Monday, January 30, 2012

Egg Corp crisis meeting

The Australian Egg Corporation has called a crisis meeting for early February to get the biggest 25 egg producers to address the problems of massive over-supply.

Apparently by July this year, on current projections more than one million eggs will be laid each day than can be sold in Australia. One of the Egg Corp's solutions - kill half a million birds.
Hmmm !!!

Backyarders now blamed for egg industry woes

The Australian Egg Corporation says that backyard flocks now account for about 12% of egg production in Australia. The reality is people have always had chooks - but the numbers are now growing because the community is fed up with the dishonesty of producers who mislabel their eggs.
Customers aren't stupid, they know that the Egg Corp allows intensively-farmed eggs go be labelled as 'free range' and that this situation will be even worse if the new standard is pushed through which endorses a proposed stocking density of up to 20,000 hens per hectare.
It was a great talking point at Farmers' Markets over the weekend - particularly at Churchill Island and Inverloch.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Diatomacious Earth good for lice and mite control on chickens

I've been asked about Diatomacious Earth, as I've included it as a parasite control in my ebook on keeping chickens.

It's very useful substance, a light, powdery rock formed in the Jurassic period from fossilised algae. The insecticidal properties it has have nothing to do with chemicals - it is simply very absorbant so it dries out little insects and dehydrates them.

Sprinkle a little in nest boxes or in dust bathing areas and say goodbye to mites and lice. It can also be used a slurry to paint on perches if you notice a mite invasion.

Best to buy a food grade version because obviously the chooks may eat it. The product is used widely in things like cat litter as an absorbent, and for mopping up industrial spills (including major oil spills).

Food grade diatomaceous earth is a natural pest deterrent that is safe for you, your chickens, and other pets. It helps to keep your flock healthy by killing ticks, fleas, and digestive worms.
How to use it:
It's a very fine powder, so sprinkle it where you need it: In your chicken nests, on the perches and around the feed bins. You can also use it for cockroach and other insect control in the home – but because it is so fine, wear a mask when using it.

Please only use food grade diatomaceous earth for your flock and your household, as other grades can contain chemicals and high amounts of crystalline silica which can damage your lungs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Australian Egg Corporation hits the panic button - 5 million dozen eggs in storage

This is from the latest newsletter of the Australian Egg Corporation and it demonstrates what a spin they are in.
Egg Corp layer and egg supply forecastThe forecast report for January has been distributed by AECL to all egg producer subscribers to the service. It paints a daunting picture of record and increasing egg supplies to the market given the chicks that have already been placed and those now on order. Production is now projected to reach 34 million dozen in July this year. It says that action is needed by all egg producers to control the oversupply or surplus. The best indicator is your coolroom and the increasing stocks in inventory. The inventory report suggests that inventory levels are now at record volumes, in excess of 5 million dozen.
Given the significant and now record levels of egg production and egg inventory, AECL has requested a meeting of the top 25 egg producers to seek a ‘path forward’ for the egg industry in a co-ordinated and consolidated fashion to ensure its profitable sustainability, a key part of the egg industry’s vision. All other egg producers are welcome to join the meeting that will take place in Sydney during early February.
The huge volumes of surplus eggs demonstrate why there is such pressure to allow intensively produced eggs to be labelled as 'free range'. There is now a real dilemma amongst the big producers as they all thought the new slack standards would be through now to get them out of trouble.

'La Ionica' decision must be a worry for the Australian Egg Corporation

Poultry producer La lonica (meat birds) has escaped with a $100,000 penalty after admitting making false statements over some 13 years that its hens were "free to roam".

The maximum penalty the Federal Court could have imposed on La lonica was $1.1 million. Justice Tracey said the $100,000 penalty agreed by the parties was "towards the lower end of the proper range", but added "it is, however, within the permissible range and I would not depart from the proposed amount simply because I might have been minded to impose a higher figure".

It is now expected that the ACCC will get stuck in to the Australian Egg Corporation. What the Egg Corp and some egg producers are doing is even more deceptive than the meat bird industry.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

50,000 hits on the Freeranger blog

I noticed on the blogger stats this morning that this site has just reached 50,000 page views. The most popular posts are 'Why hens stop laying' and our 'So you want to keep chickens?'
We are pleased that so  many people find this site useful, particularly with so much misleading information being peddled by the Australian Egg Corporation about its new standards for 'free range' production.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Runny egg whites

Some farms have problems with watery egg whites and these often lead to customer complaints about 'stale' eggs. But watery or runny whites are not necessarily an indication that the eggs are old.

If an egg is broken onto a flat surface and the albumen (white) is watery and spreads-out, this may indicate that the egg is stale - but there can be other reasons. The height of the albumen and the weight of the egg are used to calculate a value in Haugh units on a scale of 0 to 110. Under this measuring system, the lower the value, the staler the egg is supposed to be.

A minimum Haugh unit measurement of 60 is desirable for whole eggs sold to domestic consumers.  Eggs leaving the farm should average between 75 and 85 Haugh units and many farms conduct random testing to ensure that this quality standard is met.

