Friday, December 15, 2017
The stocking density of any farm animals is a critical factor in the long term sustainability of farmland. With chickens, the maximum stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare was established by the industry, academics, politicians and bureaucrats when they prepared the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry). Nutrients and trace elements in manure can accumulate in the soil, making it toxic for vegetation as well as polluting ground and surface water. A laying hen produces half a cubic metre of manure a year. So with a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare approved by Ministers for Consumer Affairs, farmers who follow their advice will see their land covered with 5000 cubic metres of manure per hectare every year. As chicken manure has the highest amount of nitrogen,phosphorus, and potassium of all manures, it will likely render the land useless for farming within a few years. Contamination of groundwater and water courses is also likely.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
We are heading into our busy holiday season, with tourists flocking to Philip Island for Christmas and New Year. So we knows we won ‘t be able to keep up with the excessive demand – but we will do our best. We will be able to meet the requirements of our regular shops and restaurants – but we certainly won’t be able to meet new orders even though the hens are laying well and we have a new flock of Isa Browns arriving just prior to Christmas.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Proposed changes to farm planning regulations in Victoria, and the national decision by Ministers for Consumer Affairs to allow a huge stocking density of 10,000 chickens per hectare on free range farms has led to a strong increase in the number of people thinking about starting their own free range egg business. A good starting point is reading the eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website: "www.freeranger.com.au When you decide to set up a free range egg farm, take the time to plan it properly. Find out the zoning of the land and talk to your local Council planning department about their requirements. It’s also worth contacting the State Department of Agriculture. You can find on-line resources in most states. In Victoria, contact: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/farm-management/business-management/permits/guidelines-for-rural-planning-applications. Once that is sorted, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have before you get underway.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Our gate sales are still going extremely well.Each week they add up to as many or more than we used to sell at markets. Hopefully the yellow cool box inside our front gate will continue to be popular over the summer months as we will have plenty of eggs. A new flock of Isa Brown pullets arrive just before Christmas so they will be in full lay by the middle of January. The cool box is stocked every day and the eggs are available anytime, day or night. Anyone needing a special order (multiple dozens, eggs on trays or specific sizes) just send us an email or ring and we will package your order in the box.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Political dithering over hen welfare and the definition of free range shows the high level of incompetence displayed by politicians and bureacrats. Rather than dream up a raft of new legislation and standards, simply enshrine into law The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry). Development of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Domestic Poultry 4th Edition, When the current version of the Code was approved by the Primary Industries Ministerial Council and printed in 2002, it was scheduled for review in 2010. It was a development of an earlier version of the Model Code. It is essential for the free range sector of the egg industry to ensure that intensive production standards tare not adopted in place of the extensive requirements of the current code. There has been no science behind high density free range proposals (other than the certainty of increased profits. No scientific review of production processes has been undertaken to demonstrate that the standards contained within the current voluntary Model Code are no longer applicable to the industry. The stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare for free range hens was developed by applying well established principles of agronomy. The issue of the upper limit on the long term stocking rate was debated strongly at the time, following pressure from local Councils and the EPA about how some farms were operating. Experience was taken into account of people who had farmed free range layers in the 1950’s and 60's, when all egg production was based on free range principles. Hens were often run under citrus trees It was recognised that for an operation to be sustainable, the stocking rate had to be low - less than 300 birds/acre (750/hectare). It was agreed that such a system should be regarded as Free Range egg production and the hens were to have access to the range during daylight hours. There was some dispute by new entrants to the industry who believed that they could design pasture rotation systems around their sheds that would allow higher rates. So it was decided to take an empirical approach and work out what the maximum stocking rate could be to avoid the measurable negative impacts of nutrient run off and soil degradation and still be theoretically possible to maintain pasture cover and avoid the issue of dust. Some argued that as most hens were in sheds at night and may be locked in for part of the day so that only a portion of the hens actually entered the range area at any one time, the impact was lessened. The dairy industry was very big at that time and local agronomists had data on the effects of applying very high rates of poultry manure on irrigated pasture. The agronomists studied the data on the maximum nutrient uptake a well maintained irrigated pasture could support and also avoid the problems of salinity build up observed in the dairy pastures. The stocking rate was calculated and a stocking density of up to 600 birds/acre (1500/hectare) was regarded as the maximum possible for long term sustainability. At the time the Code was approved, it was accepted that to maintain consumer credibility, visitors or passers-by had to see the birds out and about on the range. It was also accepted that there is no valid animal management need to lock in the layers in the morning or during inclement weather. Those currently involved in free range egg production agree that the fundamental elements of the Model Code, or other regulations introduced by Governments should be: a maximum stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare; stocking density must be reduced in conditions where pasture or other vegetative cover cannot be maintained at the maximum stocking density; no beak trimming of hens is permitted except when other methods of controlling outbreaks of severe feather pecking or cannibalism have been tried and failed (using the same criteria in the current Model Code); and pullets must be allowed to range freely once they are fully feathered (about six weeks old).
