Horsham farm outlines new plans after bird flu wipes out thousands of chickens

A Horsham poultry farm which was producing around two million eggs a week for customers across the south has been hard hit by bird flu.
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Family-run farm Kinswood Eggs based in Brooks Green ended up having to cull 391,000 chickens and destroy 1.5 million eggs when bird flu struck in 2022.

Now farm owner Mark Beckett is seeking planning permission from Horsham District Council to diversify the business and change the use of a number of former chicken sheds and a packing building into storage and light industrial units.

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Agents for the farm – planning and development company White & Sons – in a statement to the council, said the farm was originally producing 104,000,000 eggs a year to customers along the south coast, London, Hampshire and Kent.

Thousands of chickens had to be culled at a Horsham farm following an outbreak of bird fluThousands of chickens had to be culled at a Horsham farm following an outbreak of bird flu
Thousands of chickens had to be culled at a Horsham farm following an outbreak of bird flu

But it had to stop production when bird flu struck. “This meant that the business had to cease operations,” said the agents, adding: “The legislative requirements did not allow the producer to restock for 12 months following the outbreak and there is no guarantee that the flock would not become infected again.

"The applicant is restocking but this will be with a third of the number of birds previously kept, going from some 321,000 laying hens to 112,500 to limit the risk and recognising that many of the previous customers have been lost and made new arrangements elsewhere.”

This, they said, meant that a number of the farm buildings were no longer needed for poultry production but could be re-used as storage and light industrial units with minimum changes.

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"The applicant has a genuine reason to seek alternative business uses given that they have been unable to continue egg production for at least a year. Whilst

the egg production is being reinstated, it will not be to the numbers previously applied due to the risk of reinfection. The applicant now requires a more balanced business which is not reliant on income from primarily the eggs alone.”

They added: “The change of use would create a more secure revenue stream to help sustain the wider farm business, repaying debts accrued over the period of closure and the costs associated with re-stocking the remaining units.”