Friday, June 01, 2018

Free range farming – good for the planet and consumers

Starting a free range egg farm can be a rewarding business – as added income for an existing venture or as a stand-alone business. Low density production results in more sustainable production and climate benefits in the form of carbon sequestration. Political changes to the definition of ‘free range’ have put the spotlight on free range production and has increased demand for genuine free range eggs. But where do people start? A series of webinars on establishing small free range farms is being developed by Victorian free range farmers Anne and Phil Westwood of Freeranger Eggs, at Grantville near Phillip Island. The couple believe that encouraging new small-scale start up farms is a better option for the industry and consumers than trashing regulations to allow intensive production systems to label eggs as free range.The fundamental problem with an intensive stocking density is the unsustainably high nutrient load as each hen produces half a cubic metre of manure a year. At a density of 10,000 hens per hectare, that's 5000 cubic metres of manure on each hectare of land - posing a health risk as well as environmental damage. Sustainable production using regenerative farming methods is a far better option. The webinars will help participants understand the variety of regulations including food safety and Australia's crazy labelling requirements. Anyone who wants to encourage more people to set up genuine free range egg farms can support a Crowd Funding appeal to develop a series of on-line webinars. These will encourage more traditional free range egg farms to be established throughout the country. Freeranger Eggs is getting more requests about running workshops from people wanting to enter the free range industry. The extra activity has been brought on by the 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. The Crowd funding appeal is at: More details about our farm can be found on the farm website here

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