FARMING minister Mark Spencer said he was announcing the ‘largest ever’ package of grant funding to producers at the Pig & Poultry Fair, with schemes potentially of benefit to the poultry sector. 

The measures include more than £22m in grants to laying hen and pullet farmers in England.

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Forming part of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, producers will be able to apply for one of two grant categories. 

There would be grants of £15k to £0.5m towards the refurbishment or replacement of existing hen and pullet housing to improve health and welfare. 

An example would be a biosecure, multitier house with LED lighting and mechanical ventilation and verandas. Roof mounted solar cells could also be included. 

New verandas

Alternatively, producers will be able to apply for £5k to £100k for new verandas on existing buildings. 

“This will of course reduce overcrowding in indoor housing and provide access to fresh air and natural light, and help manage issues such as feather pecking,” he said.

Both grants will potentially cover 40% of the overall costs.

Guidance for the ‘veranda only project’ has been published on Defra’s website, with the online checker expected to open at the end of June, and remain open for 12 weeks until late September. 

These veranda grants would be available on a first-come, first-served basis, said Dr Gina Caplin from Defra, while a scoring system would operate for the full housing projects.

The verandas on either grant category cannot be included in stocking density calculations, she added.