Fairfax Media Network

Weather News

Warm weather a challenge for free range egg farmers

Brett Worthington, Thursday January 30, 2014 - 11:44 EDT
ABC image
Free range chook from Woorlong Family Farms, in Merbein in north-west Victoria, escaping the Mallee's hot summer days. - ABC
ABC image
Elaine Hentschke from Woorlong Family Farms, in Merbein in north-west Victoria, sorting free range eggs. - ABC
ABC image
Free range eggs from Woorlong Family Farms, in Merbein in north-west Victoria. - ABC
ABC image
Free range eggs from Woorlong Family Farms, in Merbein in north-west Victoria, travelling along a conveyor belt ready for collection. - ABC

Keeping free range chooks alive is a huge concern for egg farmers as the temperature soars.

Unlike people, chooks can't sweat and can die very quickly from heat stress.

Elaine Hentschke, from Woorlong Family Farms in Merbein in north-west Victoria, says citrus trees are popular spots for the chooks to hide under on hot summer days.

"We've got to try and do what we can to keep the chooks cool," she says.

"There's fans, air conditioning and then we put sprinklers on the roof as well to keep that side of it cool.

"We have sprinklers in the block to just to keep pasture going (and) the paddock cool so (the chooks) can have a good scratch around."

Mrs Hentschke and her husband Robin took over Woorlong Family Farm last year and relocated the chooks to their property near Mildura.

Mr Hentschke has previously worked with caged eggs but says switching to free range was an easy decision.

"There seemed to be a demand for free range eggs," he says.

"A small business came on the market so we bought it and shifted it out to this property and because of the demand we've expanded and expanded and expanded.

"(Going into free range) is probably something I should have done when I (shifted) from South Australia."

Mr Hentschke has automated his property to allow fans to turn on when the temperature rises.

A conveyor belt also automatically turns on during peak egg laying periods to move eggs from nests to a collection area.

"After Robin's collected the eggs, we bring them in buckets, Robin puts them on the conveyor belt and that then (sorts the eggs) by weight... and I pack from there," Mrs Hentschke says.

"Some customers come here. I've got restaurants, I've got bakeries and I also do farmers markets just to get rid of any excess eggs."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
National Nine News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

NT weather: Crocs, floods, and food drops as Top End residents brace for more heavy rainfall

17:37 EDT

The Katherine River is set to flood as an active monsoon trough causes heavy rains and squally showers across the Northern Territory, registering the wettest day in five years.

Darwin deluge as monsoon returns

16:02 EDT

The monsoon trough has redeveloped over northern Australia this week, bringing Darwin its heaviest rain five years.

NSW heatwave: Records tumble in Moree, while Sydney set to swelter with top of 40C

14:06 EDT

As the mercury soars in Sydney today, spare a thought for the people of Moree in northern New South Wales, who are in the midst of a record-breaking heatwave.