Tuesday, December 05, 2017
The International Egg Commission (IEC) has developed a Practical Biosecurity Check List designed to help egg businesses improve their overall biosecurity. The comprehensive Biosecurity Check List is freely available to the egg industry. It provides practical guidelines for egg farmers and producer businesses, to help reduce the risk of infection. The guide can downloaded here:http://1pfp2yazjqr27ku7g3h8zwwx-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/IEC-BIO-BROCHURE-FINAL-11.09.17.pdf or from https://www.internationalegg.com/iec-avian-influenza-expert-groups-new-practical-biosecurity-check-list-is-available-to-download/ Details are also on the Freeranger Club member downloads page of the Freeranger Eggs website http://www.freeranger.com.au/
Monday, December 04, 2017
Intensive egg production facilities dominate in Australia but there's still a place for traditional free range family farms
The increasing scale of large, intensive egg production facilities is demonstrated in this article published by Poultry Hub.There are now very few traditional free range farms left in Australia because of Government red tape and pressure from big business.Only the massive corporate businesses have sufficient volumes to meet the requirements of major supermarkets - so it's a waste of time looking in supermarkets if people want genuine free range eggs. In Australia, the chicken layer industry, or egg industry, is an important intensive animal production system. The egg industry has displayed strong growth over the past decade due to rising per capita consumption of eggs (a little over 200 eggs per year/person). Egg is considered as an alternative source of protein to meat. Eggs have four broad production types: cage, free-range, barn-laid and organic. Backyard egg production is also common in Australia and is closely tied in with Australians fondness of poultry. Over the past five years, there has been increasing demand for free range eggs due to welfare issues in cage egg production system. Free-range egg production system allows hens to roam freely over a greater area, including outdoors. The industry is gradually moving from cage egg production system to free-range egg production system in Australia. Chicken eggs and egg products have traditionally been, and still are, a popular part of the human diet. The egg is formed in the reproductive organs of the female chicken. Most commercial strains of hen can lay over 260 eggs per year and some improved breeds can lay over 300 eggs in a year – this is almost an egg every day. It is not necessary for a hen to mate with a rooster before she can produce an egg. Modern types of hen have been bred so that they will lay even if there is no chance of producing a chick. Layer chicks are sexed and the females are sold as future layers and the males are humanely killed. Production of eggs to meet Australian demand Eggs are collected as soon as possible after being laid and are held in cool storage to protect internal quality. Farmers check eggs for quality using a special lighting (candling) system. Cracked or weak-shelled eggs and other abnormal eggs are discarded. A sample of each batch of collected eggs is checked for internal quality and freshness. The eating value of eggs has long been recognised. An egg contains 12% shell (which is not eaten), however the remainder of the egg is a mix of protein, energy, minerals and vitamins. This means that eggs are a highly nutritious food that forms part of a good mixed diet. Eggs contain the substance cholesterol, which has been seen in the past as an undesirable characteristic. However, this issue has been simplified as there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ forms of cholesterol and eggs have been shown to increase the ‘good’ form of cholesterol in the blood of people who consume eggs (Djousse and Gaziano (2008) AJCN, 87(4):964-969). Reports suggest that consumption of eggs everyday is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. Eggs also contain many other beneficial fats and amino acids. Some producers have marketed specialty eggs which are fat modified (omega-3 enriched). This is done by feeding hens on a specially selected diet. Systems used to produce eggs The farmer who produces eggs is commonly referred to as an egg producer. Extensive Back yard layers There was once a time when every farm and many suburban households had a few chooks scavenging in the yard, getting some household scraps, and sometimes getting a handful of wheat each day. This method of farming is called extensive. The number of these farms decreased as intensive farming methods developed, allowing one person to care for large numbers of birds. Semi-intensive Until the 1950s, commercial egg producers had a few hundred to a few thousand hens housed in a shed with access to a yard surrounded by a 2 m high wire netting fence to keep foxes away. These were called semi-intensive farms and were often located in country areas close to the source of feed ingredients, especially wheat. Similar semi-intensive farms of a few thousand birds had become popular on the outskirts of major cities by the middle of the 1950s. This location was favoured because it was closer to the city market, where most eggs were sold. Intensive Intensive production means large numbers of animals are kept in a small area. With the introduction of layer Free-range can still be intensive cages in the 1960s, farms became more intensive and larger flocks, up to 15,000 birds, became common. In 1979, there were 3200 layer farms in Australia but by 1986 this number had reduced to 1700. A few very large farms, with up to 100,000 birds, developed in the 1970s. Today some farms have over 500,000 hens in multiple level sheds.
Monday, November 27, 2017
Animal Health Australia has invited public submissions on new welfare standards for chickens.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
the 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security:Global Challenges, Local Solutions and Connected Pathways,is being held in Cape Town, South Africa from December 3 -6. Freeranger eggs believes that food security is best achieved by encouraging networks of small-scale, sustainable farming enterprises. Every village or township around the world could be supplied by its own egg farm as well as suitable crop production. There is a huge untapped demand from consumers for eggs To help meet this shortage, crowd funding is being sought by Freeranger Eggs to develop webinars, to help people establish free range farms which meet consumer expectations, without having to travel for hours to a farm workshop The webinars, together with an eBook will provide all the tools needed to set up a successful free range business. help the crowd funding appeal here
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Before the Second World War, most egg production came from farm flocks of less than 400 hens. By the early 1960s, new technologies and the development of sophisticated mechanical equipment designed to increase profits, produced a fundamental change from small farm flocks to large industrial-scale operations.In Australia there were over 3000 egg producers in 1980. The number shrank to 1700 by the mid ‘80’s and now there are less than 1000 – mostly intensive industrial-scale producers. There are probably less than 100 genuine free range egg farmers left in this country. For major egg producers flocks of 100,000 laying hens are common, and some have flocks of more than a million. Because of inept political decisions in Australia, some intensive producers are able to label their eggs as free range. There are still a few traditional free range producers around, such as us at Freeranger Eggs.
Wednesday, November 08, 2017
Research into the nutritional requirements for poultry is being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences in the US..The study will examine requirements for digestible phosphorus and amino acids and examine new information about nutrient metabolism and utilization. It will provide a review of nutritional and feeding strategies to minimise nutrient excretion. A discussion of the effect of feeding on the nutritional quality of poultry meat and eggs will be included. Effects of the environment, feed management, and other production aspects on nutrient requirements, including antibiotics and their alternatives, will be addressed.. We hope that the findings will demonstrate that nutrients derived from pasture make a considerable contribution to the diet of hens. The last research by NAS on poultry nutritional requirements was in 1994.
Saturday, November 04, 2017
Mobile sheds are ideal roosting and laying houses for free range hens. They can be moved regularly onto fresh pasture.It doesn't make much difference if the sheds are on wheels or skids - wheels make them easy to manoeuvre but the advantage of skids is - no punctures. We normally run four or five different flocks of 200 -300 birds. Our eBook details the process for setting up a small-scale free range egg farm which meets all consumer expectations as well as the red tape imposed by regulations.
