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Farmer to Moy Park scoops award for 'ethical' livestock practices

A supplier to Northern Ireland's top company has won an award for his livestock rearing practices.

Ballyclare poultry farmer Seamus Kane, who is a producer for Moy Park, has won the Northern Ireland Marks & Spencer 'Plan A' award for 2011.

Launched in 2007, Plan A is M&S's five-year 180-point plan to tackle the biggest challenges facing its business.

The scheme honours farmers who help to battle climate change and waste, use sustainable raw materials, and put an emphasis on fairness and health. Mr Kane said that the family farm is his only source of income, so it makes sense to do things sustainably.

His farm near Doagh is now used by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as an example to others as how to raise livestock ethically. He also breeds sheep and beef cattle.

"We do things like reinstate hedgerows and fence off watercourses to encourage wildlife back to the farm," he said.

"We also make sure of high-tech usage of our waste products to help reduce our carbon footprint. From a technological point of view, we try to be paperless and use only computer-based data. Our poultry get access to natural daylight, they have lots of space, and something called 'environmental enrichment' to keep them occupied and stimulated."

He joked: "You know how chickens get bored!"

Mr Kane's premises has already been earmarked as a "high welfare standard" farm by a number of bodies both north and south of the border.

The Plan A awards are made at the five main agricultural shows across the UK - Balmoral Show, The Bath and West Show, The Royal Highland Show, The Great Yorkshire Show and The Royal Welsh Show.

Mr Kane has picked up a prize of £1,000 after securing the Northern Ireland accolade.