Saturday, December 26, 2020

Latest electric Tractor from the US

Monarch Tractors in the US has introduced an all electric tractor. It's not available in Australia yet but when it is I'd like to put it through its paces on the farm. In my days of editor of Power Farming magazine, we often had tractors and other farm machinery here for evaluation.Once manufacturers provide equipment for us to work with, we will undergo on-farm testing, set up a small farm equipment blog,YouTube channel and Facebook page to provide reports as well as sending details to traditional farm media outlets and publishing on our existing blog and facebook page.We will provide assessments on a wide range of machinery designed for small farms - so don't expect features on 800 hp tractors and other machinery aimed at broadacre farmers. The Monarch is able to operate with or without a driver, using autonomous technologies to offer driver-optional operations. It can perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver, or can follow a worker on the farm. Other manufacturers, such as John Deere have also come with electric models which we would like to assess along with a wide range of other farm machinery and equipment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Insect protein powder for chickens

 Most of us have heard of protein shakes for people, but how about protein powder for chooks? A Melbourne company has developed a protein powder from insect larvae and here at Freeranger Eggs, we are sampling the product to see how the hens like it in their feed. Poultry feed is responsible for 60-80% of the total production cost of eggs with the protein ingredient accounting for about 70% of the total feed bill. Most poultry fed currently depends on meat,fish or soy meal as the main protein ingredientsThe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommends insects as an alternative protein source in poultry feed . The Melbourne company is Karma3 Technologies, its chairman is former CSIRO scientist Professor Paul Wood and we will be pleased to see how the sample goes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Big demand for information on setting up a freerange farm

Our eBook on how to set up a sustainable freerange farm is even more valuable now the clear consumer demand for free range eggs has generated a strong increase in the number of people thinking about starting their own free range businesses.

Small, ethical and sustainable farm businesses can be established to service local communities.

A good starting point is reading our(pdf) eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website

Detailed information is available on the Freeranger Club downloads page about things like shed requirements, food safety, egg packaging and labelling.

When deciding to set up a free range egg farm, take the time to plan it properly. Find out the zoning of the land and talk to your local Council planning department about their requirements. It’s also worth contacting the State Department of Agriculture. You can find on-line resources in most states. Once that is sorted, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have before you get underway.


Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Europeans show that intensive egg farms are a health hazard

Studies by the European Food Safety Authority have shown that chickens in cage production facilities have higher rates of contamination from salmonella virus strains compared to free range farms.The EFSA assesses risks throughout the food chain. 

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Hatcheries slow to implement embryo identification


Chicken egg hatcheries in Australia have not yet implemented systems which eliminate the practise of euthanising day old male chicks – even though the technology has been available since 2016. As well as solving an animal welfare issue which has plagued the industry, it will lead to significant cost savings.

Trade body, Egg Farmers of Ontario patented a process which it says can determine the sex of a chick before incubation.

General manager, Harry Pelissero, said since 2016, machinery manufacturers had a prototype candling device that can sex eggs in a hatchery.

They found a way to analyze within seconds the chemical makeup of gases leaking from the pores of an egg to determine the sex of the embryo inside.

Scientist at Leipzig Unversity have also developed an embryo identification system.

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud said the Government was co-funding research by Australian Eggs “to explore the use of laser spectroscopy to distinguish between male and female fertile eggs”. Victoria's agriculture Minister, Jaclyn Symes said "The government has committed to modernising Victoria's animal welfare laws to improve the safeguarding of animal welfare and enable a more effective response when people mistreat animals. In line with the recommendations of the Activism Inquiry, the work to develop subordinate legislation for the new Act will include consideration of alternative practices in the treatment and management of male chicks in the egg industry."

Thursday, December 03, 2020

New animal welfare act for Victoria


Egg farmers and consumers have been asked to comment on plans for a new animal welfare act in Victoria.The State Government wants feedback on its proposals for the new Act which will replace thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986).

The government says the old legislation is outdated after 30 years and some parts do not work as well as they could.

feedback on the proposals will inform the development of a draft Bill (the draft text of an Act before it is debated and passed in Parliament) for a new animal welfare Act.