Monday, October 30, 2017
Intensive farming operations are able to produce more food at lower costs - that's why food such as eggs from hens on genuine free range farms can be more expensive than the type typically bought in supermarkets. Many producers - even some who call themselves 'free range' have installed lighting in laying sheds to increase short-term production - and profits. There are no lights in our sheds,so at Freeranger Eggs, our hens follow their normal life rhythms - sleeping when it gets dark then waking up at daybreak.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Major Australian egg producers may be able to sell eggs in South Africa following new cases of avian influenza in that country. Since June when the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was discovered, an estimated 15 percent of the country’s layer flock has succumbed to the disease, and the authorities are considering the need for future egg imports.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
The importance of providing clean drinking water for laying has been highlighted by a British veterinary poultry specialist. Dr Ian Lowery found that dirty water lines could cost egg producers eight per cent in lost production and result in higher bird mortality, He found that performance fell in hens drinking water that contained high levels of bacteria and other contaminants.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
The cost of complying with a range of national and state regulations adds at least 20% to the cost of eggs in Australia and it’s much the same in Europe where complying with European Union legislation adds, on average, an extra 16 percent to the cost of egg production.. Here, legitimate egg farmers are required to meet stringent planning regulations as well as food safety , packaging and labelling laws, while some operators are completely exempt from regulations. This results in unfair competition with many thousands of eggs sold to unsuspecting consumers. Those eggs from non-compliant producers, meet no food safety standards and present a severe health risk to families.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
The Australian poultry industry is in turmoil over conflicting regulations by Government departments. Victoria State planners overturned a decision by Ministers for Consumer Affairs who caved in to industry demands that intensive poultry farms should be allowed to describe their eggs as free range. Proposed changes to Victoria's planning laws demonstrate the incompetence of Ministers for Consumer Affairs who approved an outdoor stocking density of 10,000 chickens per hectare for free range egg production. But the proposed change to a maximum of 450 hens over an entire property is absurd. Under the changes, permits will not be required for back-yard egg producers with up to 200 chickens and hobby farmers with less than 450 hens. The new planning reforms seem to suggest that genuine egg farmers aiming to make a living will now have to obtain permits for an activity that was regarded by most planning officers as an 'as of right' use on land in a farming zone. Far from improving the concept of a 'right to farm' the changes will have a negative impact on farmers. The planning changes amount to an assault on free range farming. Please help us to change the Government’s mind by signing this petition.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
The Freeranger Eggs farm at Grantville is an example of sustainable farming. The farm management plan takes a three pillars approach to how the farm operates. Animal welfare is one pillar, but equally important are land sustainability and food safety. Despite all the political bickering in Canberra over emissions trading scheme targets, some small businesses have been playing their part in addressing the problem. Freeranger Eggs in Victoria has been getting on with mitigating the impact of carbon emissions. The farm's carbon footprint is limited by imposing a food miles policy for deliveries, using recycled materials and equipment whenever possible, utilising solar power and mechanical processes and an effective waste reduction programme. As a result, the 1200-chicken farm generates only about 60 tonnes of CO2 each year. But it is better than carbon neutral, it is carbon positive. The average organic matter in soil tests was 4.1 per cent in 2004, in 2006 it was 6.0 per cent, and in 2009 it was 7.9 percent. Calculations based on 2-inch deep samples, show that over those five years the farm sequestered about 14 tons of CO2 per acre or four tonnes of carbon per acre on the grasslands. Further testing and calculations have not been carried out because there has been a total lack of interest in the results. The farm applies no chemical fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides and this policy increases the biological life in the soil and increases the rate of carbon sequestration. Rotational grazing is practised on the pastures – taking advantage of photosynthesis to pull CO2 into the plants and then into the roots from where it transfers to the soil. In addition, every year at least another tonne of CO2 per acre continues to be sequestered by the regrowth of Kangaroo Apples (Solanum laciniatum) in the main paddocks. Native vegetation has been protected on approximately 100 acres of the property and regeneration there sequesters a further tonne of CO2 per acre. This brings a grand total of 1500 tonnes of CO2 sequestered on this property over five years – an average rate of 300 tonnes per year compared with the farm's carbon output of around 60 tonnes. On days of full sun the solar panels on the farm shed generate 13 - 17kW of electricity a day and as on average the farm consumes just 9kW a day it helps the bottom line. Freeranger Eggs gained international recognition in 2012 as the Australian winner of the Energy Globe Award.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Friday October 13 is World Egg Day, established by the International Egg Commission. We hope it will result in donations to our crowd funding appeal to set up webinars on establishing genuine free range egg farms. People need every encouragement to set up low density free range farms to meet consumer demands. Details at https://www.gofundme.com/2tar52cThere is growing consumer demand for eggs -particularly the free range variety which is why corporate producers label their eggs as free range. To celebrate World Egg Day, egg lovers across Australia have revealed their favourite ways to eat them. Eggs are a popular choice – 93 per cent of Australian households eat eggs with 63 per cent describing themselves as egg lovers. Eggs aren’t just a weekend treat, with 51 per cent consumed on a weekday, highlighting just how versatile they are as a meal option.
Friday, October 06, 2017
Our hens are laying well and the excellent level of production means that we are easily meeting our regular orders.A new monthly market at Corinella starts next Saturday (Oct !4), the day after World Egg Day and as Corinella is just down the road, we will be there with a full selection of eggs. including dozens of our huge Megga Eggs (950g packs). Our new flock has just started laying so we will also have some pullet eggs for those who like small eggs.
