Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Running on eggshells and used cooking oil

There's an interesting article in the latest issue of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Chemical Engineering explaining the 'development of eggshell derived catalyst for transesterification of used cooking oil for biodiesel production'.

One major drawback that prevents commercialization of biodiesel is the high cost of vegetable oil feedstock. In this work, used cooking oil, which is far cheaper than fresh vegetable oil, is used as an alternative raw material. Prior to transesterification reaction, esterification was conducted and catalyzed homogeneously to eliminate free fatty acid. Heterogeneous catalyst derived from cheap and easily obtained egg-shell (industrial waste) was used for transesterification reaction. A 100% ester yield was obtained at the optimized reaction conditions.

What a great use for eggshells.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Study into Newcastle Disease

Research into Newcastle Disease, which is a particularly nasty disease for chickens is being undertaken through a project of the Poultry Co-operative  Research Centre.

The severity of the clinical signs of ND is influenced by the strain of virus and the age, condition and species of the bird. Clinical signs in poultry range from a mild, almost inapparent respiratory disease to a very severe depression, drop in egg production, increased respiration, profuse diarrhoea followed by collapse, or long-term nervous signs (such as twisted necks) if the birds survive. Death rate can be up to 100 per cent in severe (virulent) forms of the disease. The incubation period is usually 5 – 6 days, but can vary from 2 – 15 days.

Strains of ND virus that cause no disease, known as avirulent, low virulence or lentigenic strains, are common in Australian poultry flocks.

Direct sunlight destroys the virus in about 30 minutes.

More details on the CRC website at

Friday, February 08, 2013

Vic Government ignores food safety

We had our food safety inspection by our local council (Bass Coast Shire) Health Officer yesterday and all was well. Our grading room, cool room, delivery and egg handling procedures were all demonstrably OK.

But I couldn't help myself. I referred to the recent post I put up here and how outraged I felt that in Victoria ALL egg sellers are not legally required to record the temperatures at which their eggs are stored.

We do it as a matter of course – we have a detailed Food Safety Programme which is a key part of our operation. Many farms in Victoria don't bother with records which show their temperature control procedures or their egg cleaning methods (and if eggs are dirty there is a farm management problem).

I received an email from Heather Haines, Manager, Evidence Program of FoodSafety Victoria who said “The new Primary Production and Processing standard does not, in fact, specify that eggs should be transported and stored at cool temperatures Although temperature control is not specified in the standard, cool transport and storage of eggs (along with the control of humidity) are recommended in several industry codes of practice and state government, for the reasons you discuss".

I was gobsmacked! It seems that all those clowns who are transporting eggs for many hours or days in unrefrigerated vans are not breaking any laws. As temperature control “is not specified” they can ignore it – and they do. There are heaps of examples of eggs being transported at uncontrolled temperatures for many hours to markets in Melbourne and other places. It maybe be OK in cool conditions – but I am disgusted that the Victorian Government allows it to happen when temperatures higher than specified levels encourage the growth of bacteria and pathogens. Why wait for the problem to kill people!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Plenty of eggs on the farm

Production is going well at present, with a laying rate running at just over 80% with our main flocks. The latest batch of pullets haven't started yet but the flock which is 23 weeks old is at about 60% production.

We are not looking forward to the next bout of hot weather although we have plenty of shade in the paddocks and heaps of ice in the freezer ready to put in the chooks' water.

Demand for eggs is still strong although (thankfully) the tourists have gone home now and we just have to cope with the standard bedlam which seems to rule our lives!

Here's some of our chooks with their Maremma, Ducati. As you can see from the sky, there aren't many clouds about so we are expecting unwelcome temperatures.