Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Freeranger Facebook posts reach over 4000 people in January


Freeranger Eggs Facebook page had 4,068 visitors in January, the highest monthly figure for some time. One of the most popular posts was about the importance of rodent control and the threats posed by mice and rats.

Rodents are a major concern on many poultry farms due to spreading diseases, damage and feed loss. This is a major reason for keeping hens in mobile houses which are usually easier to keep rodent-free. Unless steps are taken to prevent their presence, the house mouse (Mus musculus), and black rat (Rattus rattus) may become unwanted (and frequently unnoticed) guests. Sheds are attractive to these freeloaders because they provide a home, food, and water. Both rats and mice only need a hole large enough to pass their head through, as small as a quarter-inch for mice or a half-inch for rats. Once inside the house, they can easily burrow into poultry litter, under nests, into dirt floors, and into insulation in the walls and ceilings. This may go unnoticed, because rodents are active mainly at night when farmers often are not present. Rodents are seldom seen during the day until their numbers reach epidemic proportions. However, even a small population of rodents can cause significant problems that cost money. Possibly, the most obvious problem with rodents is the feed they consume and contaminate. All rodents will eat poultry feed, and they contaminate and ruin much more than they eat. An adult rat eats up to 10% of its bodyweight in feed each day, so a large rodent population may eat several tonnes of feed each year.

Rodent control is also needed in grading rooms and carton storage areas to limit contamination.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Chickens on collectable cigarette cards


In days gone by, cigarette cards were all the rage. There are still avid collectors for cards on all sorts of subjects. One popular selection in the 1930’s and ‘40’s was poultry cards,from John Player and Sons, depicting a wide variety of chickens.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Intensive food production systems meet fluctuating consumer demand

Quantity over quality is the rationale behind intensive production techniques in the food industry, whether it's eggs. meat, grains or vegetables.

Balancing supply with demand has always been as issue for small egg producers like us – particularly in an area which is a holiday destination. A boom in demand as holidaymakers descend on the region, followed by a slump when they return home has been a natural cycle of business since we started producing eggs. But now, we have the added problem of fluctuating Government travel restrictions in response to the Covid19 pandemic. Big producers with coolrooms full of stockpiled eggs, are able to cope without missing a beat – just load up the trucks and send eggs off to the stupidmarkets.

However, selling quality, fresh eggs, is rather more challenging as we have no stockpiles to plunder when customers need extra supplies. Theres is no question that intensive egg producers are better able to supply fluctuating market demands compared with boutique egg farms meeting niche market requirements. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Latest electric Tractor from the US

Monarch Tractors in the US has introduced an all electric tractor. It's not available in Australia yet but when it is I'd like to put it through its paces on the farm. In my days of editor of Power Farming magazine, we often had tractors and other farm machinery here for evaluation.Once manufacturers provide equipment for us to work with, we will undergo on-farm testing, set up a small farm equipment blog,YouTube channel and Facebook page to provide reports as well as sending details to traditional farm media outlets and publishing on our existing blog and facebook page.We will provide assessments on a wide range of machinery designed for small farms - so don't expect features on 800 hp tractors and other machinery aimed at broadacre farmers. The Monarch is able to operate with or without a driver, using autonomous technologies to offer driver-optional operations. It can perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver, or can follow a worker on the farm. Other manufacturers, such as John Deere have also come with electric models which we would like to assess along with a wide range of other farm machinery and equipment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Insect protein powder for chickens

 Most of us have heard of protein shakes for people, but how about protein powder for chooks? A Melbourne company has developed a protein powder from insect larvae and here at Freeranger Eggs, we are sampling the product to see how the hens like it in their feed. Poultry feed is responsible for 60-80% of the total production cost of eggs with the protein ingredient accounting for about 70% of the total feed bill. Most poultry fed currently depends on meat,fish or soy meal as the main protein ingredientsThe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommends insects as an alternative protein source in poultry feed . The Melbourne company is Karma3 Technologies, its chairman is former CSIRO scientist Professor Paul Wood and we will be pleased to see how the sample goes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Big demand for information on setting up a freerange farm

Our eBook on how to set up a sustainable freerange farm is even more valuable now the clear consumer demand for free range eggs has generated a strong increase in the number of people thinking about starting their own free range businesses.

Small, ethical and sustainable farm businesses can be established to service local communities.

A good starting point is reading our(pdf) eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website

Detailed information is available on the Freeranger Club downloads page about things like shed requirements, food safety, egg packaging and labelling.

When deciding 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. Once that is sorted, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have before you get underway.

Details: www.freeranger.com.au