The Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering commercial egg producers the opportunity to travel to England to assess and learn from the latest innovations and innovators in the free-range egg industry. 

The study tour will focus on the newest technologies being adopted for sustainable commercial free-range egg production systems, and includes visits to commercial free-range egg farms in Cumbria and Yorkshire that are using those technologies.

This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE). The tour will include visits to high welfare farms operated by The Lakes Free Range Eggs Company Ltd in Cumbria. This company, according to a press release from DAERA, has a strong environmental and animal welfare ethos aiming to provide the best habitats for free-range hens with an emphasis on optimizing tree planting for ammonia recapture from its units. The tour will also include a visit to a 64,000 bird multi-tier free range system at Sally Farm in Yorkshire which adopt a range of animal health, welfare and environmental technologies.

The areas of innovation studied will include:

  • Ammonia recapture using tree planting schemes
  • Heat recovery units
  • Ground heat source pump
  • High welfare housing
  • Red mite elimination using DC electricity
  • Contract site management

The tour, which will be led by CAFRE Advisers Claire Anderson and Sinéad Mathers, will be held October 24-25.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of the farm business in Northern Ireland who has a commercial egg contract with an egg packer for a minimum of 6,000 birds, who is over 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education. To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return. 

The Farm Innovation Visit Scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland, breakfast, lunch and evening meals when in England.  Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs, including farm relief and travel insurance. 

Applications for the tour will be accepted until October 2.