Plans for an $800,000 commercial poultry farm of up to 10,000 chickens in East End have been approved, despite concerns about the method of farming intended for the site.
The farm would rear chickens primarily for eggs, according to paperwork filed with the Central Planning Authority.
Toepaz Chicken Farms made the application for the development on a two-acre site off Farm Road, East End. The Department of Environment had raised animal welfare concerns about the style of farming envisioned, suggesting “crowded, enclosed coops” did not keep with Cayman’s growing “farm to table” reputation and could attract criticism locally and internationally.
The application includes two large chicken houses, an office building, an egg processing building, litter composter and water tower.
It is not clear if the farm intends to provide the local market or to develop an export operation.
Documents filed with the CPA suggest the farm would primarily be an egg-rearing facility, aiming to produce up to 10,000 eggs each day – one egg per chicken.
Up to 700 “non-productive” chickens would be culled during an 18-month production cycle, the documents indicate.
The Department of Environment, in its submission to the Central Planning Authority, raised concerns about the type of farming envisioned in the proposal.
“We are concerned that there is the potential for ethical and/or animal welfare issues to arise,” the department stated. “Although we acknowledge that animal welfare is outside of the remit of the DoE, we do note that the chicken farm proposal contradicts growing trends of free-range and pasture-raised practices ….
“Furthermore, the Cayman Islands appears to be progressively moving towards a farm-to-table style approach to sustainable farming practices, and the proposed farm outlined in this planning application appears to be in conflict with this movement. The DoE is concerned that the approval and implications of farms of this nature will be opening the Cayman Islands up to criticism both locally and internationally.”
The department also raised concerns about the prospect of chickens getting loose after a storm and contributing to the island’s feral chicken problems.
Concerns were also raised by the Water Authority about the potential impact on the East End water lens. The application was initially adjourned by the CPA for a waste management plan to be devised.
“Chicken farms, like other animal farms, pose a high risk of surface and groundwater contamination from pollutants contained in the wastes generated. The Water Authority requires that this development proposes a waste management plan that protects the East End fresh water lens from any impacts,” the Water Authority wrote in its initial analysis.
After consultation with the developer, the authority agreed to an outline waste management plan for the site. The developer will be required to submit more detailed proposals and obtain Water Authority approval before a building permit can be approved.