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

How Australia survived its second-hottest summer without load-shedding blackouts

18:52 EST

Australia's electricity grid survived the second-hottest summer on record without load-shedding blackouts, despite the closure of a major coal-fired power station in Victoria, according to two reports released on Wednesday by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

Rain deficit worsening in western NSW

16:08 EST

NSW, like most of Australia, has been stuck in a stagnant weather pattern for the last week, with a high pressure system to the south of the country blocking cold fronts from bringing any substantial rainfall.

Quiet weather coming to an end

12:24 EST

The stable weather pattern that has been gripping Australia through the middle of May will soon break down, making way for more active weather across southern states during the final week of autumn.