds.”

Defra said it plans to open this grant for applications next month. Full details can be found on the NFU website.

 

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Mcdougal
Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist





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