Thursday, October 05, 2017
The Canadian Province of British Columbia has introduced standards for free range egg farms which show just how pathetic the regulations are which were introduced by our Ministers for Consumer Affairs. The standards in Australia are loose and have no audit or enforcement mechanism.Click here for details in Canada
Sunday, October 01, 2017
Proposed changes to farm planning regulations in Victoria, and the decision by Ministers for Consumer Affairs to allow a huge stocking density of 10,000 chickens per hectare on free range farms has not daunted newcomers to the industry. There has been a strong increase in the number of enquiries from people thinking about starting their own free range egg business. A good starting point is reading an eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website: www.freereanger.com.au When deciding to set up a free range egg farm, take the time to plan properly. Find out the zoning of the land and talk to your local Council planning department about their requirements. It’s also worth contacting the State Department of Agriculture. You can find on-line resources in most states. In Victoria, contact: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/farm-management/business-management/permits/guidelines-for-rural-planning-applications. At an early stage in the process, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Proposed changes to Victoria's planning laws will mean that permits will not be required for back-yard egg producers with up to 200 chickens and hobby farmers with less than 450 hens. The new planning reforms seem to suggest that genuine egg farmers aiming to make a living will now have to obtain permits for an activity that was regarded by most planning officers as an 'as of right' use on land in a farming zone. The announcement overturns a decision by Ministers for Consumer Affairs to allow intensive stocking densities on free range farms of up to 10,000 hens per hectare. Under the new permit conditions, the limit will be a maximum of 450 hens.Full details about the changes Victoria's Planning for Sustainable Animal Industries can be found on the Freeranger Club's downloads page of the freeranger website.Politicians did the egg industry no favours by caving in to pressure from big businesses and allowing farms with outdoor stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare to be classified as 'free range. New Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry are being prepared by Animal Health Australia. They could conflict with the decision by Ministers for consumer affairs on densities. This could lead to intervention by the Federal Court. In addition to welfare issues. there are planning problems with the political stocking density decision. In Victoria regulations define Intensive animal husbandry:" as “Land used to keep or breed farm animals, including birds, by importing most food from outside the enclosures. Which means that such properties will be treated as Lot feeding operations and permits are likely to be refused. The proposed changes to planning laws in Victoria go even further and new permits will impose a maximum of 450 hens per property.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Genuine low-density free range farms do not increase the risk of outbreaks of avian influenza. A leading poultry vet has said that the two most recent outbreaks in Australia were on intensive farms with high stocking densities. In an article by Dr George Arzey in the January Poultry Digest,he said that the two outbreaks in New South Wales in 2012 and 2013 were in intensive 'free range' flocks of 50,000 hens and 160,000. “The transformation of avian influenza viruses to highly pathogenic viruses is more likely in large flocks,” he said.In earlier published work he said "It is apparent from studies that differences in the disease profile of hens in different housing systems may be encountered and that viral respiratory diseases are less likely to be encountered in small free range flocks than in intensive flocks.
Monday, September 11, 2017
Contamination of eggs in europe with insecticide residues has led to concerns that similar contamination could be happening in Australia. Fipronil is an insecticide which is commonly used as an active ingredient for flea, mite and other pest control. Based on Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code,this country allows a Residue Limit (MRL) of 0.02mg per kg.
Friday, September 08, 2017
The judgement by Federal Court Justice J Siopis in the case of WA egg business,Snowdale Holdings over deceptive conduct in labelling eggs as free range, could open up many more major egg producers to prosecution, despite ridiculous amendments to consumer law approved by Ministers for Consumer Affairs. The eggs which Snowdale sold and promoted as free range eggs during the relevant period came from laying hens that were housed in four industrial sized structures which were referred to during the proceedings as “barns” or “sheds” Snhowdale was fined $750,000 and ordered to pay $300,000 costs. In his judgement, Justice Siopis said:”In my view, the class of consumers to whom the representations on the cartons, website and poster were addressed were purchasers and potential purchasers of eggs from retail stores and supermarkets. I find that the members of that class would include a significant number of persons who were concerned about the welfare of laying hens and the conditions in which they were kept, and who would be motivated by that concern to seek out eggs labelled as “free range eggs” and would be prepared to pay more to buy those eggs. I also find the following to be the relevant context in which the impugned conduct is to be considered. The Snowdale egg cartons with the impugned labels are placed on the shelves in a store or supermarket in a manner visible to consumers. The statement on the Snowdale egg carton labels that the eggs are “free range eggs” is there to differentiate those eggs from the other categories of eggs which are also available for sale to consumers. These categories would include eggs laid by uncaged hens and sold as “cage free” or as “barn laid”. This differentiation between the categories of eggs also finds expression in the premium price that is charged by retailers for free range eggs. Contrary to Snowdale’s submissions, I find that, in that context, an ordinary or reasonable consumer would have regard to the term “free range eggs” on the egg cartons, when making a decision whether to purchase eggs labelled as “free range eggs”, rather than the other available categories of eggs.” He went on to say “The label chosen by Snowdale for the Swan Valley Egg Co carton (Annexure 2), also, reflects a hen roaming freely in a spacious and benign outdoors environment. There is on that label the picture of a single hen roaming in a spacious and luxuriant green field stretching all the way to the horizon, with no other object in sight. 199. There is no suggestion in the images and get up used on any of the Snowdale egg carton labels that the laying hens are, in fact, housed in steel industrial style sheds about 100 m long and that the hens in those sheds would have to compete with another 12,000 or 17,000 other hens, as the case may be, before the hen could even exit the shed to enter an open range.”
