Farm hoping to keep extra 32,000 chickens

James and Angela MacLean who own Border Eggs at Hutton in the Borders . Angela set up MacLean Eggs in 2015.
James and Angela MacLean who own Border Eggs at Hutton in the Borders . Angela set up MacLean Eggs in 2015.

Plans being drawn up for a third chicken shed at a farm near Allanton could provide a jobs boost for Berwickshire.

Angela MacLean, owner of MacLean Eggs, hopes to build the shed at his family-run farm, Hutton Hall Barns, also home to Border Eggs.

It currently has several poultry sheds housing up to 40,000 birds on the site, and the proposed new building would be MacLean Eggs’ third, accommodating 32,000 free-range hens.

That mooted increase in birds is a result of commitments made in 2016 by supermarket chains including Tesco, Morrisons and Aldi to source all their eggs from cage-free hens by 2025.

Producers such as MacLean Eggs are now investing in new facilities to meet the market demands those pledges are about to generate.

A contract for the additional eggs has already been agreed, and the poultry unit would be operational in 2018, if approved by planners.

Angela, 42, whose husband James runs Border Eggs, founded her company in 2015 to set herself “a challenge to establish a thriving business, to employ local people and to work with animals.”

She told the Berwickshire News: “Hutton Hall Barns is one of the very few farms in the area actively increasing staff numbers year on year.

“The poultry shed approved earlier this year will increase my staff numbers by an additional four.

“This is not to mention the seasonal local employment created at certain times of the year to help with the chickens.

“As a producer of welfare-friendly free-range eggs, I am proud to supply a food that the consumer desires.

“My growing business will help to meet some of the increasing demand for Scottish free-range eggs, but more importantly it will create jobs for local people and produce food in the beautiful Berwickshire countryside.”

The couple currently employ a total of 10 full and part-time staff members across the 444-acre farm.

However, the recently-approved second unit sparked five objections, including one from Hutton and Paxton Community Council, so a similar fate may await this one.

Those objections were concerned with bird numbers and capacity within fields, proximity to watercourse and impact from pollution.

This latest application, put to Scottish Borders Council by Kevin White Architecture, will have sufficient space for free-ranging 2,500 birds per hectare in line with European Union rules.

The proposed new poultry building would also be positioned more than 400 metres from the closest house, Hutton Castle Barns.

There will be two tractor and trailer loads of manure moved per week from the proposed poultry house, and birds are to be removed and sheds restocked every 56 weeks, accounting for eight additional traffic movements in each 13-month cycle.