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Kinswood Impressed with Bovans at 85 Weeks



Kinswood Eggs’ strategy of marketing their own eggs has created a successful family business now into its third generation. Currently farming 320 thousand birds, all in enriched cages at a single Sussex location, the business relies heavily on the exceptional persistency of their Bovans Browns, hatched by Joice and Hill.

Three Generations 

However, it wasn’t always like this. To remain competitive, the business has ridden out enormous changes in egg production techniques – mostly driven by legislation and regulation.

The Kinswood Eggs business was established by Bill and Connie Beckett in 1970. Bill was working for Glaxo as a veterinary rep when he came across Kinswood Farm. It had closed down in 1969 and was not in production, but it had a capacity of 20,000 layers in 7 small sheds, using Dunblane scraper cages.

Bill and Connie bought the farm and in the first year supplied eggs to Thames Valley. After a year or so of being in business they bought a grader and started to market their own eggs. They expanded the Kinswood site and by 1980 had about 90,000 layers all using a deep pit system. 

During the 80s and 90s, a period in which the sector contended with the salmonella crisis, the business grew further. Mark, their son, joined the farm in 1984 after leaving Reading University and they bought a small dairy farm and converted that into a second unit. By the late 1990s Kinswood had approximately 250,000 layers. 

One of the First

At the turn of the century, a period of relative calm in the layer sector came to an end. After the EU voted to ban cages, in 1999, the family built a barn production unit. They then decided to invest in their first enriched colony unit. This was in 2004, even though there was talk of a delay in the cage ban, and it was one of the first installed in the UK. 

A manure store was added in 2009, to cope with the weekly handling of chicken manure and the task of converting all of the units to enriched colonies began. The original Kinswood Site was sold in 2010 and all subsequent investments were concentrated on the one site.   

Also in 2010, Sam, Mark's son, joined the business, having chosen to complete an HND in catering at Chichester College, due to the uncertainty caused by the cage ban. 
Working in partnership with Italian equipment specialist Valli, the work on the laying site was finished in early 2012, in time for the change in production methods.

Bovans is the Breed of Choice

Bovans is the breed of choice for Kinswood at the moment, with about three quarters of their current layers being Bovans. “We like the Bovans ability to lay good quality eggs up to 85 weeks of age, which is now our routine depletion age. Shell quality and good laying persistency both being characteristics of our Bovans flocks” says Mark Beckett.  

Investing in Rearing 

Until about 10 years ago, pullets were reared under contract, for a management fee, in the South East of England. Since then pullets have been bought from CFP and Humphrey's. In 2015, the decision was made to invest in a 32,000 pullet rearing facility. Joice and Hill supplied the first chicks with Kinswood having already ordered the next 3 batches of chicks to follow on. To date, these chicks have reared very well, leading to Sam and Mark considering further investment in rearing. They already have an EA permit in place to allow additional pullet rearing. 

Looking to the Future

Despite many of the new entrants to the market place choosing the free range option the Becketts believe the colony system will remain a popular and profitable way to satisfy the demand for eggs in the UK. Always on the look out for emerging trends Kinswood are awaiting a flock of 10,000 Dekalb White birds -  recognising that there is a growing trend towards white eggs and the better behaviour of white birds such as the Dekalb.