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West Newbiggin Farm, Sadberge, County Durham

Philip Twizell comes from a farming family and has been working with the land and animals for as long as anyone cares to remember. This year he is celebrating ten years of rearing egg-laying hens to the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards.

But it hasn’t always been hens for Philip, up until ten years ago, he made his livelihood with pigs. “I had a herd of 900 sows,” says Philip. “But sadly falling meat prices and constant industry changes took their toll on my love of raising pigs.”

“It was a big decision to get out of pig farming and start a new venture with laying hens in 2009, but it was definitely the right thing to do,” continues Philip.

“Yet, although I was an experienced farmer, I soon discovered I knew very little about hens. So I went on a veterinary course and got a lot of invaluable advice from farmers already in the business.”

Part of that advice was to look carefully at which system to use. Philip soon decided on a free-range, multi-tier system for 16,000 birds. This meant his hens would not only be able to roam freely outside but also access different levels inside the house.

“I was really impressed when I first saw the multi-tier system in use,” he explains. “It was a horribly wet and windy day, but all the birds were clean and happy in their environment.

I knew it was a great way to look after hens and I haven’t looked back since.

The key factor in any successful farming system is to give the animals a comfortable environment. And my multi-tier system does just that - it gives them plenty of space both inside and outside and with lots of things to do.

When the hens are inside at night they love nothing more than roosting on the top tiers, or levels, just like they would in the branches of trees in their natural habitat.

If you get the environment right it means the hens are happy, it really is as simple as that.”

And it seems happy hens make good business sense too:

“It’s now ten years since I first became an RSPCA Assured egg producer. It isn’t always easy to maintain high welfare standards - it means long hours and hard work. But good welfare means good performance. They go hand-in-hand, so it works. And when I see happy, healthy hens laying great quality, tasty eggs, I couldn’t be happier,” Philip concludes.

And you don’t have to take Philip’s word for it, try the eggs for yourself – available to order online and delivered directly from the Good Egg Fellas.

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