Details: Help shape a new animal welfare Act :: Engage Victoria

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Australian Eggs wants to become a lobby group


The marketing and research body, Australian Eggs is asking the Department of Agriculture to allow it to broaden activities by undertaking industry representation-activities currently provided by Egg Farmers of Australia.

It says the key benefit of Australian Eggs taking over industry representation would be secure funding for policy development and advocacy through marketing levies on replacement chicks.
It says the organisation’s primary focus will remain research and development. Egg farmers need to say if they think the change is a good idea. An electronic poll of levy-paying egg producers will be conducted in early December to gauge opinions.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Benefits of VPN


After installing a Virtual Private Network(VPN) on our farm PC, the number of invasive pop-up ads has been cut substantially when surfing the net. My location shows up as Moldova (Romania) rather than Australia.

A minor issue is that I need to switch off VPN when accessing Facebook, editing the farm blog or website. We are using Avira Phantom VPN Pro.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

An end to culling male chicks


We have asked the Federal Government if it plans to encourage chicken hatcheries in this country to adopt new developments in egg-sexing technology which will end the hatching and culling of male layer chicks. With millions of male chicks culled here every year, the adoption of egg-sexing technologies will not only address ethical concerns, but also save producers significant resources. In-ovo sexing technology is freely available to hatcheries. It offers major cost savings for hatcheries and addresses welfare concerns. France and Germany have undertaken to ban culling unwanted male chicks by the end of 2021, as part of animal welfare reforms.  It is hoped that Chicken hatcheries throughout Australia will soon end the practice of euthanising day old male chicks, removing one of the key objections to poultry farms by animal activist groups.

The Canadian industry body,, Egg Farmers of Ontario  has a process which it says can determine the sex of a chick before eggs are incubated. German scientists have also developed a process to identify embryos.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Coronaviris in chickens


Covid 19 is just one Coronavirus. It’s in the news as it happens to be one that infects humans but there are many others, just as virulent, which can be contracted by animals. Dr. Mark Jackwood is a molecular virologist at the University of Georgia. His primary area of research is the study of avian coronaviruses. Specifically, he works with infectious bronchitis  a virus that causes upper-respiratory disease in chickens Dr. Jackwood’s work involves the use of molecular techniques for the identification, characterization, and control of the virus. He is regarded as one of the leading experts in his field. Thankfully a vaccine was developed some years ago and is widely used to protect poultry. Anyone buying poultry should ensure that the birds have been vaccinated against Infectious Bronchitis as well as Mareks Disease, Newcastle Disease, Infectious Laryo Tracheitis, Avian Encaphaomyalitis, Egg Drop Syndrome and Fowl Pox. With quality food, clean water and good animal husbandry, the birds should live long and productive lives. They will be at risk when kept in overcrowded conditions with little or no outdoor access and adequate sunlight.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Setting up a farm as a lifestyle and business opportunity


Clear consumer demand for free range eggs has generated a strong increase in the number of people thinking about starting their own free range egg business.

A good starting point is reading the eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website Detailed information is available on the Freeranger Club downloads page about things like shed requirements, food safety, egg packaging and labelling.

When deciding to set up a free range egg farm, take the time to plan it properly. Find out the zoning of the land and talk to your local Council planning department about their requirements. It’s also worth contacting the State Department of Agriculture. You can find on-line resources in most states. Once that is sorted, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have before you get underway.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

 With the easing of Covid19 restrictions in regional Victoria  we could see an improvement in business activity. There is unlikely to be a major boost because most restaurants and other outlets in this region rely heavily on visitors from Melbourne - which is still locked down.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Melbourne's lockdown extension may result in poultry slaughter


An extension of Melbourne's Covid19 lockdown as a result of more State Government emergency powers supported by cross bench members in the Legislative Council, will almost certainly result in the deaths of thousands of poultry on egg farms. The closure of restaurants and shops resulted in a dramatic drop in sales which has left many farms unviable and farmers simply can’t afford to feed their chickens. It’s no surprise that the Green’s Samantha Ratnam gave in to the State Government plans because the party has no understanding of argiculture or animal welfare issues but it is odd thatAndy Meddick of the Animal Justice Party took that step as animal welfare is said to be a key plank of AJP policies. Leading epidemiologists have expressed concerns that a lockdown extention will provide little or no medical benefit.Modelling options used by Government advisers should be revealed.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Corporate egg producers call for an end to free range production


Major egg producers are using the recent avian influenza outbreaks in Victoria as an opportunity to kill off genuine free range production. They want all hens to be locked in sheds.

