Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Research into 'free range' meaning

Research conducted by Hannah Larsen and Dr Jean-Loup Rault, of Melbourne University has been helping to define what 'free range' means. Government standards such as 'meaningful and regular access to the outdoors' and a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare are completely inadequate and reflect intensive, industrial-scale production methods - that's not farming. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has better guidelines, such as 'hens are able to move about freely on an open range on most days.The research by Melbourne University, funded by the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd was designed to demonstrate how many hens in a flock actually use the range area. The findings are published on the AECL website. See a summary here: https://www.aecl.org/assets/www.aecl.org/outputs/1UM121-Summary.pdf

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sunlight affects egg quality

Free range eggs are a good source of dietary vitamin D, each egg from hens that spend most of the day outdoors contains about 10% of the required daily value . The vitamin D is concentrated in the yolk. along with most other nutrients such as folic acid. Research in Britain has indicated that when hens are exposed to direct sunlight, they tend to lay paler shelled eggs. All eggs are initially white, and shell colour is the result of the pigments called porphyrins being deposited while the eggs are in the process of formation. In the case of the Rhode Island Red, the brown pigment,derived from haemoglobin in the blood, is what gives the shell its brown colour. Araucana hens produce a pigment called oocyanin, which is a product of bile formation, and results in blue or bluish-green shelled eggs. There is no relationship between egg quality and shell colour. Nutritionally they are the same, but it's always surprising how many people still think that brown eggs come from free-range hens while white ones come from caged hens!The nutritional difference is a result of feed and free access to pasture, grubs and insects

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Drilling starts on sand extraction site near Bass River

The peace and tranquility of life on the Freeranger farm, next to the Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve in West Gippsland seems set to be disrupted. A drilling rig appeared on a property next to us in Stanley Road on Tuesday afternoon. The site was purchased some years ago by a sand extraction company and permits were issued on the basis that there was an urgent need for additional sand resources to meet demand in Melbourne. one permit condition was that their extraction must not adversely impact on water flows through to the Bass River. Presumably the company is drilling in February in an effort to demonstrate that groundwater is limited. They are drilling on part of the site most likely to reveal no groundwater.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Farmers' markets losing their attraction in Victoria

Farmers' Markets seem to be losing their attraction in Victoria – probably because too many are now operating. In the early days they were useful vehicles for selling farm produce, but recently buyers have been put off by seeing markets set up all over the place, often with the same stallholders.The Department of Regional Development Victoria has splashed millions of taxpayers dollars in providing seeding grants for new markets which have sprung up like topsy. Producers are rebelling against exorbitant fees charged by some market managers. As a result of declining market sales, we no longer sell at farmers' markets. Churchill Island was our last farmers' market and when we complained that the new managers at Regional Farmers Markets Pty Ltd., were less than competent and needed to learn communication and marketing skills, they had a tantrum and banished us from the market. Didn't really matter because we were only waiting until after Easter to see if there was any prospect of improvement. We work on the basis that stall fees should be no more than 10% of the value of sales at a market. At $55 per stall, Churchill Island was not viable for most of the year. Extra markets held over the holiday period at Christmas and throughout January helped to make up the shortfall in the past. But with the change in management this year, the summer markets have not attracted customers in the numbers required – because the lack of promotion meant that few people knew that the extra markets were being held.With egg production running at a lay rate of over 90%, we need consistent sales and at a $55 stall fee, supplying shops and restaurants together with farm gate sales is a more viable proposition than attending markets.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Global Food Forum and food security We are all a part of the environment not apart from it

In Australia, free range egg production has been hijacked by big business. In its real form it is a boutique system catering for a niche market, But industrial-scale producers convinced politicians to allow high density production systems to be classified as free range. Ever more intensive agriculture seems to be the mantra for global food production. But the threat to food security increases in direct proportion to the scale of the production system. For example, outbreaks of avian influenza involving intensive poultry farms has caused serious egg supply problems in various parts of the world. A Global Food Forum is being held at Crown Casino in Melboune on March 28 and food security should be high on the agenda. Freeranger eggs believes that food security is better achieved by encouraging networks of small-scale, sustainable farming enterprises rather than large industrial projects with negative environmental impacts. Every village or township around the world could be supplied by its own egg farm as well as suitable crop production. There is a huge untapped demand from consumers for eggs To help meet this shortage, crowd funding is being sought by Freeranger Eggs  to develop webinars, providing practical advice to help people establish free range farms which meet consumer expectations, without having to travel for hours to a farm workshop The webinars, together with our eBook will provide all the tools needed to set up a successful free range egg business.  gofundme.com/2tar52c

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A busy month selling eggs

We are now at our busiest time of the year, with holidaymakers descending on Phillip Island, one of Australia's premier holiday destinations. It means that all the shops and restaurants which we supply with eggs need more. And our regular farmers market at Churchill Island (just off Phillip Island) is now held every week until the end of January.
At this time of year its always hard balancing production and sales. The hens don't lay more eggs just because it's holiday time. We always try to meet demand by running an extra flock of Isa Browns at this time of year.It increases the workload but as long as markets hold up, there is a good result.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

South Korean export opportunites for egg farms

Two South Korean trading groups are seeking regular supplies of eggs from Australia They would like regular shipments of containers filled with 50 – 60 gram eggs, food businesses throughout Korea are suffering a critical egg shortage crisis after 24 million egg-laying hens were killed because of avian influenza. It was the biggest culling since Korea's first avian influenza outbreak in 2014. Get in touch with us if you are able to supply and want to get into exporting.