MEDIA RELEASE 2 NOVEMBER 2013
Growth in ‘pastured egg farming’ as industrialised free-range called into question
The number of small-scale, family-run pastured egg farms is increasing across the country amid
speculation that consumers are being duped and ripped off by industrial, intensive ‘free-range’
Speaking at the Farming Small Areas Expo at the Hawkesbury Showground on 2nd
Daniel OBrien from Chicken Caravan said interest in pastured egg farming had never been stronger,
from both farming families and those looking to buy more ethical eggs.
Mr OBrien launched his Chicken Caravans, which make pastured egg farming easy, at the Farming
Small Areas Expo two years ago and already more than 10,000 hens around Australia call them home.
“Even before Choice lodged their super-complaint with NSW Fair Trading last month, we’ve been
seeing a backlash against misleading free-range labelling. The standards are scrambled across the
country and the codes are not enforced,” Mr OBrien said.
“Some producers have up to 20,000 hens per hectare – that’s bad news for the birds which aren’t
really free to roam at all. Imagine 18 chickens scratching around in your average sized bedroom.
“Pastured egg farming families aren’t big business and generally stock between 500 and 1500 birds
per hectare. Many have moveable sheds so they can move the hens to fresh grass every few days.
“They may have between a few dozen and a few hundred chickens producing eggs for local farmers
markets, green grocers, butchers, cafes and restaurants, and even farm gate stalls.”
The pasture farming method allows small flocks of hens to graze and interact naturally in open
paddocks, with birds regularly moved to fresh, clean and fertile pasture. The birds are able to seek
shelter from the elements, lay their eggs in comfortable nesting boxes and roost at night in moveable
coops like those manufactured by Chicken Caravan.
Daniel OBrien said pastured egg farming is less intensive on the environment and natural resources as
there is no need for electricity, heating and cooling, or flushing out industrial sized sheds.
“It has the added benefits of lower food miles, sustainable farming practices and supporting local
economies and communities. Pastured farming can be sustained for generations and offers greater
security of our food supply,” Mr OBrien said.
“The growth in this type of farming is also being driven by second generation farmers looking for
sustainable ways, both financially and environmentally, to stay on the land.”
With the NSW Fair Trading report due back by the end of the year, Mr OBrien urged consumers to
make a more informed choice next time they buy free-range eggs.