Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fly larvae could bring down the cost of poultry feed

A South African company, AgriProtein Technologies has developed a manufacturing process to produce fly larvae for use in poultry feed and other animal diets. The company is using slaughterhouse waste, animal manure and discarded food to grow the larvae, which are dried and ground into a powdered ingredient for monogastric animal feeds. AgriProtein says the product has a nutritional composition that is as good as fishmeal and better than soy - an increasingly expensive component of poultry feed.

Production by AgriProtein Technologies is relatively small scale at the moment. The company is currently producing two tonnes of larvae protein a week in its plant near Cape Town in South Africa, but is gearing up manufacturing capacity with the creation of two full scale production plants in Cape Town and Germany.

“We are passionate about expanding our business to recycle more waste nutrients and supply a natural protein to feed farm animals,” said Jason Drew of AgriProtein. The company recently won a $100,000 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), an award that was established by the African Innovation Foundation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to encourage innovative achievements that contribute towards developing new products, increasing efficiency or saving cost.

The company says that larvae are a natural food of chickens in the wild and fish in streams. “Their nutritional composition is as good as that of fishmeal and better than soya. As a natural food it has excellent take on and digestibility properties,” says the company. “The most impressive part of the process is nature. A single female fly will lay 750 eggs in under a week, which will hatch into larvae which grow in weight over 400 times in just a few days. Our plant and machinery are modular in design, enabling plants to be built to suit each location. Each production line can produce up to ten tonnes of larvae protein per day.”

Jason Drew says the company, which is based in Stellenbosch, South Africa, has spent nearly six years working out how to get billions of egg-laying flies and larvae to work together. AgriProtein has had interest from nearly 30 countries wanting to license the process. And as well as setting up full-scale factories, the company has also developed a smaller unit for rural areas where small-scale animal owners can recycle their waste. Jason Drew said it was taken for granted that society should recycle tin, plastic and paper. Within 10 years it would be considered normal to recycle waste nutrients.

Here at Freeranger Eggs, we have seen chooks eager to eat fly larvae whenever they come across them so we have no doubt that they could become a great food source.

The cost of feed has been a big issue for egg farmers, especially with the escalating cost of soya. Professor Louise Fresco of the University of Amsterdam told delegates at the International Egg Commission conference in Madrid in April, “There is a fantastic source of protein that we are not using and that is insects, insects in all kinds of forms.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New SA voluntary egg code

It's great that the South Australian Government is moving to establish a code for egg production in that State which will set a maximum stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare for the free range sector.
As it is proposed to be voluntary, it will really be just a marketing tool as other eggs from intensive farms will be able to be labelled as 'free range' as long as they don't claim to meet the new standard.
You can access details about the proposal at:

Comments are invited and close on July 12.

The comments we will be sending are:

The proposed standard for free range egg production in South Australia is an excellent idea given the absence of a Federal initiative to implement a national standard.

In our view the key points of the production standard need to specify:
  • A maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare with an emphasis on maintaining ground cover for sustainable farm operations. This may require lower stocking rates when vegetative cover is depleted (such as during drought).
  • Beak trimming of free range hens should be prohibited as it is not necessary with low stocking densities.
  • Some limitation should be made on the number of hens in a shed as this can impact on whether or not the hens actually go outside. A maximum of 1000 or perhaps 2000 hens per shed at densities specified in the Model Code could be adopted.
  • The hens must have full access to the outdoor area for at least eight hours every day
Environmental Guidelines for the egg industry can be found at:

Discussion about beak trimming can be found at:


To provide consumer confidence in the standards an auditing system will need to be introduced for participating farms.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Egg farms not exempt from climate change

There is little doubt that climate change will cause serious supply chain disruptions over the next few decades. And egg producers won't be exempt from the problems. Despite persistent denials by climate change sceptics, the connection between human behaviour and the warming of our planet has been well established.

Carbon dioxide emissions between 1850 and 1950 amounted to an average of 2 billion tonnes per year. During the 1980s this rose to 7.1 billion and by 2020 it's estimated to reach 9.8 billion.

Freak weather events caused by these changes are triggering unexpected commodity shortages and price volatility as well at causing havoc with many farming operations. This creates unprecedented supply chain instability and introduces new levels of risk and uncertainty into markets.

Only those farm and other businesses that can adapt will survive. Stable supply chains in the future will depend on action being taken at multiple levels to reduce greenhouse gas emission and mitigate climate change.

Most businesses currently externalise the cost of natural resources, creating a distorted picture of financial performance and business value. It can be demonstrated that many of the ‘services’ provided by the environment and which are essential for long term viability, are not factored into mainstream financial reporting.

The pressure on business to correct this distortion through True Cost Accounting is growing—a system in which the monetary value of natural resources such as water, timber and fossil fuels are included as costs that are reflected in the bottom line.

If True Cost Accounting is accepted as a normal business tool, and businesses pay for their use of natural resources, market dynamics will drive businesses to reduce their dependency in order to survive.

Production at Freeranger Eggs is aimed at sustainability and we believe we are well placed to meet an uncertain future – although there are bound to be problems from time to time with feed shortages and cost increases.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Vic Government releases food safety requirements for egg farmers

Many egg producers thumb their noses at food safety issues because they don't understand (or don't care) about the implications for consumers or for their businesses.
At last, here in Victoria the Government has sent out its requirements for meeting the new national standards for egg production which came into effect on November 26 last year. It gives producers until November 26 2014 to comply with egg stamping regulations!
Which means that for more than another year, many Victorian consumers will continue to have no idea where the eggs they buy actually originate. There have been many examples of substitution, with eggs brought in from other farms using different production systems - some of them interstate. These eggs are packed and marketed as being produced on a particular farm, to specific standards.
At least when stamping each egg with a unique farm identification code, consumers may be able to tell who is cheating. But until November next year the con merchants will have a ball.
Once the Department of Primary Industries has issued us with a code to put on our eggs, we intend to buy the necessary equipment and start stamping Freeranger Eggs even though we don't have to for almost 18 months.
It makes sense to us that consumers should be able to tell the source of the eggs they buy.
At Freeranger Eggs we've had a fully operation HACCP-based Quality Assurance and Food Safety Program in place for several years, so we don't have to do anything more apart from stamping the eggs. 
One dumb thing in the new regulations is that eggs can be stamped on the farm where they are laid - or at the grading floor. (This means that smart operators of the grading floor can put on any identifier they like. What a loophole!)