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RSPCA recognises high-welfare egg farmer

AN ORGANIC egg farmer has been recognised for his work managing an organic flock of hens by the RSPCA. 

In RSPCA Assured’s first-ever awards for pig and poultry members, Michael Rutherford from Morpeth, Northumberland, has won the ‘excellence in higher farm animal welfare’ category. 

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Mr Rutherford who, together with his wife, father and brother run an RSPCA Assured organic farm keeping 12,000 laying hens – for which he has specifically received recognition – but also 1,900 breeding ewes, a small suckler herd and 2,000 pigs over the year.

He impressed an independent panel of judges with “unwavering commitment” to laying hen welfare as one, Andrew Joret, British Egg Industry Council chairman, said. 

“What really stood out was Michael’s dedication to finding ways to prevent the need to beak-trim his flocks. 

“Beak trimming is a contentious issue that will eventually be phased out, so for Michael to be getting ahead of the curve by already successfully managing non-beak trimmed flocks is a real inspiration.

“By exploring different types of enrichment and looking very closely at his birds’ environment, he has demonstrated that with the right focus, patience and dedication, it can be done. 

“He is very deserving of this award.”