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A Family Affair


No strangers to diversification, the Armstrong family moved into free range egg production in 2010. Support from Noble Foods and Joice and Hill in the early days was a crucial part of the set up process and the relationships are still going strong. 

The Armstrong family have been farming at Newton Stewart for three generations, Kirvennie Farm having been bought by Niall & Graham’s grandfather. The business is now run as a partnership with Graham, Niall and their mother Caroline with support from Graham’s wife Charlotte. Niall has an Agricultural degree and a Nuffield Scholarship whilst Graham has an Engineering degree and a background of project management in renewables. 

The farm used to be primarily sheep and beef, but today, as well as the layers, the farm also has its own dairy herd and state of the art dairy set up, which was built around eighteen months ago.

The 32,000 laying hens operation was started in November 2010. Noble Foods were their packer of choice from the outset– they helped to get them up and running, advising the family whilst they gained experience. Support also came from Joice and Hill, whose ISA Warren layers were the first flock on the farm. The ongoing input they get from these early partners has helped to maintain a good working relationship which continues to the present day. 

“We wanted to make the shed as easy as possible to manage, as we had no previous experience of layers” said Graham. This was part of the reason they opted for the ISA Warren bird. The first flock performed well and the Armstrong’s felt that the bird was robust, reliable and very easy to manage. 

Four flocks of ISA Warren were subsequently placed and all did well, so last year they had to make a decision to try a different breed as the Warren was not available. Remaining loyal to Hendrix Genetics products they opted for the Bovans Brown, which were housed in July 2015. 

The birds were kept until 80 weeks of age, which has worked well this year, with the birds still very well feathered, egg quality excellent and mortality relatively low.

  Production Data at 72 Weeks of Age Production Data at 80 Weeks of Age
Eggs per Bird 318 370.6
Average Egg Weight 62.5g 65.5g
Feed Consumption
118g 115-118g
0.0344 0.044