22nd September 2020
To help meet the growing demand for UK-produced free range eggs, local firm Fridays Ltd is proposing to create a new farm south of Maidstone.
Fridays, a third-generation family business based in Cranbrook, and one of the country’s largest free range egg producers, is proposing to invest £8m to create three industry-leading hen houses.
The proposed Wealden Woods Free Range Farm is on land at Reed Court Farm at Chainhurst, near Hunton, and Fridays’ plans include the planting of 36,000 trees to create 20 hectares of new woodland and woodland pasture with a mix of native species.
As well as the free range farm and woodland, Fridays proposes to create a new public access route along the River Beult to the north of the farm, by applying to re-route various public rights of way.
Graham Fuller, Production Manager at Fridays, said: “Like our other nearby free range farms, we will operate to the highest standards of animal welfare and our approach has been praised by the highly respected organisation Compassion in World Farming.
“If approved, we will be able to plant 36,000 trees, which is more three times the number of trees at the National Pinetum at Bedgebury.”
Alongside the tree planting the hen houses will be fitted with solar panels. The aim is for the operation of the Wealden Woods free range farm to be carbon neutral.
Each of the proposed three hen houses would have a dedicated range area and accommodate up to 64,000 hens. They would incorporate the latest farming technologies for feed and water delivery systems and ventilation. Manure produced by the hens would be removed twice a week by conveyor belt direct to a covered trailer and removed from the site.
Mr Fuller added: “To improve our environmental performance, the manure would be transported to an anaerobic digestion facility at nearby Knoxbridge Farm, near Staplehurst, which will produce odourless compost and biogas.”
Fridays is looking to submit a planning application to Maidstone Borough Council later this year.
For further information and to comment on the proposal visit www.wealdenwoods-freerange.co.uk