Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The differences with eggs - why some are better than others

The nutrients in every egg you eat only come from the feed available to the chickens. Ingredients fed to the hens make a profound difference to the quality of each egg. We are a low density, genuine free range farm and our hens are free to roam at all times, grazing on predominately native pasture and eating whatever seeds, insects, bugs, worms etc.they find – they can only do this because they have full beaks. Most egg farms, even those which claim to be 'free range',do not have fully beaked birds. They choose to beak trim their hens to avoid problems resulting from aggressive behaviour within their flocks because they have too many hens. Violence resulting in injury or cannibalism is only a serious issue on intensive farms. If a problem of aggression within the flock arises, either the farmer has bought the wrong type of hens - or he (or she) has too many!! The maximum number in each flock on our farm is 350 hens, and we usually run four or five flocks. Many so-called 'free range' farms have many thousands of hens in sheds and they limit access to the outdoors - if the hens go outside at all.This is the way a producer has enough eggs to supply major supermarkets - so if you want genuine free range eggs, don't go to a supermarket. With mobile laying sheds regularly moved around the paddocks, we are able to maintain pasture growth all year. We provide a supplementary grains-based ration containing no meat meal to satisfy all the nutritional requirements for our hens to maintain good health and an excellent lay rate. We specify no meat meal in the feed for our hens because it is often processed from chickens - either from so-called 'spent hens' which are no longer productive on big farms or from day-old rooster chicks which are discarded at the hatcheries.For more information about how our farm operates or to read our eBook on setting up a genuine free range farm, check out our website: We are also planning webinars to encourage more people to set up proper free range farms. How are Freeranger Eggs different? Our free range hens spend as much time as they like outdoors grazing on pasture and doing what they do naturally-scratch around for bugs and worms. There is no need for them to be locked up as birds in each flock are protected from predators 24 hours a day by their Maremma guard dogs. Our feed(which supplements what our hens find in their paddocks) is from a certified feed mill which uses precise nutritional information to formulate a diet especially for us to ensure a superior, tasty, natural egg. Most 'free range' eggs are laid on farms with high stocking densities and with beak-trimmed birds. Freeranger Eggs has an outdoor stocking density of 15 - 40 hens per hectare. On our 80 hectare property  we run 1200 hens but during busy holiday periods with extra demand we may run an additional flock taking our total numbers to 1500. As our sheds are only roost houses with nest boxes for laying, the hens spend very little time indoors, unlike most farms where hens are kept indoors most of the time and lights are installed to keep the hens eating and laying eggs. Our hens are allowed to live a natural life – so when it gets dark, they sleep. It means we don’t have a lay rate as high as on a big commercial farm but the chooks are happy.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Avian influenza kills 120 million poultry

The world-wide wave of avian flu has resulted in the loss of nearly 120 million poultry In global animal disease terms, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is waning in its second global wave but it is estimated to have led to the loss of almost 120 million head of poultry. New outbreaks have been reported in Cambodia, Japan, Taiwan, India, Iraq, Turkey and South Africa in the last 12 months.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Politicians pose health risk for Consumers and chickens

Politicians are putting consumers and chickens at risk over their new 'free range' stocking density standard.They need to be convinced to change their minds on a standard of 10,000 hens per hectare for egg production. The sheer volumes of manure make intensive free range production dangerous for animal health, and us humans eating contaminated eggs. Intensive cage eggs are likely to be less dangerous than intensive free range. Outbreaks of food poisoning have increased in Western Australia apparently as a result of poor handling of eggs. Eggs are safe if handled properly on farm, during delivery and in kitchens. Problems are likely to increase after politicians approved an intensive standard for free range production which risks major contamination. As each hens produces half a cubic metre of manure a year, hens on farms complying with the new standard, allowing 10,000 hens per hectare will be living in a huge dung pile of 5000 cubic metres every year.

Nutritional value of eggs

Nutrition Here is a list of nutrients found in eggs: Free range eggs have even greater nutritional value, as long as the hens are really free range and able to roam around a paddock, eating whatever takes their fancy. vitamin A vitamin B-2 vitamin B-12 vitamin B-5 vitamin D vitamin E biotin choline folic acid iodine iron lutein and zeaxanthin phosphorus protein selenium Protein A medium-sized egg typically contains 5.53 grams of protein. Around 12.6 percent of the edible portion of an egg is protein which is in both in the yolk and the egg white. Fats One large egg contains about 5 grams of fat. The majority of fat in an egg is unsaturated and is regarded to be the best type of fat to be included in a balanced diet. Saturated fats should be limited to less than 10 percen of your daily calories. For example, a diet consisting of 1,800 calories should limit saturated fat to no more than 20 grams. A large egg contains less than 2 grams of saturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids Eggs are also a rich supply of omega-3fatty acids. These are mainly in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps with the maintenance of brain function and normal vision. These fatty acids are most commonly found in oily fish, and so eggs provide an alternative source for people that are unable to eat fish. Eggs and cholesterol One medium-sized egg that weighs 44 grams typically contains 164 milligrams of cholesterol. However, evidence has shown there is little, if any, relationship between cholesterol found in food and heart disease or blood cholesterol levels. As eggs are low in saturated fats, the effect that they have on blood cholesterol is deemed to be clinically insignificant. Of course eggs labelled as free range in supermarkets, which meet the 10,000 hens per hectare density approved by politicians have the same nutritional values as cage eggs - because the hens eat exactly the same processed food.

