Farmer quacks over Cherry Valley chicks

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An Essex egg producer is blaming Cherry Valley of Caistor for scrambling the growth of business.

Ian Chisholm blames the company for supplying too many male ducks, which he says has cost him too much money, forcing him to give thousands of ducks away.

Cherry Valley admits a mix-up with the birds and has offered to compensate the farmer, but he approached the company only recently, after taking the story to the media.

Among the stories Farming UK recently reported that the Chelmsford-based Fair Trade Egg Company ordered day old female ducks, taking delivery of them in June 2013, but by the New Year noted more than 11 per cent of them were male.

“As we had our set-up arranged for egg production, it has caused a larger than expected mortality, by the drakes over-mating females and killing them. This is not what we expected. The cost of keeping and feeding the male population has led us into a very heavy loss making exercise and more mortality in females,” he said.

In August, it was reported that Ian Chisholm was giving away 3,000 of the ducks, saying he could not afford to keep them. Again, he blamed Cherry Valley for 450 of 4,000 ducks being male, which was costing him lost egg production, as well as major feed bills. He put the losses at £70,000.

It was reported he was considering legal action against Cherry Valley, saying they had offered him inadequate compensation for his losses.

The Rasen Mail tried unsuccessfully to contact Ian Chisholm about the problem, but Cherry Valley was able to respond.

Managing Director John Vernam blamed a box of males being mixed in with the delivery, but says nothing was said about the issue, even though you can tell ducks and drakes apart at four weeks of age. “We did not hear anything from him until they were in lay,” he said.

Cherry Valley went to Essex and took the males some weeks ago and refunded Mr Chisholm, but he has chosen to publicise the issue.

“We collected the birds and asked him for an evidence statement of loss. We are still waiting for that,” Mr Vernam said.

“We are doing our best to recompense him for any losses (but) we are not prepared to be held responsible for things not of our doing.

“The whole issue is with our solicitor. Our solicitor is talking to his solicitor about reaching a fair end point.

“We are a genuine business, over 50 years old. We try and behave with people in a genuine way. We are trying to make sure this is fairly resolved,” he said.