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.