The Victorian Farmers Federation Egg Group president Brian Ahmed speculated that the strains of AI travelled between wild and farmed birds due to heavy rainfall this winter.

"The extra rainfall and water accumulated around farms, and of course wild birds being the known carriers of this virus — you could say all the ducks have lined up in a row," Mr Ahmed” told the ABC.

"If we keep letting them out during this high risk time, it'll keep spreading.

"The only way is to lock up every bird" he added. In the interview, Mr Ahmed acknowledgeed that the definition of free range should limit the number of hens on a farm to less than 1000.

His commentrs ignore the reality that in many cases the outbreaks of Various diseases are spread by management practices on intensive production facilities, particularloy the movement of products and staff between many sites. With small flocks and good biosecurity, outbreaks would be very limited and widespread culling would not be necessary.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Farm gate sales


Our farm gate sales have slowed in recent weeks which seems to indicate that many of our sales were to people on their way back to Melbourne. With the metropolitan lock down, highway traffic here has been very limited. We assumed that most of our gate sales were locals but that doesn’t seem to be the case as our sales at local outlets are still strong. The big yellow cool box in the driveway allows for contact-less pick up.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Point of lay Isa Brown pullets available now

 Demand from people wanting hens for their backyards is still strong with the panic  caused by the Covid19 pandemic. Keeping up a private egg supply is a great way to cut down on shopping trips and maintain food security. We are still getting three or four enquiries every week and buyers come to the farm to pick up two or three at a time. The pullets are all vaccinated, they are used to being handled and are not scared of dogs. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Farm Pride revenue slashed by $20 million


Farm Pride Foods, one of the biggest Australian egg producers expects the avian influenza outbreak in Victoria to slash this year’s revenue by at least $20 million. The company has a major facility at Lethbridge which is within the forced lockdown area required by Agriculture Victoria. Intensive ‘freerange’ production is a vital income-earner for all egg producers who sell in supermarkets.

Friday, August 07, 2020

High stocking densities spread disease

Barn eggs produced on properties in Golden Plains Shire are legally allowed to be sold as free range even though the hens are permanently locked in sheds. Following a second outbreak of Avian Influenza on properties near Lethbridge, Agriculture Victoria has ordered producers in the area to prevent hens from leaving sheds even if the eggs are labelled as ‘free range’ The forced lockdown is for 30 days. The ACCC has advised that it will not take action under consumer law for mislabelling eggs as free range even though the hens are confined to sheds. But it says that  labelling should show a change in production methods.

This demonstrates the stupidity of politicians in allowing an intensive standard for free range production.. Disease outbreaks are inevitable on intensive farms wth tens of thousands of hens. It's time to revert to the maximum1500 hens per hectare outdoor density allowed in the Model Code.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Bird Flu will hit Australian egg exports

South Korea has banned poultry and egg imports from Australia following an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in Victoria. The ban could cost the industry $20 million this year. Under the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Australian egg exports were expected to reach at least $20m partly because of Korea’s preference for brown shell eggs, rather than the white shells commonly produced in Europe and North America. Avian influenza was detected this week at a free-range egg farm near Lethbridge, western Victoria. Agriculture Victoria announced that the farm tested positive for the H7N7 avian influenza virus. The property has been quarantined and all 43,000 birds are being destroyed to stop the spread of the virus. Movement controls are in place throughout Golden Plains Shire.H7N7 is a subtype of the Influenza A virus, in the Orthomyxoviridae family.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Fight for Planet A

Free range farming can help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the importance of sustainable agriculture. Freeranger Eggs at Grantville is an example of sustainable farming.

