Thursday, October 13, 2016

Starting a free range farm webinar

We have run workshops on the farm for those wanting to start their own free range egg farm but now we are planning to encourage many more people by developing a series of webinars. They should allow us to reach hundreds rather than a handful who attend workshops. Details here

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Reasons behind "stupid" free range decision

This is part of the submission by Egg Farmers of Australia in which they acknowledged that most egg producers would have been unable to meet higher standards. Even so this helped to con Ministers into making their absurd 'free range' decision: "Egg Farmers of Australia have been disappointed by the scope and analytical basis of regulatory intervention to date and the impact it has had in creating uncertainty as to the definition of free range eggs. The prospect that the approach of 'most birds outside on most ordinary days' could be incorporated into a free range labelling standard is deeply concerning and Egg Farmers urges the Treasury not to characterise the relevant ‘problem’ to be addressed on this basis. This is because the 'most birds, most days’ approach: a) is flawed in that is seeks to define free range by reference to specific misrepresentations that have been the subject of enforcement action; b) is based on case law which has not considered, and cannot provide meaningful guidance on the meaning of free range; and c) would significantly distort the competitive process by imposing a definition of free range that the vast majority of free range egg suppliers could not be confident they could meet. Egg Farmers proposes a basic information standard based on the published Egg Farmers definition of free range eggs. This definition provides that laying hens in free range farming systems: a) are unconfined within a ventilated hen house; b) have meaningful access to and are free to roam and forage on an outdoor range area during daylight hours in a managed environment; and c) a maximum outdoor stocking density of one hen per square metre". That is 10,000 hens per hectare which has a stupid result. A laying hen produces half a cubic metre of manure a year. So with a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare approved by Ministers for Consumer Affairs, farmers who follow their advice 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.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Australian ministers allow massive land degredation

Intensive egg production standards approved by Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the former Federal Minister for Small Business may lead to extensive land degredation across Australia. The Ministers have allowed farms with 10,000 hens per hectare to legally describe the eggs they produce as free range. But their decision was made without regard for the level of contamination caused by high nutrient loads. At the approved outdoor stocking density the hens will produce 5000 cubic metres of manure a year on each hectare and the nutrient mass balance on the land will be totally unsustainable. Nitrogen will be spread at the rate of 1780kg per hectare. Phosphorus at 7000 kg potassium at 3520kg and sulphur at 1760kg.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New standards to replace Australia's Model Code for Poultry

New animal welfare standards and guidelines are being drafted for poultry – to replace the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Domestic Poultry). One benefit of the new standards will be that they will be supposed to apply evenly throughout Australia, instead of the fragmented adoption of regulations in the Model Code. Animal Health Australia is developing the new standards, which it says will provide a basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia, and provide guidance for all people responsible for poultry. They will aim to reflect contemporary scientific knowledge, provide competent animal husbandry advice, meet mainstream community expectations, that can be maintained and enforced in a consistent, cost-effective manner. The rationale is to achieve a measurable increase in best practice guidelines and industry verification systems and tools for animal welfare to support market access and to ensure that consistent and harmonised animal welfare arrangements across jurisdictions deliver consistent outcomes. The development process will allow industry to examine poultry welfare issues and determine a suitable industry position that meets community expectations. The Australian state and territory governments are responsible for the regulation of animal welfare in Australia. Under the Federal Constitution, States and Territories have the primary jurisdiction for animal welfare within Australia. A stakeholder Advisory group will be established to assist with the development of the standards which are expected to provide the basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia. It remains to be seen how effective the new standards will be, but we can live in hope that they will be fair and workable.Public consultation is expected to begin in November but decisions have probably already been made to adopt standards favoured by the corporate producers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Free range debate should be about much more than animal welfare

The free range egg debate has been hijacked by animal welfare activists – and academic researchers are putting all their efforts into demonstrating that low stocking densities don't necessarily produce better welfare outcomes. We believe that the focus should be on land sustainability. Intensive systems are more likely to lead to land degredation and pollution – limiting the life of any farming venture and the viability of the land. What seems to be ignored is that a fully grown hen produces about half a metre of manure a year – so 10,000 hens per hectare deposit 5000 cubic metres of manure on each hectare of land. The excessive nutrient load is likely to transform the farm into an unproductive wasteland. Unfortunately free range farmers were unable to agree on a cohesive approach and left the lobbying of politicians and bureaucrats to the industrial-scale egg producers, grocers and animal welfare groups. So free range farmers really only have themselves to blame for the current mess.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Freeranger Club helps free range egg farmers

The Freeranger Club has been established to help anyone producing free range eggs in Australia or planning to set up a free range farm. There has been growing demand for information following the ridiculous decision on a free range standard made by Australia's incompetent Ministers for Consumer Affairs and Small Business. Details are on the Freeranger Eggs website

Sunday, July 03, 2016

ACCC waiting to pounce on more dodgy free range egg producers

Free Range egg farmers in Australia who follow the outdoor stocking densities set out by Ministers for Consumer Affairs and the Federal Minister for Small Business, in their recent decision on a free range standard are likely to face prosecution by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The ACCC has produced a guide to help hen egg farmers of all sizes understand their fair trading rights and obligations when promoting or selling free range eggs. The guide also informs consumers and the public about the ACCC’s approach to free range egg claims, which are made on labels. On 31 March 2016 Australian Consumer Affairs Ministers said they wanted an information standard for free range eggs to be in place within 12 months. The information standard is not currently enforceable as reforms to give effect to the new regulations have not been introduced or passed by Parliament. The ACCC will amend its guidance as the information standard progresses.…/accc-enforcement-guidance-free-range-…