Improve livestock health and wellbeing
Trees integrated into livestock management systems can boost production and improve animal health and welfare. David Brass, CEO of The Lakes Free Range Egg Company in Cumbria is seeing improvements in animal health as well as commercial benefits for his farm.
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Hi I'm Dave Brass, from the Lakes Free-Range Egg Company in Penrith, Cumbria. Initially, we started planting the trees just to get the birds outside the range. That was the only benefit we had.
As the trees get bigger and you get more used to them. There's other benefits.
We've seen Red squirrels we've never seen before, we've seen Barn owls we've never seen before. It provides shelter, it retains water now. That we never even thought about when we planted them. It just gives you that good feeling. and there's no downside.
For us it's all upside, we get better production, better quality of product and it makes you feel nice. Why not?
Poultry has issues with giving off ammonia. Your planners sometimes don't like ammonia emissions from chicken sheds so they refuse planning. Trees absorb that so it doesn't go out with the site. So, there's lots and lots of benefits we never thought of in the first place.
The papers have been published in scientific journals, peer-reviewed to show that you get better mortality, better production, better egg quality, less seconds, less disease.
The cost of planting trees is recouped ten times over in the first couple years.
A 16,000 bird unit like this one is around about £3000 a year better off. That's what it would cost to fence and plant this amount of woodland in the first year.
So, after the first year every year ongoing you're £3,000 better off.
With less disease, before you start counting the cost of antibiotics and treatments you might need for your birds.
And also of course now when you get woodland in this stage you're thinning it out, so we have the biomass and the wood chip that we can either use ourselves or we can sell on to somebody else. Which is another income strain.
The farm without trees will be a poorer place. If I have to give that advice to other farmers especially
with free-range chickens, it's plant more trees. Without a doubt, the benefits way far outweighs any downsides of having to look after them [the trees] or taking up bits of your farm. They just wonderful have around makes you feel good in the morning as well to be fair. You're leaving something for the future.