Freeranger Eggs is doing more than Governments to combat carbon emissions and climate change.

The Freeranger Eggs farm management plan takes a three pillars approach to how the farm operates. Animal welfare is one pillar, but equally important are land sustainability and food safety. Growth is not a part of our philosophy. we need to encourage people to set up more farms, not upscale existing farms. We believe that will support more people working the land fairly and will ensure long-term food security.

Despite all the political bickering 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 program.

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.

Loss of biological diversity in agriculture is a growing global problem. The lack of diversity created by monocultures and a dependence on costly agrochemicals, fertilisers and seeds, is resulting in the loss of genetic heritage in agriculture.

The Freeranger 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 egg farms

Freeranger Eggs gained international recognition in 2012 as the Australian winner of the Energy Globe Award.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ranking well on Google is good but what benefit in being No 1?

In this modern age, electronics play a key role in life, a website is essential for any business – but there is no need for it to be a costly undertaking. We set up our own website using the Weebly platform and have undertaken Search Engine optmisation ourselves. A professional SEO operator may have done a better job but it probably would not have been cost effective. Our eggs already regularly sell out so there is no economic benefit in being number1 on Google – which the SEO people say they can do for us. A higher ranking cannot inctrease our sales because each week we have nothing left to sell..

On our latest check of search engine optimisation, appears to be ranking well on Google for keywords such as freerange eggs. Analysis suggests we need to increase the number of referring domains – we currently have just 58 compared with 972 for Australian Eggs.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Chickens love roosting in trees

Our hens spend hours each day sitting in trees or shrubs in their paddocks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

How to keep up vitaminD levels in Covid 19 lockdown

The Covid 19 pandemic has increased the problem of vitamin D deficiencies. As people have been more confined indoors, they have been cut off from the beneficial effects of sunlight. It is common for vitamin D deficienies to range from 20 to 36%. Food high in vitamin D are essential to maintain health, and eggs are at the top of the pile. Especially free range eggs laid by hens with unrestricted access to sunlight as they roam over pasture. protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B2 iodine and selenium. They also contain vitamin A, calcium, phosphorous, folate, biotin, choline, thiamine and pantothenic acid as well as beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and very little damaging cholesterol.
A couple eggs a day for an adult provides over 80% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D as well as many other essential minerals and nutrients,protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B2 iodine and selenium. They also contain vitamin A, calcium, phosphorous, folate, biotin, choline, thiamine and pantothenic acid as well as beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and very little damaging cholesterol. More information on our website

Friday, July 17, 2020

Lobby Groups' push for more cuts in farm animal welfare standards may pose food safety issues for consumers

Changes are being drafted to national standards and guidelines for farm animal welfare. New standards will replace current Model Codes of practice for many farm animals. The Model Code which covered free range poultry has already been thrown out by politicians and replaced with an absurdly high stocking density standard. Under the Code, Free range density was limited to a maximum of 15,000 hens per hectare but politicians trashed that and approved 10,000 hens per hectare to be classified as free range – putting hens and consumers at risk through the build up of pathogens. Despite their victory on conning politicians lobby groups and industrial-scale producers will push for an even more extreme relaxation of standards. This may be the last opportunity to return sanity to the issue of stocking density as there was  no scienece behind the move to allow an intensive density. It's not just a  welfare issue. Such high stocking rates contaminate soils and waterways.
The standards and guidelines are being developed under the direction of an Animal Welfare Task Group, which includes representatives from each of the departments responsible for animal welfare, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries. standards and guidelines currently under development, public consultation and endorsed standards and guidelines for farm animals are available at

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Setting up a free range farm business