Monday, February 19, 2018

100 donors needed to meet crowd funding target for free range webinars

Everyone can help Freerangr Eggs reach our initial target of 100 donors to the crowd funding campaign for developing webinars encouraging more free range farms to be established. The webinars will be free for participants and each will receive a copy of our eBook on setting up a free range farm. To help, click

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Egg Labelling nonsense in Australia

Free range egg farmers in Australia will be hit with greater compliance costs - thanks to incompetent politicians and bureaucrats. Already , eggs are the only fresh food which is required to carry a nutrition information panel. Producers of meat, fish and vegetables are not required to print nutritional information panels on their products - so why are egg farmers penalised? To make it even worse, all egg producers print the same nutritional information on their cartons, because they are downloaded from a central site - so they are all identical- serving no useful purpose for consumers. The Nutritional information panels on food products are supposed to allow consumers to compare the food values of different products. breakfast cereals,processed foods etc - but egg producers who comply with regulations are caught up in this rubbish in a meaningless jumble of red tape. The details are usually so small that no-one can read them.On top of that, because politicians were too lazy to adopt a clear definition of free range, from April we will be required to add on our already over-crowded labels the number of hens we have, per hectare.

Amendment to Consumer Law could define free range properly

Rebekha Sharkie, Federal MP for Mayo, South Australia, a member of the Nick Xenophon Team has tabled an amendment in Parliament to Australian Consumer Law – which, if passed, will properly define the meaning of free range eggs. The amendment reads: “eggs will only be permitted to be represented as free range eggs if they are laid by hens that are able to move about freely on an open range during daylight hours on most days, and that the majority of such hens do in fact move about freely on an open range during daylight hours. The amendment will ensure that eggs cannot be represented as free range eggs if they are laid by hens that are subject to a stocking density of more than 1500 hens per hectare. It seems unlikely that the amendment will be supported, but good on her for trying! This is exactly what Ministers and bureaucrats should have done to ensure the integrity of the egg industry.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Draft welfare standards still open for comment

There’s just two weeks remaining for the community and interested parties to have their say on the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry and the associated Regulation Impact Statement (RIS). The draft standards from Animal Health Australia, move from the existing voluntary system to national regulation. But the regulation is inadequate, a better option would be to legislate the Model Code.The document has been open for public consultation since Monday 27 November 2017 and will close for comment at 5pm Monday 26 February 2018. Kathleen Plowman, Animal Health Australia (AHA) CEO, encourages all interested parties to submit their views on the draft document and the associated RIS, which identifies the key costs and benefits of the draft standards and provides alternative options.Submissions should be emailed to We will be submitting something like this:"In the RIS , the policy objective of the action is identified as: 'To minimise risks to poultry welfare; and to reduce both industry uncertainty and excess regulatory burden in a way that is practical for implementation and industry compliance. The main criterion for evaluating the proposed standards and the feasible alternatives is net benefit for the community. The most effective way to acheive this objective is to legislate the existing Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry) as a mandatory standard rather a voluntary guideline. This action would achieve the claimed objectives of the new welfare regulations. As the code is widely accepted by the industry there will be no additional cost to industry.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Free range guidance from the ACCC at last!

