The river Wye area’s largest poultry supplier says its supply chain will no longer sell litter from poultry units to be used as fertiliser on fields within the river catchment.

According to a letter from Avara Foods chief executive Andy Dawkins being shared with the area’s poultry farmers today, it will now require its suppliers in the Wye area to sell litter to a third-party firm, Gamber Poultry Litter, who “will find alternative destinations” for it elsewhere.

“Gamber will provide us with full traceability over the sale of your litter, so that we can be confident it is not directly contributing to the problems in the Wye,” his letter says, adding: “We know and understand the likely consequences of our proposals for agriculture in the region.”


The spreading of high-phosphate manure from the area's 20 million-plus chickens onto the region’s fields as fertiliser has been claimed to be a major cause of the nutrient overload in the Wye and its tributaries, leading to algal blooms which are harmful to plants and wildlife.

“The onus is on us to manage our supply chain, set an example for others and to use what influence we have to support change elsewhere in the catchment,” Mr Dawkins goes on to say.

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Avara has committed “to make sure that our supply chain is demonstrably not part of the [phosphate] problem by 2025”, and instead aims to “support sustainable solutions that contribute to circular economies and create additional value from poultry litter”, he writes.

The company is also piloting new assurance standards for “25 to 30” supplier farms in the Wye area wishing to use their poultry litter on their own fields – standards which would then “be a prerequisite for any future sales of litter within the catchment”, Mr Dawkins says.

His letter concludes: “The river will only return to health when everyone discharging phosphate to the land or water changes the way they operate, and when the many other root causes are addressed.”