Friday, September 01, 2017
Animal health authorities in the Philippines believe that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in poultry has been brought under control. There have been high-level discussions with the poultry industry in South Africa on how to tackle the worsening disease situation there. Veterinary agencies have also confirmed new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in commercial poultry in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. Our relative isolation in Australia reduces the likelihood of infections here, but with approval for high density free range poultry farms, politicians have created a time bomb if an outbreak does occur.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Thursday, August 17, 2017
It's a pity that the current Senate inquiry into farm gate milk prices isn't extended to also cover the treatment of farmers in the egg industry. Political interference in the definition of free range eggs has created a massive platform for consumer deception and unfair competition. Ministers for Consumer Affairs got it wrong when they allowed an intensive stocking density for free range egg production. The Model Code of Practice recommended a maximum outdoor density of 1500 hens per hectare but the Ministers approved a density of 10,000 hens without taking account of planning laws which treat intensive farming operations as feed lots with restrictive planning regulations. They also ignored rulings by Federal Court justices in cases of deceptive conduct over egg labelling. False assertions were made by major players in the egg industry that no maximum stocking density was set in the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry). The industry cobbled together an amended code which they peddled as the real thing and claimed that it showed no maximum stocking density. They included in the main body of their version of the code, an edited item from the Appendix which they said allowed unlimited stocking densities. The actual Appendix states at 2.1.4 “The maximum acceptable densities for free range birds For layer hens a maximum of 1500 hens per hectare.” Then it refers to meat birds.”Meat chickens, a proportionately higher stocking density than for layers may be used.” The intent is crystal clear but in their dodgy version of the code, the industry left out all references to ‘meat birds’. The plan was clearly designed to deceive Ministers and con them into accepting that the Model Code did not establish a maximum stocking density and to accept their arguments and those of the major supermarkets for a 10,000 hen per hectare density. The Senate could trawl through all the deception and bring some certainty to farmers and consumers.
Monday, August 07, 2017
intensive 'free range' law comes into effect on April 18 unless Federal Court intervenes or politicians see sense
Unless politicians change their minds ( or the Federal Court changes them), the ridiculous new labelling regulations for free range eggs will come into effect on April 18, 2018 – a year and a day after the Government published the new information standard allowing an outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare. We have asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to test the validity of the intensive'free range' standard endorsed by politicians. A stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare is completely unsustainable and well outside the limits of acceptability by consumers or farmers. We forwarded the report by Melbourne University into the issue.
Thursday, August 03, 2017
There is huge demand in this country for more free range eggs, but consumers know that they can't trust labels on eggs found in supermarkets, especially after politicians approved a high density stocking rate which allows families to be ripped-off. Everyone can help to establish more genuine, small scale free range egg farms by supporting a programme of webinars demonstrating all the processes involved. The webinars will encourage hundreds more farms to be established all over Australia. Freeranger Eggs in South Gippsland and the Freeranger Club have run workshops in the past, but the webinars will reach far more potential egg farmers. The preparation of the webinars is being supporting by a crowd funding appeal. To help, click here
Thursday, July 27, 2017
A report by Melbourne University in the Journal of Rural Studies shows how big producers in the egg industry pushed politicians to agree to the definition of 'free range' that suited their intensive businesses. Australia’s egg industry was able to “capture” the development of the national information standard, ensuring that “free range” was legally defined as industrial-scale free range, with the tacit support of Australia’s two dominant retailers, who had already set standards for “free range” eggs, which underpinned the industry’s proposed definition. The new national standard may still be tested in court as it does not meet findings in previous decisions by Federal Court judges, and may also breach planning laws which treat intensive animal husbandry as feedlots. Consumer Ministers have egg on their faces over their 'free range' decision. Ministers for Consumer Affairs got it wrong when they allowed an intensive stocking density for free range egg production. The Model Code of Practice recommended a maximum outdoor density of 1500 hens per hectare but the Ministers approved a density of 10,000 hens without taking account of planning laws which treat intensive farming operations as feed lots with restrictive planning regulations. They also ignored rulings by Federal Court justices in cases of deceptive conduct over egg labelling. The issue could be taken to court for a ruling.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
A West Australian egg producer has to pay more than a million dollars after the Federal court revealed the penalty for selling eggs which were falsely labelled as free range Snowdale Holdings was found guilty more than a year ago but the penalty of $750,000 plus $300,000 costs has just been announced. The action was brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which said that the company sold 71% of its eggs as free range even though half the chickens on various properties probably never left their sheds This penalty is big enough to worry many dodgy producers who risk prosecution despite political attempts to protect them.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Public consultation on new welfare standards to replace the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals, Domestic Poultry is expected to begin within two months. Animal Health Australia has been preparing the new standards for over a year, in consultation with a variety of major interest groups. Details are at http://www.animalwelfarestandards.net.au/poultry this is part of the submission we will make to AHA: Chickens need to be allowed to follow their normal behaviour rather than be confined. Modern domestic chickens have the same characteristics and habits as the Red Jungle Fowl from which they descended. The Red Jungle Fowl range in small groups on the forest floor. They forage on the ground for seeds, fruit and insects, using their feet to scratch away leaf litter when searching for food. From animal behaviour website https://www.animalbehaviour.net/poultry On modern intensive cage egg laying properties,.chickens are kept in groups of 3–10 birds in cages with space allowances of 350-600 sq cm per bird(Mench and Keeling, 2001). Stocking densities vary around the world, 350 sq cm on average in the United States, to as high as 700-800 sq cm in Norway and Switzerland (Savage, 2000). Meat chicken sheds. These hold from 10,000–70,000 meat birds, housed on litter in either semi-enclosed or environmentally closed houses. Stocking densities vary from 30–50 kg live weight per square metre (Mench and Keeling, 2001). The social organisation differs in these systems but pecking orders emerge.In cages, there is a definite hierarchy established by pecking and threatening when the hens are placed in the cage, usually a few weeks before laying commences The social order in broiler flocks is relatively unimportant as they are generally processed at an age when the establishment of social stratification is just beginning (Siegel, 1984). Laying hens have complex interrelationships involving social rank, aggression, feeding behaviour and egg production (Mench and Keeling, 2001). In large groups kept together for some months, subgroups form and become restricted to an area. This means that birds can recognise their own group members and those of an overlapping territory. It was suggested that this territorial behaviour is important in large flocks as it reduces the numbers of conflicts when strangers meet (McBride and Foenander, 1962). It has also been shown that individuals are more dominant in the area where they spend most time. Thus in larger flocks, hens tend to live in neighbourhoods where they are well-acquainted (Craig and Guhl, 1969). Laying hens choose to feed close to each other when given a choice of feeding locations, which demonstrates the importance of social attraction (Meunier- Salaun and Faure, 1984). Hens that are in the same cage and in neighbouring cages synchronise their feeding. Chickens show socially facilitated feeding, in particular, they peck more at feed when they have company than when alone (Keeling and Hurink, 1996). Caged birds may exhibit some abnormal behaviour such as head flicks and feather pecking, i.e., pecking and pulling the feathers of other birds (Mench and Keeling, 2001). Feather-pecking may be a form of redirected ground pecking (Blokhuis, 1989). Experience in early life with ground pecking may influence pecking behaviour in later life (Blokhuis, 1991). The motivation for the redirection of ground-pecking happens when the incentive value of the ground is low, compared with the incentive value of pecking substrates (Bindara, 1969). In high-density situations, the birds and feathers make up a higher proportion of stimuli relative to the litter area. It is possible that the birds may perceive the feathers as dust and that may cause a redirection of ground pecking to feather-pecking (Hansen and Braastad,1994).