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released guidance for egg producers on its approach to enforcing the new National Information Standard on free range eggs, which comes into effect on April 26 2018. Under the new Standard, egg producers cannot use the words ‘free range’ on their egg cartons unless the eggs were laid by hens that: had meaningful and regular access to an outdoor range during daylight hours,were able to roam and forage on the outdoor range, were subject to a stocking density of 10 000 hens or less per hectare, and that outdoor stocking density is prominently displayed on the packaging or signage. “Shoppers are willing to pay a premium for free range eggs, but only if the chickens genuinely have regular access to an outdoor range. From April 26, free range must only be used by compliant egg producers so consumers can have confidence in the products they are buying,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “If an egg producer’s hens are using the outdoor range on a regular basis and they satisfy the stocking density requirements, then the producer can call their eggs free range.” The guidance also explains egg producers’ obligations under the misleading or deceptive conduct provisions of Australian Consumer Law. This includes representations made through marketing activities such as product packaging and advertising. “If egg producers use images, pictures, or words, other than free range, that imply their eggs are free range when they are not, this would likely raise concerns under the Australian Consumer Law,” Mr Sims said. “The ACCC is monitoring the market to ensure that free range claims are truthful and accurate and will continue to take action against those that don’t.” The industry expects there will be many more prosecutions because many corporate egg producers with intensive facilities have for years been marketing their eggs as free range and they don't propose to change their ways. The debate over outdoor stocking densities on free range farms was hi-jacked by animal rights groups. It is more than a welfare issue – it’s about land sustainability. A laying hen produces half a cubic metre of manure a year. So with a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare farmers 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.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Sustainable farm management

Freeranger Eggs at Grantville is an example of sustainable farming. The farm management plan takes a three pillars approach to how the farm operates. Land sustainability is one pillar, but equally important are food safety and animal welfare. Growth is not a part of our philosophy. we need to encourage people to set up more farms, not upscale existing farm businesses. We believe that will support more people working the land fairly and will ensure long-term food security. 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 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 regular regeneration 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. Thw farm is a true free range operation with small flocks of chickens in separate paddocks with mobile roost houses where eggs are laid.An eBook is available on setting up free range eggs farm s and we are developing a series of webinars. Crowd funding is being sought to prepare the webinars . Details on the freeranger eggs website. Freeranger Eggs gained international recognition in 2012 as the Australian winner of the Energy Globe Award.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Sunny Queen joins 'free range' fight

Major Australian egg company Sunny Queen which sells more than 70 million eggs a year, labelled cage, barn and free range, has admitted that an outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare is the accepted standard for free range production. Speaking on ABC television's Landline programme, Managing Director John O'Hara said "the free-range market will grow for a "little while longer before plateauing." The Queensland-based company has set up a new free range operation meeting the stocking density recommended in the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry), but it still buys and packages eggs from independent suppliers who run their hens at much higher densities. The company says that demand for cage eggs has slumped in the last decade from 70 per cent of sales to 55 per cent, with eggs labelled as 'free-range' now taking 40 per cent of the market in Australia.Buyers should be aware that most eggs labelled as free range in major supermarkets do not meet consumer expectations. Stay away from supermarkets if you want free range eggs.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

History of the chicken

The Smithsonian Institution tells us that it is generally accepted that domestic chickens are direct descendants of the Red Jungle Fowl, Gallus Gallus of south east asia. The chicken’s star turn came in 2004, when an international team of geneticists produced a complete map of the chicken genome. The chicken was the first domesticated animal, the first bird—and consequently, the first descendant of the dinosaurs—thus honoured. The genome map provided an excellent opportunity to study how millennia of domestication can alter a species. In a project led by Sweden’s Uppsala University, Michael Zody and his colleagues researched the differences between the red jungle fowl and its barnyard descendants, including “layer breeds raised to produce eggs and broilers for eating. The researchers found important mutations in a gene designated TBC1D1, which regulates glucose metabolism. In the human genome, mutations in this gene have been associated with obesity, but it’s a positive trait in a creature destined for the dinner table. Another mutation that resulted from selective breeding is in the TSHR (thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor) gene. In wild animals this gene coordinates reproduction with day length, confining breeding to specific seasons. The mutation disabling this gene enables chickens to breed—and lay eggs—all year long. Once chickens were domesticated, cultural contacts, trade, migration and territorial conquest resulted in their introduction, and reintroduction, to different regions around the world over several thousand years. Although inconclusive, evidence suggests that ground zero for the bird’s westward spread may have been the Indus Valley, where the city-states of the Harappan civilization carried on a lively trade with the Middle East more than 4,000 years ago. Archaeologists have recovered chicken bones from Lothal, once a great port on the west coast of India, raising the possibility that the birds could have been carried across to the Arabian Peninsula as cargo or provisions. By 2000 B.C., cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia refer to “the bird of Meluhha,” the likely place name for the Indus Valley Read more:

Friday, February 02, 2018

Freerange eggs offer an ideal rural small business opportunity

If you are thinking about setting up a small rural business, think about establishing a free range egg farm. There is huge demand for more free range eggs, and consumers know that they can't trust labels on eggs found in supermarkets. Everyone can help to establish more genuine, small scale free range eggs 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. An eBook on starting a free range farm is also available through the Freeranger website. The preparation of the webinars is being supporting by a crowd funding appeal. To help, look at