Free range egg production

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DaveJ
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Free range egg production

Post by DaveJ » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:19 pm

Getting increasingly interested in this. No, not half a dozen bantams and an Egglu in the garden. More 16K+ and a big shed.

Big investment (500K for the aforementioned 16k bird unit) but from what I've looked into so far the figures stack up and most importantly for me only requires a small chunk of the farm (20 ac) which can mostly still be grazed/harvested. There's also the small matter of a decent quantity of good quality fertiliser too.

Any opinions?

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RGSP
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Re: Free range egg production

Post by RGSP » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:08 pm

The general gossip in our part of the country is that the free range egg market is getting close to over-supplied, and I know some producers have had to off-load a proportion of their eggs onto the standard market.

In other words, make absolutely sure you can sell any organic eggs in the quantites and price that make sense, for as long as it takes to pay for most of your investment. Probably also check that if the worst comes to the worst, you don't go bankrupt if the organic customer(s) dry up and you have to sell them as standard eggs.

On the practical side, hens make an unholy mess of pasture on heavy soil, so I wouldn't consider it except on free draining soil. Oh yes, also check that there won't be any planning objections to an electrified perimeter fence as an anti-fox measure.

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McFarmer
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Re: Free range egg production

Post by McFarmer » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:26 pm

In order to qualify for "free range" status here all you need is a small door they can go out for a short time if they want. Most times they don't go out at all. The access to the door doesn't have to be around the clock, only for a short period of the day.

California leads the way in that type of thing. Free range also doesn't have to be organic. It can be called "natural" which means basically nothing.

And yes, as RGSP says, a committed market would be essential.
Measure twice, cut once, curse, repeat.

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RGSP
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Re: Free range egg production

Post by RGSP » Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:41 pm

Yes, I'm sorry, the people I know who "do" free range eggs are in fact organic as well, and the premiums are well worth while. Of course you don't have to be organic to be free range, but I suspect you DO need to be free range to be organic, don't you?

It's a different scale, but we supply several dozen eggs a week to friends and neighbours, and they don't care a damn about them being organic, but they DO care about them being out in a grass field (behind electric anti-fox netting).

DaveJ
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Re: Free range egg production

Post by DaveJ » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:06 pm

My thoughts were to give organic production a wide berth and stick to conventional Free Range. I was under the impression that - like beef and lamb - the premium was now so little and the feed costs so much higher it was not worth bothering with even before you got to the extra regs. Plus it would restrict what else I could do with the remainder of the area as I currently let the ground for grazing/mowing and there isn't a market for organic grass around here. Most of the people who tried organic sheep and cattle on a commercial scale in this area jacked it in a few years back.

I will admit the whole Organic concept is a pet hate of mine so I have perhaps listened to what I wanted to hear. :?

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Bloomers
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Re: Free range egg production

Post by Bloomers » Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:40 pm

I know its not what you are looking at Dave but there's a guy in the next village who has been into chickens for meat for a long time.He's on for Moy park and last year had a major re-furb with new sheds and a new system to run them.I used to keep some stuff down there so would often bump into him,he seems to be doing pretty well out of it so may be another option to consider.
Taxi Willy,he's a hero...

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