Over the past 10 years, the British Free Range Egg Producers Association’s 400 members have planted in excess of one million trees and Rhins farmer James Baxter and his family have done their bit.
The Baxters have planted over 3,000 trees in four years at their farm, Glenhead of Aldouran, to encourage their 64,000 free range hens to explore the great ourdoors.
James said: “We already had a lot of trees on our farm and range but these new trees are helping to create a corridor for the hens to move out of the sheds, the trees have started to encourage them to range more and as they establish this will only increase.
“Hens are intuitively nervous, the trees provide shelter for them and a more natural environment to scratch around in.
“Because they’re so happy, the hens produce over 20 million delicious eggs a year for Noble Foods. But the trees James has planted not only benefits the hens but the customers choice as well.
“With the number of trees we’ve planted for our hens it allows us to market some of our eggs as woodland eggs.”
The family picked native species of tree including oak, rowan, cherry, birch and crab apple.
He added: “We chose to plant native trees because we wanted to keep it as natural as possible and for the farm to look attractive now and in the future.”
The Baxters will continue to plant more trees on unproductive spots across the farm as they watch their 3,000 trees grow in the future.
Tree planting is only one of the ways many free range egg farmers are investing to improve both hen welfare and the bottom line of their businesses. Husbandry, housing and other wildlife initiatives all contribute to ensure farmers have happy hens and top-quality eggs.