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The Australian Egg Corporation (Australian Eggs) is holding workshops for the egg industry around the country. Subjects being covered include: Hen behaviour and beak treatment Egg Standards in Australia Salmonella intervention strategies and egg washing Water quality and biosecurity Workshops will be held in Penrith NSW on August 1, Yass on September 5 and Taree on September 7, Geelong in Victoria on July 27 and Attwood on August 29 South Perth WA on September 19 Roseworthy SA on November 2.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
The major Australian supermarkets, Coles, Woolworths and Aldi are taking advantage of consumers, thanks to Ministers for Consumer Affairs allowing intensively produced eggs to be labelled as 'free range'. After caving-in to corporate lobbyists, the Ministers allowed eggs produced on intensive, industrial-scale facilities to be sold as free range. In the supermarkets, customers may as well buy the cheapest eggs available, because they are all basically the same.There is no point in looking on supermarket shelves if anyone wishes to buy genuine free range eggs- the labels are meaningless. Buy them direct from a farm that you know. The big retailers make a killing whatever you buy.They are great place to buy household items like toilet paper, toothpaste, washing powder and soap - but it's a mystery why anyone buys fresh food there. Food is usually better value at butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers etc.
Sunday, July 09, 2017
The stocking density of farm animals is a critical factor in the long term sustainability of farmland. With chickens, the maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare was established by the industry, academics, politicians and bureaucrats when they prepared the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry). Nutrients and trace elements in manure accumulate in the soil, making it toxic for vegetation and polluting ground and surface water.
Friday, July 07, 2017
If politicians take any notice of the Productivity Commission, they may scrap the requirement for stamping eggs. Some of the absurdities of the regulation are that not all eggs are stamped, some are stamped on-farm and some are stamped at a grading floor where there may be little or no traceability back to the farm. But in any event the Productivity Commission in its draft review of the regulations said that the cost of egg stamping represents about 65% of the food safety regulations “and does not appear to deliver superior traceability than labelling on egg cartons or requiring businesses to keep records.” The additional cost per dozen eggs is estimated to be 11.34 cents. The Commission found no evidence that egg stamping provides higher net benefits to the community than the alternatives.
Monday, July 03, 2017
A new academic study has been started to demonstrate something that all free range egg farmers know – that cage egg production is more efficient than free range. Keeping animals And birds in climate controlled sheds and feeding highly processed food is vastly more p[rofitable than letting livestock behave naturally – which is why there are so many feed lots and high density factory farms. Researchers at The University of Sydney, say that free-range broilers and layer hens are less efficient converters of feed into saleable meat and eggs, and generally have higher mortality than poultry reared in sheds. A new Poultry CRC project led by Dr Aaron Cowieson (Director of the University of Sydney’s Poultry Research Foundation) aims to establish the principle reasons for the observed performance gap between free-range and intensively reared hens. The project will evaluate various feed alternatives to reduce the differences in performance. It will also look at the lack of antibiotics in feed given to free range birds and their access to range. This seems to suggest that antibiotic growth promotants are widely used by cage and barn laid egg producers - something the industry has frequently denied.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Academic researchers often produce theories and reports designed to demonstrate what 'free range' means in the egg industry. Their findings are usually based on carefully arranged criteria set by an organisation which funded the research and expected specific outcomes. Far better to rely on the experience of those in the industry actually running free range egg farms. Some people are fixated on the issue of animal welfare and they lose sight of matters like food safety and land sustainability. Outdoor stocking density is a key example. Academics found it easy to come up with results from research on small scale or short term projects to demonstrate that stocking densities had little or no impact on hen welfare. But it has been impossible for them to demonstrate that high densities had no detrimental impact on pasture quality, pollution of waterways, groundwater and the long term productivity of the land as a result of excessive nutrient loads. The maximum sustainable stocking density for poultry has been established at 1500 hens per hectare to minimise land degredation and ensure the long-term viability of the land. Laying hens, like most if not all other animals, perform best when they are able to follow their natural behaviour. They clearly need shelter, food and water but they also need to wander around freely to forage, scratch, dust bathe and interact socially with others in the flock. Allowing the hens to follow their natural cycles keeps them happy - so there should be no lights in the sheds to trick them into thinking its still daylight and to keep eating and laying eggs (they need as much sleep as we do!)
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Factory farms are incubating the next outbreak of Avian Influenza in Australia. Ministers who approved an intensive stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare have put the entire Australian egg industry at risk. Such high densities allow any disease outbreak to spread rapidly. One gram of droppings from a chicken infected with bird flu contains enough viruses to infect the entire flock.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
We have helped many people in Australia to set up free range farms. The way our system of production is easily replicated is one reason we won the Energy Globe Award for Australia in 2012. We have had requests for help from various parts of the world - today we sent off our eBook on setting up a free range egg farm to Zambia. We received a request for technical assistance to assist in setting up a free range egg production farm in Lusaka Zambia. Of course the answer was Yes!