Anyone thinking about making a career or lifestyle change should think about free range farming.
Clear consumer demand for free range eggs has generated a strong increase in the number of people wanting to start their own free range egg business.
A good starting point is reading the eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website: . Detailed information is available on the Freeranger Club downloads page about things like shed requirements, food safety, egg packaging and labelling.
When you decide to set up a free range egg farm, take the time to plan it properly. Find out the zoning of the land and talk to your local Council planning department about their requirements. It’s also worth contacting the State Department of Agriculture. You can find on-line resources in most states. In Victoria, contact: Once that is sorted, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have before you get underway. However, don't even think about it if you want a business to provide you with a Mercedes every time a new model is released and you expect an overseas holiday every year or two - open a Mcdonald's franchise instead.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

free range hens lay more eggs

Researchers at the University of New England have confirmed that free range hens are more productive and lay more eggs, compared with hens kept in cages or locked in sheds. They found that ranging hens produce more eggs not only because they range, but because they seem to have a more vigorous approach to life. The academics confirmed knowledge gained by free range farmers everywhere. The research seems to suggest that even hens kept in intensive conditions on dodgy free range laying facilities with 10,000 hens per hectare lay more eggs. The University of New England researchers, led by Dr Isabelle Ruhnke tracked over15,000 hens on five production sheds from the time a flock was placed at16 weeks old to when they were removed at 74 weeks of age. The researchers said the first major finding to emerge from the resulting data was that those hens who preferred to range outside began laying earlier. They also produced about 15 percent more eggs at 22 weeks of age than those who prefer to stay inside. For the intensive operations, the increased output can translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra revenue each year. Part of the reason for bigger profits is that feed costs are reduced. Feed represents up to 70 percent of the cost of egg production and when hens are confined they are only able eat feed available in the shed, but when outside they can also eat their natural diet of other seeds, grasses and insects. To see how a real free range farm operates, check out the freeranger Eggs website

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Calcium in poultry diet may reduce problems with salmonella

Researchers at at Texas A&M University recently completed a project on the role calcium plays in the intestinal health of poultry, particularly in relation to the development of salmonella. Dr. Audrey McElroy conducted two experiments to better define the involvement of calcium in the diet. Data showed that dietary calcium, contributes to intestinal health and bird performance.It may be as important as low stocking densities in preventing salmonella contamination.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

More free range farms needed

Genuine free range farms have been swamped by demand for eggs as consumers have realised that eggs in major supermarkets are not the real thing but are all from intensive production systems. Real free range farms like ours, sell out all the time, so there is a huge need for more producers to meet expectations. Following strong consumer demand, anyone can set up their own free range egg farm. What’s needed is a little help to get established. Freeranger Eggs, has always encouraged people to set up their own free range farms producing eggs for their local communities. Workshops have been run on the farm, demonstrating how to do it. An eBook has also been produced, going through all the steps needed for a successful venture. Check out the website

Sunday, June 28, 2020

preparing pasture

Preparing land for grazing can be a tedious process but it helps to have the right equipment – a tractor with a cab is good and a decent flail mower is ideal. At the time we were developing the farm, it was great that we had an array of tractors and equipment to test as I was editing Power Farming magazine. In the future I would like to get back into writing about tractors and farm machinery and publishing reports on YouTube and  a small farm machinery facebook group. All that's needed is for manufacturers to provide machinery for review on the farm. Our current farm workhorses are a kubotaL185DT and a Jinma 354.It will be great to test a small dozer or tracked tractor as well as mowers, power harrows and even a modern baler.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Politicians allow algal blooms

Algal blooms in rivers and waterways are generally a result of political indifference and poor land management. Claimsin Britain that the ‘ecological disaster’ of algal blooms facing ‘the Wye River is said to be a by-product of intensive production of free-range eggs. Ecologists say that recent expansion of chicken farming in rural Powys, with the headwaters of the Wye and its tributaries is responsible for high levels of phosphates entering the river and fuelling the blooms. Genuine freerange egg production is small-scale, with limited flock sizes and low stocking densities but the reality is that both here and the UK virtually all eggs labelled free-range come from vast Intensive Poultry Units. These huge egg factories, which often house 50,000 to 100,000 birds, dump enormous volumes of manure on the farm land , the high nutrient load inevitably runs off into river systems and leaches into groundwater. Politicians here allow an outdoor stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare which is close to 10 times the sustainable limit.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Another egg farm Salmonella E.outbreak in Victoria

