22 October 2017 | Online since 2003

9 October 2017

Donald Seed adds BFREPA Producer Award to his collection


Donald Seed, who farms in the Scottish Borders, added the BFREPA Producer of the Year Award for a farmer with more than 16,000 birds to the Producer of the Year Award handed to him by the Co-op this year.

Donald, whose farm is at Gavinton, Duns, in the Scottish Borders, has a 32,000-bird free range unit, which has grown in size since he first started in egg production six years ago. "We have got a 32,000 free range egg unit. We use Lohmann birds. We are on our fifth flock now. We started with a 16,000 unit. Last year we built another 16,000 unit and we are on our second flock there," he said.

The award judges remarked on Donald's "outstanding production figures and attention to detail" as well as "clever use of renewable energy to improve conditions," and he told the Ranger that the two things were connected. "Using our biomass boiler, we blow hot air over the manure belts, which keeps our manure nice and dry. The relative humidity in the shed is lower because of that and so the hens are nice and dry and the litter is nice and high quality," he said. "It makes them more happy, they eat better and lay better eggs."

As well as heating the chicken houses, Donald's 900 kw biomass boiler also dries all the farm's grain. Until six years ago the farm was wholly arable. "We were purely arable. We have still got a 500-acre arable farm. We used to be an arable farm with some chickens. We are now a chicken farm with some arable," said Donald, who said the renewables on the farm also included a windmill and solar panels.

He said the productivity of his chickens was also boosted by feeding the birds vitamin D3 towards the midway point of the flock. "We think it helps reduce seconds and improves egg quality," he said.

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."

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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