Monday, June 12, 2017
Tom Godfrey of consumer group, Choice says that the political decision to allow intensively produced eggs to be labelled as 'free range' will rip off consumers to the tune of $43 million a year. Consumers are overpaying for dodgy free range eggs and big producers are being protected from prosecution by changes to the Australian Consumer Law.
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
False assertions by the egg industry that no maximum stocking density was set in the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry) need to be revealed. The industry cobbled together an amended code which they peddle as the real thing and claim that it shows no maximum stocking density. They included in the main body of their version of the code, an edited item from the Appendix which they claim allows unlimited stocking densities.
Sunday, June 04, 2017
When large numbers of animals are farmed intensively on industrial units to maximise profits, problems are inevitable. Disease control and food safety are prime issues as is environmental sustainability. Since the Second World War, agricultural practices have gone through massive changes, in mechanisation, chemical use and large-scale intensive farming.https://www.gofundme.com/2tar52c
A best practice guide for managing feather pecking and cannibalism in layer hens, put together by Dr Phil Glatz and Geof Runge confirms that beak trimming should be the last option for controlling the problem. The best options are selecting docile breeds in the first place, and limiting competition by reducing stocking densities. Almost certainly the major egg producers will ignore the 'Best Practice' and will continue to use beak trimming as the only method to limit cannibalism. Inappropriate selection of pullets and high stocking densities are the prime causes of aggression amongst flocks which leads to feather pecking and cannibalism – which is one reason a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare was established in the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of animals (Domestic Poultry).
Thursday, June 01, 2017
New Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry are being prepared by Animal Health Australia. the draft standards will be subject to a 90-day public consultation process which is expected to be held later this year.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
It's not only the colour of egg yolks which is manipulated to make them look more attractive to consumers.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Most of the meat and eggs sold in Australian supermarkets come from intensive production facilities (you can't call them farms).Consumers eagerly buy beef labelled 'Grain fed' and believe they are getting a superior product. The reality is that they are missing out on the full flavour of grass fed cattle.The same thing applies to eggs. Supermarkets only stock eggs from large producers even though some labels claim they are 'free range'. Since a political decision allowing an outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare, the whole labelling question has been a joke. Producers have shown that they will put anything on their packaging if they think it will help to boost profits so they won't hesitate to put false stocking density claims on their labels because the politicians failed to ensure that such claims would be checked. Food grown naturally usually has better flavour and more nutrients compared with the intensive alternatives - that goes for vegetables as well as meat, fish and eggs.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
All major egg producers and many small ones - even those which claim to be free range and organic - use colouring additives in the feed they give their hens. Their use is completely unnecessary in a free range flock, as hens running on quality pasture and at low stocking densities will obtain enough carotenoids from the green feed in the paddock to maintain good yolk colour. The colour will vary – depending on the time of year and what each hen has been eating – but many egg producers want to con consumers by using additives to provide consistent, bright yolk colour. Many of those additives are synthetic - adding to the chemical cocktail mix in food. But even those which are claimed to be 'natural' are manufactured in factories – often in China. What the manufacturers mean by using the word 'natural' is that the additives may be derived from natural products but are processed and concentrated into a powder or liquid.Maryland: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/anaphylaxis-000008.htm Marigold Some people experience breathing problems, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat. A skin rash or hives may occur. From the Auckland Allergy Clinic Article written: September 2001 Salicylate sensitivity is the body’s inability to handle more than a certain amount of salicylates at any one time. A salicylate sensitive person may have difficulty tolerating certain fruits or vegetables. What are salicylates? Salicylate is a natural chemical made by many plants. It is chemically related to aspirin, which is a derivative of salicylic acid. It is believed the plant uses it as protection from insects, and they are everywhere around us. Although natural salicylates are found in wholesome foods, some individuals have difficulty tolerating even small amounts of them. The reaction to a natural salicylate can be as severe as that to a synthetic additive if the person is highly sensitive. Some people are troubled by only a very few, but some are troubled by all of them. What is salicylate sensitivity? Some adults and children have a low level of tolerance to salicylates and may get symptoms that are dose-related. The tolerated amount varies from one person to another. This is an example of food intolerance. What are some of the symptoms of Salicylate Intolerance? • Chronic Urticaria & Angioedema • Trigger for Eczema • Asthma • Nasal Polyps • Sinusitis • Rhino conjunctivitis • Stomach aches and upsets Foods containing Salicylates Salicylates occur naturally in many fruits, and vegetables as a preservative, to prevent rotting and protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. They are stored in the bark, leaves, roots, and seeds of plants. Salicylates are found naturally in many foods and its compounds are used in many products. All fresh meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, cereals, bread are naturally low in salicylates Foods with very high Salicylate content include: Vegetables: Capsicum Hot Peppers Capsaicin is the active component of Capsicum. Pure capsaicin is a volatile, hydrophobic, colourless, odourless, crystalline to waxy compound. Capsaicin Factsheet http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/Capsaicintech.pdf A UK report on The Adverse Effects of Food Additives on Health, published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine described surveys on food intolerance which showed that as many as 2 in 10 people believe that they react badly to certain foods or to their constituents, whereas less than 2 in every 100 has been considered to be the official figure. However, a recently published report indicates that small children are much more likely to react to certain foods. Although the exact numbers are not known, surveys suggest that one child in 10 may be affected in some way Of the nearly 4000 different additives currently in use, over 3640 are used purely for cosmetic reasons and as colouring agents. The continued reason for the use of additives is based on the argument that they are present in foods on such a minute scale that they must be harmless. This argument may be almost acceptable regarding additives with a reversible toxicological action. However, with additives which have been found to be both mutagenic and carcinogenic, neither the human nor animal body is able to detoxify. Therefore even very minute doses of these additives, when consumed continuously, will eventually result in an irreversible toxic burden, resulting finally in cancer formation and/or in chromosomal and foetal damage. This is unacceptable, particularly as the majority of these dangerous agents belong to the food colouring group. The full report is available here: http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1994/articles/1994-v09n04-p225.shtml An allergy is a hypersensitity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type 1 hypersensitivity. Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells. Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in humans but allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. From a Food Additive Guide http://mbm.net.au/health/100-181.htm E160(c) Paprika extract, capsanthin, capsorubin Capsanthin, found in paprika extract, is a red to orange coloured spice derived from the pods and seeds of the red pepper (Capsicum annuum). Contains vitamins A, B, C and traces of Zn, Cu, Se, Co, Mo, etc. Paprika extract also contains capsanthin. Capsanthin may be added to poultry feed to enhance egg yolk colour. Typical products include eggs, meat products. Not listed in Australia. Avoid it.
