Glenn and Sue’s Story
We dropped in and had a lovely chat and tour of Glenn and Sue’s free range egg farm in Launching Place. Glenn and Sue were so accommodating and made us feel very welcome.
Glenn and Sue originally ran a very successful sheet metal business for 15 years called Glenco Fabrication before they started up their free range egg farm. While they were running their business Sue developed an interest in sustainable agriculture and happened to find a local course running at Ecoss called a Diploma of Sustainable Agriculture. The course was ran over a 2 1/2 year period.
While Sue was in the middle of completing her Diploma she went on an excursion to a dairy farm and at the back of the dairy was a chicken farm. Sue really liked their set up and thought we could do that. So in 2014 The Little Yarra Free Rang Egg Farm was born.
When they set up the farm in 2014 they made a conscious decision to be a free range farm and not an organic farm. They love the concept of organic but there is a lot of compliance required to be classed as organic. The hens would have needed to be feed organic feed and in the quantity required would have had to be shipped from Queensland. They felt that would leave a bigger foot print on the earth, so they chose to be a free range egg farm on pasture as it was more sustainable and made more sense to them.
Free Range Farming
To be classed as a free range egg farm the government regulation states that you can have up to 10,000 hens per hectare and they need to have meaningful access to the range (dirt and grass). Where Little Yarra Free Range Egg Farm is different is they only have 180-300 hens per hectare and only 1800-2000 hens across the whole property. Their hens are free range on pasture which also exceeds the standard regulation set for free range farming. They have 5 vans scattered throughout the property for the hens to lay in and for shelter, food and protection. Glenn even made one of the vans from scratch.
The hens get to roam around and eat a natural diet. They get plenty of sunshine too. The advantages of free range egg farming on pasture is that the hens are healthier so they naturally produce eggs that taste better.
The breed of hens that they have on their farm are Isa Browns. They are very reliable layers and will lay up to 5 years. The hens are not forced to lay so the amount of eggs that they sell everyday varies. Spring is the peak period for egg production.
The hens are fed a grain mix which they source an hour away in Trafalgar, Victoria. The fed contains crushed wheat, soya bean meal, poultry grit, barley, maize, canola, lupins, lime and a variety of vitamins and minerals. The hens also eat grass, bugs and worms that they find while scratching around on the pasture.
Glenn and Sue are very proud of their farming methods which includes using no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. They also rotate their chickens regularly to allow the pasture to rest. Over the 15 years that they have owned the property they have planted more than 5000 new trees to provide shade for the hens and dogs and to also help with erosion. They try to replicate nature as much as they can on their farm.
Protecting the Hens
Five very special dogs protect their hens from foxes and stray dogs. They are a special breed called Maremmas. Maremmas are said to be live stock guarding dogs and will naturally protect any animal that they bond with. The dogs names are Brown Dog, Douglas, Sadie, Josie and Jessie. The dogs stay with the hens 24/7. They have also installed electric fences around the pasture to keep the hens safe.
Customers always comment to Glenn and Sue about how fresh and yummy their eggs are. They believe that they taste so good because of the sustainable farming methods that they employ and of course how happy their hens are. Glenn and Sue are open to feedback as they are always looking to improve their business and continue to provide the best free range eggs that they can.
Their beautiful farm is located at 150 Doon Rd, Launching Place, Victoria and are always open for you to buy fresh eggs. They also sell laying hens as well. Please bring cash or coins to pay. While you are there you are likely to see Glenn and Sue working on the farm, looking after all their hens, dogs, goats, pigs and cows.
It really is a lovely experience and you will see all the love and hard work that they have put into their free range egg farm.