Sustainable chicken farming – Our Free range egg story

Close up of chicken

We want healthy chickens & sustainable farming

We’ve been following the free range egg story in the news over the last week or so. It’s a doozy, but not all that complicated. Also sit for a bit and listen to this ABC report.

When egg sellers in New South Wales can claim 20,000 chickens per hectare is ‘free range’, then free range becomes a questionable term.

CHOICE has lodged a super-complaint with the Department of Fair Trading on free-range egg claims in New South Wales, asking for an investigation to see whether consumers are being misled.

Ten thousand hens a hectare is the basis for Coles Homebrand Free Range category.  Woolworths is looking to phase out caged eggs by 2018 but more to the point, will they simply work under the regulations developed? That is, allowing an unreasonable number of chickens per hectare. Others also it seems http://www.choice.com.au/shonkyaward/shonky-award-ecoeggs.aspx

Most of us want the assurance that our eggs come from cruelty free producers who operate in a sustainable manner.

Our free range eggs come from Dora Creek, a hamlet on the shores of Lake Macquarie,

Dora Creek Chickens

Dora Creek Chickens

just north of Morisset. Dora Creek is home to 500 people and a few thousand free range chooks who lay fresh, chemical-free, antibiotic-free eggs for the Fresh Start brand.

Roaming in a predator-free environment is good for a stress-free life. Chickens do better when they can grub, adding worms and vegetation to their diet.

Their eggs are better too. At Dora Creek there are no more than 1500 chickens a hectare. This is sustainable chicken farming.

They have green pastures: they’re lush – and an excellent place to relax.  As Anton refers to it: a Chook Med holiday park for free ranging chickens.

 CHOOK  MED

Chook Med

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Inquiry into Water Waste Management NSW

You may have read in today€™s news about an Inquiry into the Management of Domestic Wastewater. The guidelines were made 15 years ago and this inquiry is to look at the updates required and what legislation is required to get the job done more efficiently.

The inquiry was propelled into action by the devastation of the Oyster farms in NSW and Qld from the QX disease a few years ago. This inquiry is about sewage and waste management. It is looking at the appropriate training and licensing of plumbers, engineering and planning firms, design and certification of sub-surface drip irrigation and inspections of existing on-site sewage management systems.

See NSW Parliamentary Media release first

Definition: Market Garden  – Small growers who are selling at Farmer€™s Markets, roadside, tail-gate marketing (back of a truck), farm stands and pick-your-own.

“You are finding in a lot of market gardens … best practice isn’t being used [but] it certainly is not the majority,” said Camden Liberal Party Parliament member Chris Patterson, who acted as the chairman of the inquiry.

You may read the Final report  and PDF of this report.

The media took the findings of this Inquiry and focussed on Market Gardeners using wastage water on their crops.  The ABC report.

The issue discussed in the ABC report referred to €˜some€™ Market Gardeners using wastewater to water their crops. We do not get supply from Market Gardeners as we do not know how they are maintaining their crops. Market gardeners are usually taking their produce to Farmer€™s Markets and Market Days.

The Market Gardeners are too small to bring their produce to the Flemington Markets  and they produce a limited capacity. Far too small for the needs of Harvest Hub members.

The majority of the Harvest Hub growers, with whom we have a close relationship, are in the upper Nepean/Hawkesbury area in the north-west (Freeman’s Reach, Richmond, Windsor) and they get their water directly from the Hawkesbury River supply.

They are not €˜Market gardeners€™ and have substantial growing areas so that they are able to supply the quantities we require.

Note please that there is reference in the Inquiry about Oyster Farming QX disease which is a parasite in NSW and QLD in the Estuaries (lower areas of the river system), not a virus or bacteria, which instigated this Inquiry. There is no known reason for the disease but it can be seasonal and in rainy periods the run-off in the estuaries. So general water quality is what the Inquiry is looking at and how to update the rules, regulations and training for professions associated with water quality projects. Our Hubs in Brooklyn will affirm the devastation to the Oyster industry due to high water pollution in past years through no fault of their own we might add.

 

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