Pampered hens free to range
By SHAN GOODWIN
THERE'D be a fair few blokes who would like to tap into Brian Deacon's secret.
The Nashua farmer is famous for keeping his 'girls' ? all 300 of them ? content. The trick, he says, is to let them roam free.
Mr Deacon and his wife, Anne, are part of a fastgrowing industry on the Northern Rivers ? free-range egg farming.
Demand for eggs which are produced by poultry not caged has skyrocketed to the point that people are happy to pay three-and-a-half times more than the price of conventional eggs. Free-range eggs in some stores are now selling for around $7.
Manager of Fundamentals in Byron Bay, Bernadette Downs, said it was not just that people wanted to feed their bodies better, they also had a desire to look after the wider world.
Mr Deacon's farm produces 20 dozen free-range eggs a day and he has no trouble selling them. He has a stall at the Byron Bay and Bangalow markets, takes orders and supplies local shops. Besides his 300 chooks, he has 80 ducks, 20 geese and 100 guinea fowl.
"It started as a few chooks to give us eggs and got out of hand," he said.
"People love free-range eggs. They have lovely orange yolks and a richer flavour.
"The freer the chook, the better the egg. They produce good eggs because they're happy. They wander around all day and head back into the barn at night.
"I mix their grub up a bit to give them just what they like. The Jack Russells keep Mr Fox away."
And as for eggs and cholesterol, Mr Deacon says he happily eats two good eggs a day.