A commercial egg farm west of Melbourne has tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), a bacterial infection that can cause illness in humans. Agriculture Victoria has not identified the farm but has placed a quarantine order on it. Eggs will only be permitted to move off the farm for processing by pulping and pasteurisation at an approved facility. Agriculture Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services are working to investigate this incident, including tracing of eggs, possible links with previous salmonella incidents and laying hens from the infected farm. The collection of ‘spent’ hens may be a factor in the investigation. To protect consumers, it's hard to understand why the labels have not been identified and product recalls ordered as has been the case in most other incidents.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Chicken eggs are not bad for your heart

Chicken eggs are are regarded as a super food and a low cost source of protein as well as containing other key nutrients. They may be naturally high in cholesterol. But the cholesterol in eggs doesn't raise cholesterol levels in the body the way other foods do, such as trans fats and saturated fats..studies have found no connection between dietary cholesterol in eggs and cholesterol levels in blood. There is absolutely no evidence that eating eggs is bad for your heart. A major study looked at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease and found no connection between the two. Most healthy people can eat seven eggs a week without increasing their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption may even help prevent certain types of stroke and a serious eye condition called macular degeneration that can lead to blindness. The white of a typical egg contains more than half the protein of the egg. Egg whites are free of fat, and they contain vitamins and minerals. But the yolk contains all the essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

water pollution is a major result of intensive egg production. Australia's 'free range' standards need to be changed

Intensive egg farms are causing water pollution all over the world. Here’s part of a report in the UK’s Times newspaper. The Wye Valley is a centre for the poultry industry. Modern, multitiered units with as many as 64,000 hens on one farm are dotted near the banks of the river and its tributaries in Powys and Herefordshire. These farms produce tens of millions of free-range eggs a year — including Britain’s most popular brand, the Happy Egg Company — and thousands of tons of manure. Pollutants that wash off farmland are blamed for contaminating the Wye with phosphates, fuelling blooms of thick algae that can suffocate a river.Australia's politicians are allowing pollution on an industrial scale following their approval of a ridiculous standard of 10,000 hems per hectare to be classified as free range production when the previous maximum was 1500. An average chicken produces half a cubic metre of manure per year, meaninhg that at 10,000 hens per hectare, every year a pile of 5000 cubic metres of manure is deposited on each hectare of land.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Allergies and sensitivities

Research on food sensitivities often centres on eggs, when it may be additives used in poultry feed rather than a lack of tolerance for eggs themselves. There are widespread problems with colouring additives in poultry feed. All major egg producers and many small ones - even those which claim to be free range and organic - use colouring additives in the feed they give their hens. The use is completely unnecessary in a genuine free range flock, as hens running on quality pasture and at low stocking densities obtain enough carotenoids from the green feed in the paddock to maintain good yolk colour. The colour will vary – depending on the time of year and what each hen has been eating – but many egg producers want to con consumers by using additives to provide consistent, bright yolk colour. Many of those additives are synthetic - adding to the chemical cocktail mix in food. But even those which are claimed to be 'natural' are manufactured in factories – often in China. What the manufacturers mean by using the word 'natural' is that the additives may be derived from natural products but are processed and concentrated into a powder or liquid. Three of the most widely used egg yolk pigmenters are: Canthaxanin or Canthaxanthin which appears to be an unsafe additive. It can cause diarrhoea, nausea, stomach cramps, dry and itchy skin, hives, orange or red body secretions, and other side effects. Do not use canthaxanthin if you experience breathing problems; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat; a skin rash or hives; you are pregnant or breast-feeding or you are allergic to vitamin A or carotenoids. Capsicum Allergic reactions to capsicum may occur. Stop eating eggs with capsicum-based colouring and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives. Other less serious side effects have also been reported. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider if you experience upset stomach; heartburn; diarrhoea; migraine attacks or burning sensation in the mouth or throat. Use of Capsicum is not recommended if you are pregnant. If you are or will be breast-feeding while eating food containing Capsicum, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your baby. Capsicum colourings can bring on anaphylactic shock. See details about which plants generate these problems on this site at the University of Maryland: Marigold Some people experience breathing problems, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat. A skin rash or hives may occur. More details on our website:

