Thursday, January 08, 2015

Poultry health and food safety need careful management

Issues surrounding food safety on egg farms are often ignored. It seems that the only time there is any focus is after an outbreak of disease or food poisoning traced back to eggs.

There are clearly many factors involved in maintaining poultry health and producing great, clean food. Cleanliness is a great starting point – clean sheds, clean nest boxes, wholesome feed and and clean water. Adequate cleaning procedures are vital as is controlling dust, vermin and ensuring good ventilation in sheds. Stocking densities are a substantial issue as each hen produces about half a cubic metre of manure a year, faecal contamination is likely to be a major salmonella risk factor in high density sheds. Do the maths, if you have 6000 hens in a shed, that's 1500 cubic metres of manure in the shed each year assuming the hens are only in the shed for 12 hours a day. The build up of manure provides a top host site for all sorts of nasties which can affect the health of hens and cause gastro problems with contaminated eggs. With 1000 hens per shed, that's still 250 cubic metres of manure a year. That's one of the many reasons we run flock sizes of 200 -300. Poultry health and egg are under greater threat as flock numbers rise. Large flock sizes and significant numbers of laying hens in sheds, often means that there is likely to be a high level of floor eggs - which increases the probability of contamination. That appears to have been the cause of the most recent salmonella event in Victoria.
But it's not just the threat of salmonella contamination – the only outbreaks of avian influenza in Australia have been on intensive poultry facilities.
The establishment of intensive production systems masquerading as 'free range' presents a great risk factor for the industry. Flock size and shed densities are vital issues.

Here's some detailed info:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Legislation for egg stamping and food safety issues are a washout

The new regulations for egg farmers look like they are a dismal failure as they were intended to help protect consumers and provide traceability of all eggs back to the farm on which they were produced. The industry broadly supported the proposal drawn by by FSANZ (Food Safety Australia and New Zealand, but the legislation was writen separately in each state. Here in Victoria, some people who sell eggs have not bothered to register with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and they are not stamping the eggs they produce with a farm identification number. They claim there is a loophole in the regulations which came into effect in November. They say that as they have 50 chooks or less, they don't need to register and are not required to stamp their eggs or comply with food safety standards.
It's just another example of bureaucratic stupidity. In the interests of the health of the community and traceability, the new regulations should apply to everyone who sells eggs. They should either apply to all egg producers, or none of us. It is simply not fair on those in the industry who meet the costs of complying with regulations when some sellers at markets or retail stores are allowed to flout them. It's not a small thing. While individual backyarders might only sell 20 dozen or so each week,  Throughout Australia, at least 100,000 dozen eggs each year are produced in  backyard operations and sold to unsuspecting consumers at markets or retail outlets. These producers have no understanding of the need for temperature control or other food safety requirements. Often they use secondhand cartons and do not meet labelling standards.

Another issue with egg stamping is that the legislation does not ensure that eggs are stamped on-farm. The stamping can be carried on a grading floor - which means that almost any stamp can be put on the eggs if they are sent to a grading floor for packing. This make a mockery of traceability claims.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's beomming clearer that MH 370 was shot down by the US

After months of fruitless searching it is again emerging that in all probability, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 didn't just fall out of the sky - it was shot down by the US military. This puts Australia's Prime Minister in a difficult position.  Does Tony Abbott have the guts to threaten to 'shirt-front' Barack Obama? And will he demand that the US reimburses Australian taxpayers for the costs involved in the extensive sea search for MH370?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Myths about eggs

The widespread concern over the definition of 'free range' will be sorted out when the ACCC has taken a few more big egg producers to court for their deceptive practices, and State Ministers for Fair Trading have finally established a legal standard for what constitutes a free range egg.  Genuine producers in the industry have followed the Model Code which sets a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare and prohibits beak trimming as a matter of course. Hopefully it will all be done and dusted by April.  Even when a definition is finally agreed the crooks will still try to find ways around the regulations.
But there are other issues too. There are so many myths around eggs some of which we have dealt with on a new page on our website:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chinese egg exports to Australia?

China is the world’s largest grower of egg laying hens and has been the largest producer of eggs for the last 28 years.

It has a massive volume of egg exports – around 260 million a year value at around $15 million. Many of those eggs go to the United States, but given the new trade deal signed between China and Australia, some of that volume could be heading here.

In an effort to stabilize egg prices by increasing liquidity and promote stable development in the egg industry, the China Securities Regulatory Commission endorsed the Dalian Commodity Exchange to initiate egg futures trading. The first egg futures traded in November 2013.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Farm gate sales

We are now offering eggs to customers at the farm gate. We have set up a large cool box just inside the front gate. So even though we have a biosecurity sign on the gate advising 'no unauthorised entry'. It's OK to enter just to buy eggs - as long as people don't proceed any further.
Farm gate sales are a growing part of our business
Demand has been increasing steadily with growing revelations from the ACCC about the  consumer deception organised by major egg businesses. As a result of their actions, consumers no longer trust labels and logos. Consumer interest is widespread in what is happening. Our Facebook 'likes' topped 1000 today  - largely driven by media reports of the industry scam.  Thank you Australian Egg Corporation Ltd. If you wish to like our facebook page, visit us at
Apart from gate sales, our eggs are available at Angel's Health Foods, Cowes, Corinella General Store and Farmers Markets at Churchill Island on the fourth Saturday every month and The Old Cheese Factory at Berwick on the second Saturday.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Using Hydrogen from water as a power source

Hydro Infra Technologies (HIT), a Swedish company based in Stockholm, has developed a patent pending approach for neutralizing carbon fuel emissions by generating a gas it c alls Hydro Nano Gas (HNG).

In spite of all the happening in the energy sector, global economies still depend on fossil fuels for transport , power generation etc. The cost of completely replacing fossil fuels with more sustainable options is a challenge even for the richest nations.

This in turn effects the climate change scenario which has been continuously increasing as more pollution and green house gases are created from burning fossil fuels on a daily basis.

This requires a, cost effective solution; and maybe HIT’s Hydro Nano Gas is an answer.

On the farm, we have been looking at running our delivery vehicle on water – but without success.

Water contains 2 basic elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen. These elements can be split, divided and utilized. Splitting water (H2O) is a known science. But the energy costs of splitting outweigh the energy created from hydrogen when the Hydrogen is split from the water molecule.

HIT says it has found a way to split water in an energy efficient manner to extract a high yield of Hydrogen at a low cost.

The process of creating HNG involves pulsing a range of low energy frequencies into water. The pulsing treatment effectively manipulates the molecules to line up for the splitting process. The result is HNG.

The gas displays some different properties from normal hydrogen. For instance: HNG seems to neutralizes carbon fuel pollution emissions; HNG can be pressurized up to 2 bars; HNG combusts at a rate of 9000 meters per second while normal Hydrogen combusts at a rate 600 meters per second; oxygen values actually increase when HNG is inserted into a diesel flame; and finally, HNG acts like a vortex on fossil fuel emissions causing the flame to be pulled into the centre thus concentrating the heat and combustion properties.

Injecting HNG into a combustion chamber produces several effects that increase the burn efficiency of the fuels. HNG gasification effectively burns unburned residue and completes the burn process quicker. This could have long term benefits with the on going economic-climate change debate.