Supporting research and development

From our earliest days, The Lakes Free Range Egg Company has been collaborating on research and development to improve the welfare of our birds.

We participated in internationally published research conducted by the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) and commissioned by McDonald’s UK. It shows that planting more trees on ranges encourages laying hens to roam more freely, which in turn reduces the amount of feather pecking and stress levels in the flock. This exciting piece of work will encourage roll out tree planting across UK free-range flocks and greatly increase bird welfare on free-range systems.

Laying Hen Welfare Forum (LHWF) Always looking at ways to improve animal welfare, David Brass is a member of the LHWF, working on non-beak trimming protocols and advising Ministers and DEFRA. This involves regular meetings in London, European studies and briefing tours.

Revolutionising chick rearing: Innovation in animal welfare continues. We have a state of the art new rearing facility built with the aim of producing more active pullets that are less likely to feather peck, are better feathered, with improved bone strength and more mobility. Find out more about the new rearing facility by clicking here

Woodland Trust 5 Year Extended Survey with CFEP 

The Lakes is working closely with the Woodland Trust, supporting Cumbria Farm Environment Partnership (CFEP) on a five-year ecological survey programme (ES programme) covering ranges that represent the development of tree habitats on new, intermediate and established ranges.  This is only possible because of our long-term commitment to tree planting.
Preliminary results indicate:

  • Up to 39 bird species on ranges – 6 on IUCN Red List
  • Bats recorded on all farms
  • 50% of ranges recorded Barn Owls

Preliminary results from the ES programme and annual surveys of planted ranges are very encouraging with increasing wildlife value of the planted areas:

  • Bird surveys revealed an average of 28 species present (up to 39 species in late summer). 6 of the species recorded are on the IUCN Red List (song thrush, tree sparrow, lesser redpoll, yellow hammer, linnet, starling).
  • Passive bat surveys confirmed the presence of bats on each range type. Questionnaire to all producers during the annual audits indicates bats seen flying on every planted range supplying The Lakes.
  • 50% of ranges now see Barn Owls

As well as monitoring wildlife, the project will include FIXED POINT PHOTOGRAPHY to highlight the development of the ranges.

Ranges are classified as:

  • NEW (Ranges planted less than 2 years ago)
  • INTERMEDIATE – (Ranges planted c. 4 years ago)
  • ESTABLISHED – (Ranges planted c. 8 years ago.)

The benefit of working with CFEP includes the long and rich history of working relationship CFEP Advisors have with The Lakes and their Producers. Some early years ‘before and after pictures’ already exist, e.g. Information from these surveys will be used to identify the best way forward for future range planting strategies so that they continue to benefit local flora and fauna as well as the hens.

Each of our trees will use up ½ tonne of CO2 per year when mature

David Brass with free range hens