Harry was the driving force behind persuading his parents to convert the farm to Organic production. It started when he received a letter telling him that his hen food was no longer guaranteed not to contain any GM ingredients, and after shopping around he realised the only way he could guarantee this was to buy Organic hen food. Harry from an early age realised that it was imperative for all his hens to have access to grass and to roam freely to get a high quality tasty egg. The only way to ensure this despite many hens being labelled free range is to keep the colony sizes small. For example if you have 45,000 hens in one hen house, there is no way that all of the hens will leave the house because its significantly difficult for them, imagine trying to make your way through a crowd of 45,000 people to get out a door, its not very easy!! This does however dramatically reduce the costs of production as the hens eat less food as they aren’t running about outdoors, as a result many hens which are labelled free range despite having access to the outside will rarely if ever go outside. Harry’s hens are in houses capable of holding no more than 600 hens, this means that all the hens can freely leave the house every morning to hunt for worms and eat the grass and clover from their organic paddock.
All organic hens are classified as free range but by regulation they are only allowed to live in much smaller colonies in houses that must be movable so that every year they can be moved onto a new fresh piece of pasture. Organic farmers don’t have a wide range of medicines and quick fix solutions to any problems you may incur. So we must plan and manage all aspects of production in order to prevent any problems, to prevent disease build up for instance we move the hens onto fresh ground every year, this is obviously impossible in a large static house.
Organic farming facts
In organic farming:
- Artificial chemical fertilisers are prohibited – instead organic farmers develop a healthy, fertile soil by growing and rotating a mixture of crops, adding organic matter such as compost or manure and using clover to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere
- Pesticides are severely restricted – instead organic farmers develop nutrient-rich soil to grow strong, healthy crops and encourage wildlife to help control pests and disease
- Animal welfare is at the heart of the system and a truly free-range life for farm animals is guaranteed
- A diversity of crops and animals are raised on the farm and rotated around the farm over several seasons, including fallow periods. This mixed farming approach helps break cycles of pests and disease and builds fertility in the soil
- The routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers is banned – instead the farmer will use preventative methods, like moving animals to fresh pasture and keeping smaller herd and flock sizes
- Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are banned