‘Hen-centric’ approach sees biomass boost egg production

Brothers James and Adrian Potter at their environmentally friendly farm in Catton, North Yorkshire.  Photo Credit: Charlotte Graham
Brothers James and Adrian Potter at their environmentally friendly farm in Catton, North Yorkshire. Photo Credit: Charlotte Graham

A family-run free-range egg producer has made hen welfare a hot selling point after installing biomass boilers and expanding its supply chain.

James Potter Yorkshire Free Range Eggs, which is based at Catton, between Ripon and Thirsk, already has more than 300,000 laying hens supplying Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-Op, and will now also supply 54 Morrison’s stores.

Company director Adrian Potter said: “The continued growth and demand for our eggs shows that strong quality and welfare values resonate with our Yorkshire customers.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to improve the well-being of our hens in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.”

Brothers James and Adrian Potter started installation last year of the biomass boilers, which once complete will produce over two megawatts of carbon-neutral renewable heat.

Biomass is part of the farm’s drive to become environmentally sustainable, adding to its existing solar power installations and its thousands of native trees. Its policy is to sell locally to reduce food miles.

Adrian said: “Investment in biomass is very much part of our hen-centric approach to business and the environment.

“There’s a noticeable difference in the air-quality and our birds seem more content. This really is about creating five-star accommodation for our hens.”

The heat also reduces ammonia build-up and results in fresher air for the hens to enjoy.

Biomass also makes business sense, as the farm reports a noticeable improvement in egg-production, whilst feed consumption has dropped as the hens require less energy to stay warm.

The brothers’ business ethics also benefit Yorkshire communities as one pence per dozen eggs is donated to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Last year, they raised £50,000.

The farm has built a firm reputation for high standards of animal welfare thanks to its ‘hen-centric’ approach and was recently awarded a Good Farm Animal Welfare Award by Compassion in World Farming.