Self-sustaining free range egg facility ‘will be first of its kind in UK’

David Laurie, pictured at Place Farm in Stuston.

David Laurie, pictured at Place Farm in Stuston. - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk-based farming business has been awarded almost £150,000 to set up a self-sustainable free range egg-laying facility for 16,000 birds - the first of its kind in the UK.

David and Tracey Laurie, who have set up DR and TJ Laurie Family Partnership at the family farm at Place Farm, Stuston, near Diss, are using the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative grant to build the new laying facility which is designed with innovation, energy efficiency and animal welfare in mind.

The facility will use new technologies to contribute to birds’ welfare and improve their health and productivity, including eradicating feather pecking and reducing disease and pests.

It includes a range of technologies including a heat exchange unit and separate air source heat pump to create an ideal cliamte, a state-of-the-art nesting and laying system with automated feeding and separate waste and egg conveyors, an automated egg grading, labelling and packing system, LED lighting and a rainwater harvester.

The new plant is currently under construction and the Lauries hope to have it up and running around February.

Thanks to the grant, business has already secured a contract with Noble Foods to supply up to 16,000 eggs per day for Marks & Spencer food stores.

David Laurie said he was extremely excited about the new venture, which was bringing together a number of new and established technologies.

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“Grant assistance from the Agri-Tech Growth initiative will make a huge difference to this project and will provide the business with a significant boost which will enable it to grow at a much quicker rate than would have been otherwise possible. Without the grant we would have only been able to build a very standard unit but the facility we will now have is state of the art and will be industry leading,” he said.

Mark Reeve, chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative was created to support innovation within the Agri-Tech sector, which is exactly what this grant will do for DR and TJ Laurie Family Partnership. As the first ever self-sustaining egg-laying facility in the UK, it will use this new technology to boost productivity and lower costs, whilst keeping animal welfare at the forefront.

“As a result of this development, the team have already secured a new contract with Marks & Spencer, and I look forward to seeing them grow even further in the future.”

Chris Starkie, Managing Director of New Anglia LEP said agri-tech businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk were introducing new ideas and inventions which were setting them apart from the rest of the field.

“I am delighted to support DR & TJ Laurie Family Partnership and their ‘hennovation’ which shows the Agri-Tech Grants at their best, supporting businesses who come up with new ideas to be more productive and stand out in a competitive marketplace,” he said.

The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is run by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area.

Grants are available to organisations looking to invest in specialist equipment, new market and supply chain development, ways to improve productivity and efficiency, and the application and commercialisation of Research and Development.

To find out how the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative could help to grow your business, visit or call the LEP on 01480 277180.