Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Sunday, July 29, 2018
We are receiving overseas enquiries about the suitability of our eBook and proposed webinars for egg production in different countries. The answer is Yes, the information in the webinars and the eBook is applicable virtually anywhere. The only significant differences are in local regulations and climatic conditions. Clearly extreme weather will require special attention – as will potential predators. It’s rather different tending chickens in arctic and equatorial conditions and protecting them from Grizzly Bears,lions or Tigers compared with protecting them from Foxes or Tasmanian Devils. Check out our website for details on obtaining an eBook and supporting the webinars.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Our lay rate has dropped considerably because of shorter daylight hours - but now we hope production will start to pick up. Fewer eggs make it difficult to meet our regular orders - and means that we can't think of accepting new orders even though there is huge demand.This is the penalty for genuine free range egg farming. If we joined the majority of other egg producers we could maintain year-round production by locking our hens in climate controlled sheds with artificial lighting. But we don't think that's fair on the hens or on consumers who are prepared to pay a premium to meet the costs of genuine free range production. We get back to our old message - if you want free range eggs don't go to a supermarket because you won't find any there.
Friday, July 20, 2018
Australian Eggs is urging all free range poultry farmers to register to use a worming compound Flubendazole even though some studies have shown residues in egg. Australian Eggs claims that an increase in free range egg production has been accompanied by an increase in parasitic worm infestations, which negatively affects bird health. The reality is that there has not been an increase in free range production - just an increase in eggs labelled as 'free range' even though they are from intensive factory systems. Australian Eggs says"As there are limited anti-parasitic drugs available for use in laying hens, the industry is seeking to register an alternative drug, flubendazole, to treat currently untreatable parasitic worm infections". An application has been put forward to the AVPMA by Elanco, requesting the use of flubendazole across all free range laying hens. On those genuine free range properties where hens are at low stocking densities, there should be no significant worm burden problems. Minor infestations are easily treated with natural remedies. Problems are generally only found on the many intensive farms which masquerade as free range.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10435292
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Our eBook on starting a free range farm is still available. Just visit our website at www.freeranger.com.au to order.It's full of practical details on establishing your own free range egg farm. Once our webinars are underway, the eBook will be sent to everyone who registers.
Deception by major Australian egg producers over ‘free range’ claims has been confirmed by Australian Eggs, the industry’s peak marketing and research body. Newly released environmental guidelines for egg farmers state that “the majority of manure is deposited in sheds.” This is a clear acknowledgement that most hens on these so-called free range farms are kept in sheds despite legal requirements that they must have ‘meaningful and regular access to an outdoor range during the daylight hours of the laying cycle and are able to roam and forage on the outdoor range.’ If those conditions are met, politicians allow poultry farms with stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare to describe their eggs as free range, but the disclosure in the guidelines just released shows that most producers do not comply with the requirements.The revelation confirms the view of genuine free range farmers that the only way the 10,00 hens per hectare density can work is if the hens are locked in sheds and the manure is collected and transported off farm. Otherwise, the high density presents major environmental, food safety and animal health issues with the sheer volume of manure per hectare posing problems of land degredation and pollution.Many planning authorities are unlikely to accept such a high density and Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has said that “Local and State planning laws also apply to free range hen farms.” It is expected that the Australian competition and Consumer Commission will investigate the industry practice revealed by Australian Eggs and may launch more successful prosecutions in the Federal Court.