Friday, May 26, 2017
The Freeranger Eggs farm is an example of sustainable farming. The farm management plan takes a three pillars approach to how the farm operates. Animal welfare is one pillar, but equally important are land sustainability and food safety. Despite all the political bickering in Canberra over emissions trading scheme targets, some small businesses have been playing their part in addressing the problem. Freeranger Eggs has been getting on with mitigating the impact of carbon emissions. The farm's carbon footprint is limited by imposing a food miles policy for deliveries, using recycled materials and equipment whenever possible, utilising solar power and mechanical processes and an effective waste reduction programme. As a result, the 1200-chicken farm generates only about 60 tonnes of CO2 each year. But it is better than carbon neutral, it is carbon positive. The average organic matter in soil tests was 4.1 per cent in 2004, in 2006 it was 6.0 per cent, and in 2009 it was 7.9 percent. Calculations based on 2-inch deep samples, show that over those five years the farm sequestered about 14 tons of CO2 per acre or four tonnes of carbon per acre on the grasslands. Further testing and calculations have not been carried out because there has been a total lack of interest in the results.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
We are getting more requests about running workshops from people wanting to set up sustainable free range farms. The extra activity has been brought on by the stupid political decision to allow consumers to be misled by industrial-scale egg producers who are now legally allowed to label their eggs as free range.https://www.gofundme.com/2tar52c Our eBook on setting a free range business is readily available and members of the Freeranger Club are able to download information from our website which helps them set up and run their businesses.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Our flocks of Isa Brown's are getting over the wet,windy conditions of the last few week and enjoying the sun. A drop in egg production is inevitable on genuine free range farms during cold, wet times with less daylight hours. The only way to avoid the problem is to lock the hens in climate controlled sheds like most other egg producers.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Taste and nutritional values are the major drivers for decisions to choose free range eggs rather than those from hens kept in cages. That's been a view we have held for years, but now there is research to prove it: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08927936.2017.1310986
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Almost every day we receive emails from companies offering Search Engine Optimisation services. They tell us that they can increase traffic to our website and increase our sales. I have no doubt that these clever souls could increase the number of visitors to the Freeranger Eggs site but there is no way that would result in increased sales – because we don't have any extra eggs to sell. We sell out completely every week. So all it would mean is that we would have to say 'NO' more often to disappointed potential customers.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Good biosecurity measures are vital on any poultry farm to reduce the spread of many diseases - particularly serious ones such as Avian Influenza. It is generally a matter of commonsense and putting the right procedures in place. The Vietnam government has produced a booklet advising farmers and the points are relevant here in Australia. http://www.fao.org/docs/eims/upload/206313/AImanual_vietnam_en.pdf
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Outbreaks of avian influenza in many major egg-producing countries have reduced egg production expectations, but total world egg volumes will still reach 100 million tonnes by 2035. Since the year 2000 world egg production increased by 36.5 percent, or an average of 2.8 percent per year. In 2014, a laying flock of 7.2 billion hens produced almost 1,320 billion eggs worldwide, nearly 70 million tonnes. Of course, the majority of the eggs are from intensive operations with hens kept in climate - controlled sheds, mostly in cages.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Eggs are often seen as a high risk factor for allergies and intolerances. The problem is usually caused by the colouring additives used by many producers to enhance yolk colour.
Saturday, May 06, 2017
There is now more evidence about the stupidity (or corruption) of the various State Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the Federal Minister for Small Business who approved the new high density standard for free range egg production. There was no science behind the decvision to allow a stocking density of10,00 hens per hectare, which is well beyond the bounds of possible land sustainability see here:http://zootecnicainternational.com/featured/nutrient-loading-free-range-layer-farming/ The politicians meekly accepted the demands of major corporate egg producers and the grocery giants.
Thursday, May 04, 2017
Vaccines have been developed to combat avian influenza in poultry and bird flu in humans. But scientists are reluctant to approve the mass vaccination of chickens because they believe it may not reduce the risk of infection. The vaccines appear to mask the symptoms so poultry keepers may not be aware that their birds are infected. This could allow the virus to spread widely and may cross over to humans. The vaccines developed for humans seem to be more effective in controlling the effects of bird flu.
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
High levels of production and efficient feed conversion are needed if egg farms are to survive. Free range farms are able to maintain effective disease control when low stocking densities are maintained. It's essential for poultry health to provide high quality natural feed and clean water. A protein content of around 18% is required for hen health and good production. Organic acids and their salts have been used in poultry diets and drinking water for decades and seem to elicit a positive response in health and performance. An important objective of dietary acidification is the inhibition of intestinal bacteria competing for available nutrients, and a reduction of possible toxic bacteria resulting in better nutrient digestibility.
The Australian Government's standards for free range egg labelling do nothing to meet consumer expectations about what 'free range' means. They certainly don't increase the numbers of free range eggs in the marketplace. They simply protect unscrupulous operators from prosecution by the ACCC when they label intensively produced eggs as 'free range'. The guidelines allow an outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare which is many times the limits of land sustainability – or of consumer expectations.