A new initiative to make free range poultry production more beneficial to birds, bees and butterflies has been launched by Traditional Norfolk Poultry (TNP).
Wild flowers feature prominently in many of the habitats around East Anglia where TNP produce chickens and turkeys for the retail sector – and now they have set up a monitoring programme to measure the number of pollinators attracted to these habitats.
“This is a really exciting opportunity to research how we can drive the higher welfare standards that make us stand out from other producers,” said Paige Fisher, newly appointed as TNP welfare and environment officer after working in the firm’s agricultural support team.
“We are always looking into creating environments which will encourage natural behaviour in our birds and keep them occupied, sometimes through toys or natural enrichment on the range areas. “We have identified a need to ‘do our bit’ more for the environment and make full use of the land we keep our chickens on. By seeking advice from farmers, gamekeepers and seed providers, we are looking to create nectar and pollen rich habitats which will attract pollinators while also benefitting our birds.
“By carrying out ‘FIT Counts’ (Flower-Insect Timed Counts) on our sites, we’re able to record which pollinators we are attracting with our current natural cover strips. This not only gives us figures to use as a comparison, but also helps us identify which mixes specific pollinators are attracted to and use this data when sowing new cover mixes in the future.
“The aim is to set up a Monitoring Programme which allows us to measure the number of pollinators we’re attracting, which we can in turn provide to organizations such as the Bumble Bee & Butterfly Conservation to help with their counts.”