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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Cumbrian chicken farmer is face of new McDonald's advert

McDonald's is counting itself McClucky to have a north Cumbrian poultry farmer as the face of its new TV ad.

Stuart Maughan photo
Stuart Maughan

Stuart Maughan and some of his 5,700 Lohmann Brown hens go live tomorrow when the fast food outlet airs its latest advert during prime-time television.

Film bosses had taken photographs of all the suppliers in the area, but were struck by Stuart’s orchard and free-range hens.

“They came here and it was nice and green and they said our hens were in perfect condition, nicely feathered,” said Stuart, whose farm near Ainstable in the Eden Valley is one McDonald's suppliers.

“They came back another day and said they wanted to film the television advert here.”

But the 47-year-old was at first reluctant to be featured on the small screen. So the film crew tried to persuade his dad, Stan, to take part instead.

“They said they wanted a farmer to do the advert, but I said no. When they realised I meant what I said, they wanted my dad to take my place.

“But I caved in under some persuasion from the family,” laughed Stuart.

However, as filming progressed, Stuart found himself enjoying the experience.

“I don’t like having my photograph taken, but the film crew were great. It was a long day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

The crew took several takes with Stuart holding a spade and a young sapling, to show how important planting trees and tree cover is to hens’ welfare and wellbeing.

“I had to walk towards the orchard looking as though I was going to plant another tree,” added Stuart.

Filming later moved to The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, belonging to former RAF pilot David Brass and his wife Helen.

Their business supplies Booths, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and McDonald’s from its own flocks and family farms, mostly within 30 miles of Stainton, near Penrith.

Stuart, whose farm is one of those supplying David’s egg-packing business, was then filmed planting a lime tree.

He added: “The advert lasts for 40 seconds, but I will only actually be featured for around five.

“They don’t actually feature me looking straight into the camera, it’s just side shots, thank goodness.

“The advert’s called ‘Joe the Farmer’.”

Stuart, his wife Wendy, dad Stan and children Andrew and Katie, are all involved in the poultry side of the farm. The family went into egg production in 2003 after their livestock were culled two years previously in the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

“I worked at a hen farm for a year after foot-and-mouth and it was work I enjoyed.

“A farm adviser came to our farm and asked if we would like to go into egg production. We looked at the figures and decided to go ahead.

“Hens are just different animals and they are nicer to work with. They all have their different challenges.”

Stuart’s day starts with taking the temperature of the hen shed and store. He checks the birds’ water and measures how much they have drunk each day. Every egg is counted.

“If there is something wrong with the hens their egg production goes down. I know when all is well when they are clucking. It means they are happy and content,” he said.

Stan reckons each hen produces around 310 eggs in a year. Each evening as dusk falls the hens make their way back into the shed. But if any lag behind Stuart’s three sheepdogs are there to lend a helping hand.

“With so many hens it is hard for me to get them in on my own,” he said. “The dogs are great with them.”

A spokesman for McDonald’s said Stuart was the ‘front man’ for the advert, which forms part of the company’s wider ‘Here’s to What Matters’ campaign, which launched last month.

The spokesman added: “The new TV ad demonstrates how the tree is often ignored, blending into the background of everyday life.

“However, McDonald’s egg farmers realise how much a bit of tree cover matters to their hens, ensuring they feel more comfortable to roam outdoors, and lay the free range eggs, which are cracked in all 1,200 UK restaurants.”

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