ROGER Gill, agriculture director at The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, near Penrith, has beaten off stiff competition from 28 nominees to win the ‘outstanding contribution to animal welfare’ category, in RSPCA Assured’s first-ever awards for pig and poultry members.

Mr Gill said: “You look after her and she will look after you.

It’s an attitude that guides Roger and his whole ethos to farming.

Every day is a school day for Roger who started his career in dairy farming before moving into poultry. He prides himself on constantly challenging how things are done and how they can be improved. During his time at The Lakes, which has more than 1.8 million birds, Roger has been at the forefront of innovation.

David Brass, chief executive of The Lakes, said: “In his time with us, Roger has been instrumental in turning scientific research into commercially viable high welfare systems. “One example is the ‘Dark Brooding’ system where pullets are much more active and better feathered, while reducing rearing mortality by 60 percent and energy use by 85 percent. Invariably Roger goes that extra mile. He has an insatiable appetite to improve the lives of the birds, treading a fine line between better physical performance, better welfare and economic performance.”

RSPCA Assured’s independent panel of judges was also impressed by Roger’s pioneering of the planting of 230 thousand trees on more than 6,000 acres. Many of these trees are now maturing, absorbing Co2 and reducing the Lakes carbon footprint. Roger said: I’m really proud to be recognised for the work I, together with my colleagues, have done over the years. I’ve got a great team around me.”