Ettrick Hen farmers seek consent

The applicants for a retrospective consent to run a free-range hen farm near Ettrick told the Central Otago District Council hearings panel on Tuesday there would be minimal odour arising from farm practices.

The application of Quinten and Bronwynn Pringle for land-use consent to farm up to 2000 hens on their Marsh Rd property was notified to the 49 property owners within 2km of the farm.

Eleven made submissions, nine in support and two opposed.

Stewart and Vanja Bain and Patrick Niederer cited odour as their reason for opposition. Mr Niederer and the Bains mentioned a previous incident in which chicken manure was spread on a dairy farm. This was not done by the Pringles.

"It has a vile smell that lasted for weeks," the Bains' submission said.

They asked, that if consent were granted, for a condition that manure would not be spread within a 2km radius of Ettrick township.

The farm, which has 340 hens and two hen houses, is within 2km of the township but is zoned rural and application of manure is a permitted activity under the Central Otago District Plan.

At the hearing, Anita Dawe, of BTW South Ltd, who prepared the application and evidence for the hearing on behalf of the Pringles, said the floor of the hen houses was lined with wood shavings which acted as a bio-filter to minimise odour.

She said the life of the hens on the farm was about 60 weeks. At the end of that term, the wood shavings and manure were removed from the hen houses then applied to the ground and dug in on the same day in which it was applied, which meant if there was any odour, it would be of short duration.

The Pringles had already done this with no adverse odour effect.

She also noted that the Pringles lived immediately downwind of where the hens would be kept.

Though it was planned to have six hen houses, she said the Pringles planned to stagger the ages of the hens so there would be a gap of about two weeks between each house being cleaned out, which would mean the application of manure would occur only about six times a year.

Mr Pringle said he thought odour could be controlled by management tactics such as taking account of the wind and weather conditions before spreading the manure.

In their application, the Pringles stated they wished to expand to 2000 hens and six hen houses, and sought consent to sell eggs from the property.

Council planning consultant David Whitney recommended the council grant consent subject to 15 conditions, which included that there be no roosters, the Pringles monitor the wood shavings to avoid odour and that no hen manure be spread within 2km of the residential area.

The Pringles accepted monitoring of the wood shavings but asked that the condition be amended to give flexibility to allow change as technology improved.

They also requested the condition relating to where the manure is spread be deleted as that activity did not form part of the application for consent.

The panel reserved its decision.


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