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Scientist says intensive agriculture could create a pandemic worse than COVID19

Dr Michael Greger, a US nutritionist, claims that intensive animal husbandry makes us vulnerable to a pandemic worse than COVID19. He predicts that a real plague such as bird flue could wipe out half the world population. Dr Greger, a vegan, is founder of which provides details of new developments in nutrition science. He has written a book ‘How To Survive A Pandemic’ where he states that “as long as there is poultry, there will be pandemics", adding: "In the end, it may be us or them". He says the mass farms where chickens live in such tight spaces they cannot flap their wings and the high ammonia level from their droppings are a recipe for disease. He says we need to shift from the mass production of chickens to smaller flocks that are raised in less crowded spaces with outdoor access, better hygiene and without the use of human antivirals. As he is a vegan, his views may be regarded by some as extreme, but many seehis comments as valid. Dr Greger adds that unatural egg production should stop.

Friday, May 29, 2020

More Salmonella cases from supermarket eggs

Six people are reported to have become ill with salmonella poisoning after eating eggs bought in a Victorian supermarket. Salmonella Enteritids is a bacterial disease of poultry which can cause gastroenteritis in people. The outbreak follows major incidents last year involving at least 12 intensive farms. The current problem is believed to include eggs from a number of producers which seems to indicate that food safety regulations are a waste of time in Australia. The Department of Health is still investigating the source. The message is clear - don't buy eggs in stupidmarkets. They are fine for household items like toothpaste, toilet paper and detergents - but not for fresh food. No food safety recalls have yet been made and consumers have not been advised about which egg brandsto avoid. The only information provided is that the eggs were bought in Coles at Werribee. Eggs from the same suppliers will be available in other stupidmarkets.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Farm training scholarships

Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes has launched a young farmers scholarship, which provides$10,000 for successful applicants to study and train in areas such as business and risk management, genetics and pasture management development. Workers on egg farms are eligible to participate in the program. Further funding of up to $5,000 is available to put new skills into practice in fields such as professional development and business planning, or to invest in on-farm practices, equipment and technology.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Freerange Eggs website

Freeranger Eggs is a multi- platform business. Our main activity is operating a sustainable farm producing free range eggs for customers in our local area. We use our website , this blog and our facebook page as educational tools to provide clear information to consumers – and also to encourage the establishment of other low density farms, Free range eggs are a niche market in a boutique industry and industrial-scale producers should not use the term ‘free range’. Our eBook on setting up a free range farm is available through our website.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

More email enquiries

In recent weeks we have been receiving more enquiries through the freeranger website which is probably a result of people spending more time on line. The extra enquiries don’t increase our sales as we always sell everything we produce anyway.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Consumer survey on egg industry

Consumers have an opportunity to express their views about the egg industry. The latest part of a community survey to explore the impacts of the egg industry is now open. Funded by Australian Eggs, the research by CSIRO is part of a three-year program examining the relationship between the egg industry and the Australian community. To take part in this survey click on

No change as a result of coronavirus

Not much has changed on the farm as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. The daily work is constant – collecting eggs, checking feed and water. Our larder has always been well stocked which means that there is no shortage of things to eat. We still sell all the eggs we produce – so the only noticeable difference is our internet service is slower than normal, presumably because so many more people are working from home and children are home-schooling.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Cutting deliveries to Phillip Island

It’s always a delicate balancing act for a small free range farm working out sales and distribution to maintain viability. After much thought, we have stopped egg deliveries to Phillip Island. The island has been a part of our business since we set up the farm but the COVID19 pandemic has forced the need to restrict sales close to home. Our eggs are still available at the farm as well as close outlets – the Grantville Pantry, Macca’s Farm Glen Forbes, Corinella Store and San Remo butcher.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The need for food security

