A relatively new company – Hatching Plans – is ideally placed to help farmers and land-owners take advantage of the boom in the free range egg industry.

Hatching Plans was only set up this year by Chris Dickinson, an egg producer and former national poultry adviser for the NFU, after realising the huge opportunities the industry offered.

It is a chance to contribute to the increasing demand for free range eggs, and to help dairy or arable farmers who, perhaps, haven’t been making the returns expected over the last five or ten years.

Chris, 32, has brought together an experienced talent base of individuals, from within both agriculture and the wider business community. He says: “In founding Hatching Plans, I am able to share my knowledge and expertise to help the right sort of farmers get into the market, and help to establish their businesses for the future.

“We have an exceptional team that incorporates experts from the free range and poultry industries, along with business professionals who have a wealth of experience in starting and running their own businesses.”

Chris and his team have thought of everything to get someone started in the industry; from helping with setting up, to providing long-term, secure egg offtake agreements.“The free range egg market is a bit of a minefield, but we can help to make it easier,” explains Chris. “We’re the only company that offers bespoke funding to get our clients established in an industry that’s going to secure the rest of their business for many years to come.

“The major agricultural banks have recognised the potential in the poultry market and are keen to lend in this area. They see it as a very safe option, and understand that it is carbon-friendly.

“The free range industry ticks a lot of boxes for the net zero target - planting a significant number of trees will reduce the carbon footprint - while a lot of dairy farmers are going to struggle to reach carbon targets.”

The set-up process is straightforward. It starts with a free, no commitment, on-site visit to assess the suitability of the proposed area. “We’ve been involved in a lot of poultry planning in the past,” Chris explains, “so there will be no time-wasting. We’ll give you an honest answer whether it is worth progressing or not. It’s in no-ones’ interests to push on with something that isn’t going to work.”

Once feasibility has been established, Hatching Plans’ funding partner will carry out a one-to-one financial investigation, before exploring the market to get the best deal.

The company knows the optimum way of building the housing units, and will use their buying power to get the very best discount from suppliers.

They will then set farmers up with long-term, secure egg offtake agreements with reputable egg processors, using their knowledge of what they think is going to be the safest over the next ten years.

“Entering the free range egg market from scratch is very difficult; there are lots of different companies and ideas. We will be here to hold their hand through the whole process.”

Chris says: “I’ve seen how the industry has grown and developed, and I realized there was potential for setting up a company to help to address the increasing demand, as well as offer real sustainability to producers.”