Saturday, July 07, 2018
The Freeranger Eggs property is ecologically important because it is a vegetated link between the Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve and the Bass River and forms part of the only riparian forest left on the river. Farm activities were designed to minimise off-site and on-site impacts. All creek lines are vegetated to maintain water quality run off into the Bass. A study backed by the Federal Government's Envirofund program found that free range farming practices are viable and have minimal impacts on the environment. The study, carried out on five properties in the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Authority area showed that properly managed free range egg farms have many benefits - including long term sustainability. The Freeranger Farm was one of the participants and we believe that low density production is the key to sustainability. "It doesn't make any real difference whether you are running cattle, sheep or chooks, if your stocking rate is too high you will run into trouble" is our philosophy. It's hard to justify European farming practices in many parts of Australia - they simply don't work with our soil types and climate. The frequency of droughts is a clear example of the stupidity in trying to maintain exotic pastures and growing crops which require huge and unsustainable inputs. Apart from the massive problems of erosion and salinity, the inputs needed to maintain unrealistically high production levels create unhealthy nutrient loads and reduce farm viability over the years. The report demonstrates that stocking densities have a direct impact on feed costs. Supplementary feed inputs rose significantly as stocking rates increased. Once the results were produced in table form it was easy to see that a free range egg farm with a stocking rate of 9 Dry Sheep Equivalent (DSE) per hectare, produced an egg laying rate of 70% with feed consumption of 26 kg per bird per year. A farm with a stocking rate of 75 DSE per hectare produced a lay rate of 65% with feed consumption almost double at 48 kg per bird. At current prices that's an added cost of nearly $10 a year for each bird - which doesn't sound much until you multiply it over the whole flock. The Freeranger Farm is at the most productive end of the scale. Pasture management here has been aimed at increasing the amount of native grasses in the vegetated cover. The report showed that soils on the farm were acidic and had relatively low nutrient levels. We regarded it as counter productive to try to change the soil balance to favour exotic grasses and a management style was chosen with a preference for adapting farm practices to fit the natural soil types on this farm. Microlaena stipoides is one of Australia's most important native grasses with a widespread distribution in the eastern States. Its bright green colour, drought and frost resistance as well as shade tolerance make it superior to any non-native species as it has evolved for thousands of years in the dry and unpredictable Australian climate. It is easily out-competed by exotic grasses in neutral or alkaline soil conditions, preferring acidic soils like those at Grantville. During the trial, lime was only applied to small test sites. The majority of the pasture had no inputs other than chicken manure from the free-ranging hens and native grass coverage increased by about 25%.The regeneration of native shrubs and trees has also been encouraged. There is also a high level of activity by earthworms and dung beetles. We appear to have at least two types of dung beetles on the property because there is evidence of activity all year round and some species are known to be dormant over winter. The farm is a member of the Western Port Biosphere Reserve. Deep Ecology management practices reflect our view that our activities must have minimal negative impacts. We are a part of the environment, not apart from it.The environmental values of the farm were recognised in 2012 when we won the Energy Globe Award for Australia. We are encouraging more sustainable farms like ours to be established by making our eBook available and preparing webinars on setting up a farm. Details are on our website. The first webinar on setting up a free range farm is planned for World Egg Day next year – Friday October 11, assuming sufficient funds are raised in our crowd funding appeal at https://www.gofundme.com/2tar52c
Tuesday, July 03, 2018
Academic researchers often produce theories and reports designed to demonstrate what 'free range' means in the egg industry. Celebrity chefs usually confine themselves to mistaken comments that bright yolk colour defines that an an egg is free range. The fact is that Yolk colour varies, depending on the hen’s diet. If the yolk colour is always a bright, golden almost orange colour, the hens have almost certainly been fed colouring additives. Academic findings are usually based on carefully arranged criteria set by an organisation which funds the research and expects specific outcomes. Far better to rely on the experience of those in the industry actually running free range egg farms. Some people are fixated on the issue of animal welfare and they lose sight of matters like food safety and land sustainability. Outdoor stocking density is a key example. Academics found it easy to come up with results from research on small scale or short term projects to demonstrate that stocking densities had little or no impact on hen welfare. But it has been impossible for them to demonstrate that high densities had no detrimental impact on pasture quality, pollution of waterways, groundwater and the long term productivity of the land as a result of excessive nutrient loads. The maximum sustainable stocking density for poultry has been established at 1500 hens per hectare to minimise land degredation and ensure the long-term viability of the land. Laying hens, like most if not all other animals, perform best when they are able to follow their natural behaviour. They clearly need shelter, food and water but they also need to wander around freely to forage, scratch, dust bathe and interact socially with others in the flock.
Monday, July 02, 2018
There’s well known controversy about the definition of free range egg production and as a result there is a huge opportunity to enter the market by setting up your own free range business. There are two simple steps to help with the decision-making process – purchase an eBook from Freeranger Eggs on setting up a farm and donating to a crowd funding appeal to develop a series of webinars specially designed to provide answers.Encouraging more people to set up genuine free range farms is the driving force behind our crowd funding appeal which will allow top quality webinars to be developed and presented. 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 has 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. Once the target is reached, the webinars will be free and all participants will receive a copy of our eBook.The Crowd Funding appeal is at:https://www.gofundme.com/2tar52c