Recent panic buying chaos as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the need for food security. For years we have taken the view that every township and community should have its own egg farm. Our ebook and farm workshops have all been aimed at encouraging people to set up their own free range farm. We planned a series of webinars to take the concept further afield but unfortunately we couldn’t raise any interest in the crowd funding community so that project was abandoned. We will run a series of webinars if funding vbecomes available. It doesn’t make sense for eggs and other essential food to be trucked around the country to a point of sale which may be in another state. In these difficult times, people love the idea of producing their own food so we have been inundated with requests to sell hens for backyard flocks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

200 pullets will help to maintain production

An extra 200 Isa Brown pullets were delivered today to augment one of our flocks and help meet the demand for eggs. Conventional wisdom says that young birds should be kept separate from older hens to limit aggression and potential cannibalism. But we have found that pullets settle into the farm more quickly if they become part of an established flock. The older hens show the youngsters where to lay in nest boxes rather than on the ground. Cannibalism is only a significant problem on intensive farms running 10,000 hens per hectare.They should be called intensive production facilities rather than farms. As a genuine free range farm With our low stocking density and ample ground cover, the hens are relaxed and have plenty of room to escape from any aggressors.With the extra hens in one flock we are able to sell some hens to people who are clamouring for hens to lay eggs in their back yards.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Egg quality depends on good feed

Current feed prices for laying hens are over $550 a tonne as a result of poor grains harvests in much of Australia. It’s essential to provide chickens with top quality feed for anyone wanting to produce goods eggs and maintain bird health. The right feed and regular access to pasture will ensure peak laying and premium egg production. Diets need to be formulated for specific breeds.Formulations include: wheat, barley and corn, protein content may be soybean meal, canola, peas, lupins plus salt, bicarb, lime, Dicalcium Phosphatend other trace minerals. Lime grit size needs to be 2-4mms to be effective in the diet which should be a mash ration. Pelleted or crumbled diets are not beneficial for laying hens.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Better nutrition in free range eggs

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 whether or not an egg is free range. 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 funded the research and expected 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. There is growing evidence that eggs from hens raised on pasture have nutritional benefits over the factory farm versions. In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens. In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs. A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher Omega 3 and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens. A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the Omega 3 compared to the standard USDA data. In 2003, another study at Pennsylvania State University found that pastured eggs had three times more Omega 3, 220 % more vitamin E and 62 % more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.

Eggs may help develop a Covid19 vaccine

Eggs used as a growing medium for virus research may help to find a cure for the Covid19 infection sweeping the world. One drug undergoing evaluation is chloroquine which was developed to fight malaria but has been shown to have an impact on corona viruses.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Benefits of setting up a free range farm

Anyone thinking about making a career or lifestyle change could think about free range farming. Clear consumer demand for free range eggs has generated a strong increase in the number of people wanting to start their own free range egg business. As well as making a living, a successful farm has significant environmental benefits. A good starting point is reading the eBook on starting a free range farm available on the Freeranger Eggs website: . Detailed information is available on the Freeranger Club downloads page about things like shed requirements, food safety, egg packaging and labelling. When you decide to set up a free range egg farm, take the time to plan it properly. Find out the zoning of the land and talk to your local Council planning department about their requirements. It’s also worth contacting the State Department of Agriculture. You can find on-line resources in most states. In Victoria, contact: Once that is sorted, talk to your Council Environmental Health Department about any specific requirements they have before you get underway.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Maremmas protect all our flocks

Maremma guardian dogs protect all our flocks from predators they work equally well with sheep and chickens.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Where our food comes from

For many years before factory farming and mass production became common, it was easy for consumers to see where food came from. Eggs, dairy, meat and vegetables often grew on nearby farms and usually meat was bought at a local butcher. Today, the majority of people buy food at massive supermarkets(stupidmarkets) because they are seen as convenient. Many butchers, greengrocers, fruiterers and fishmongers have disappeared because even though they usually provide superior food, customers are beguiled by the bright lights and slick advertising of the major retailers. It’s the same with farms, A look at supermarket shelves reveals a vast array of eggs labelled free range – but in reality all those eggs are from intensive farms. To meet the regular volume of eggs demanded by major stupidmarkets, egg producers are required to buy in eggs from around the country. Custoners know they can rely on the quality of Freeranger Eggs which are all laid by hens on our farm.