11 December 2017 | Online since 2003

9 October 2017

BFREPA Award win was "a total surprise" say William and David Maughan


William and David Maughan, who farm in County Durham, received the BFREPA Producer of the Year Award for farmers with fewer than 16,000 birds for the second time, having won it previously in 2009.

Winning the BFREPA award had come as a shock, said Donald. "We weren't thinking about it at all until Noble put us forward for it. I didn't think we'd get it. It's a big shock."

William and David Maughan farm at Morton Tinmouth West, Bolam, near Darlington in County Durham. They produce happy eggs for Noble Foods, starting with 6,000 birds in 2002. The 6,000 bird unit was subsequently increased to 9,000 birds and they have 5,000 birds on a second site. They farm 500 acres in all with 400 acres devoted to arable.

"We are really pleased to have a branded product to sell," said David. "It's a nice tidy unit in a pleasant part of the country in the Tees Valley in County Durham. We get a certain amount of joy from free range, to see the birds out on the range. On some of the mornings we've had recently in late September, in late evening, it's a real joy to see thousands of birds there out amongst the trees. It's a delight for us."

The award judges said that David and William maintained good bio-security, their hens ranged well amongst mixed variety tree planting and grass cover was good, with additional range enhancement 'toys' and fox proof fencing. They said the farm provided "an excellent overall image of free range."

The judges' citation read, "Very good egg production figures focusing on control of egg size to maintain shell quality and therefore maximise profitability but also promoting hen longevity and welfare. William and David have shown that attention to detail has been key to their success. They have experimented with innovative use of shade and shelter range enhancement and opening mesh covered pop holes from day one has seen the number of birds ranging improved."

On production, William told the Ranger, "I think it's attention to detail across the board. The small things add up to the big things, trying to get everything right where you can. I'm not saying we do get everything right but we certainly aspire to and we do the best job we can, as do most people, I think."

In terms of bio-security - a topical issue, given the threat from avian influenza - he said the measures on their unit were those used by many other free range producers. "Attention to people coming on and off the site, we try and keep it completely separate to the rest of the farm - so separate access to it, change of boots for ourselves and personnel going in and out, change of boots, footwear and clothing wherever possible, minimising visitors as far as possible and asking them to take similar bio-security measures."

David said that, having won the award previously in 2009, he didn't expect to be nominated again. "Having been inspected, we didn't expect to win it, so it was a total surprise and really brought a smile to our faces. Really, really pleased."

The BFREPA awards are kindly sponsored by Elanco, and are the leading free range awards in the UK, recognising the best of British free range each year.

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