Although watery whites are thought to be mainly an indication of the increasing age of the egg, the problem can be exacerbated by high storage temperatures and low humidity. Also, as birds age, the Haugh unit value of their eggs decreases by about 1.5 to 2 units per month of lay. Some birds consistently produce eggs with watery whites (Haugh units less than 30) later in lay, which is one reason that most commercial farms only keep their birds for one laying season.

Here are some steps eggs farmers take to minimise the problems of watery whites:

Keep the flock age as low as possible;

Collect eggs several times each day and store at correct temperature – less than 20ÂșC;

Grade, pack and despatch eggs to customers as quickly as possible;

During grading, remove all eggs with rough, porous shells and/or large air cells;

Consider fitting a humidifier in the coolroom to maintain storage humidity at 70 - 80%;

Maintain good disease control, particularly with correct vaccinations;

Ensure there are no fungal toxins in feed (don't use wet or mouldy feed);

Eliminate rough handling;

Pack eggs on filler flats or in cartons with the air cell (blunt end) upwards.

Excluding disease, the single most important factor affecting the albumen quality of freshly laid eggs is the age of the birds. With advancing flock age, Haugh unit scores decrease and the variability of the scores increases. An induced pause in egg production (moult) can often restore albumen quality in aging hens. Both strain differences and strain/age interaction effects in Haugh unit scores of fresh eggs have often been observed, but these are normally small and have little practical significance. Albumen quality of the egg is not greatly influenced by bird nutrition. .

When ambient temperatures are high, delays in egg collection increase the rate of Haugh unit score decline. The maintenance of albumen quality during egg storage is dependent on the eggs being cooled quickly following lay and subsequently being held at low temperatures.

Different strains of hens can show a great variation in Haugh unit scores. Strains laying white-shelled eggs have been shown to be much less variable than those producing brown-shelled eggs.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Churchill Island Farmers' Market

It was an excellent day at Churchill Island Farmers' Market today. I sold out all my eggs at about noon - 150 dozen.  Now we have to prepare for the Inverloch Farmers' Market tomorrow.
We don't normally do two markets on a weekend because we don't usually have enough eggs. But because of the abnormally cool weather for midsummer, the chooks are still laying brilliantly and we have a great lay rate.
This, coupled with a slack economy which means that the restaurant trade is down about 25% compared with this time last year, allows us go to more markets.
In fact this weekend we have three!  Anne went to the Coal Creek Farmers' Market and sold around 80 dozen.
So assuming Inverloch is successful, we should end up having a great weekend.
Hopefully it will make up for last Wednesday when I went to the market at Venus Bay. The weather was atrocious, virtually no customers came along and most stall holders went home after an hour or so.
I stuck it out in the wind for a while, but eventually gave up and headed back to the farm. I sold just 13 dozen !!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Year of the Farmer

This year, 2012,  is dedicated in Australia to primary producers and a special Year of the Farmer program will celebrate the contribution farmers and rural communities make to the nation.

Activities will run for the next 12 months, with events planned along the way, with the aim of broadening public awareness of the wider farming industry With support from sponsors and ambassadors such as cricketer, Glenn McGrath, the events will focus on heightening consumer appreciation and understanding of Australian produce.

A rolling event is the AustralianYear of the Farmer Roadshow, which will travel more than 55,000 km across Australia to 300 event days in all states and territories, appearing at agricultural field days, expos, concerts, rodeos, festivals and shows.

The roadshow will help Australians celebrate the important role farming plays in all our lives. Here at Freeranger Eggs, we recognise the importance of informing the community about the way farming impacts on allof us. Which is why we have been so active pushing for honesty about production methods and the need for Truth in Labelling legislation.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Australian Egg Corp caught with its pants down

Here's a great response to the Australian Egg Corporation's attempt to con politicians and consumers about its 'view' of the industry and its plans.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

What a trusting young dog !!

Why would a dog think it was comfortable to go to sleep with his head on the bottom pad of an ironing press?  He clearly hasn't watched The Three Stooges!
This is Wesson, our Smithfield/Dingo/ Kelpie cross, born with no tail and all he wants to do at night is sleep indoors with us (preferably on the bed).
He's the sort of dog that has only two speeds - asleep/motionless or flat-out running, bouncing and barking like a banshee. 

Back on line after a lightning strike

Our phone land line (and therefore internet connection) was knocked out by lightning on Christmas Eve and when I contacted our service provider - DCSI - they advised that Telstra was contracted to carry out line servicing and maintenance for them.
The problem with that was that Telstra said they couldn't come to the farm to look at the problem (and hopefully fix it) until January 3(today).
As you can tell, the line is now fixed - but how did Telstra and DCSI expect us to carry out our normal business activites without a phone or internet access for 10 days?
At this time of year, peak holiday season, all our restaurants need more eggs and they ring or email their orders on a regular basis. Thankfully most of our regulars have my mobile number but we missed orders from those shops and restaurants which only deal with us occasionally.
I don't understand what would have been hard for the landline calls to be switched to my mobile given that Telstra couldn't be bothered to fix the line in a day or so.
I've advised DCSI that we will lodge a complaint with the Telecommunications Ombudsman.