Travels trigger free-range idea

Travels trigger free-range idea


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GREEN PICK: Bill Hood and Colleen Malthouse with one of the chicken caravans which houses 450 laying hens. The caravans are moved every few days to give the chooks a green pick for their pastured, free range eggs.

GREEN PICK: Bill Hood and Colleen Malthouse with one of the chicken caravans which houses 450 laying hens. The caravans are moved every few days to give the chooks a green pick for their pastured, free range eggs.

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KEITH farmers Bill and Sally Hood have fond memories of their trip across Australia last year - and a 'cracking' good idea.

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KEITH farmers Bill and Sally Hood have many great memories of their trip across Australia last year, but they also came home with a cracking good idea.

During their year away, they found buying top-quality, tasty food - such as the beef and eggs produced on their property - was difficult.

The couple saw an opening for nutritious, sustainable food. And now the idea has become a reality with the establishment of only one of two farming businesses in SA producing pastured, free-range eggs.

This is complementing their business contract rearing dairy calves which they have done for more than a decade.

The aim of Hoods Earth Produce is to have some of the tastiest eggs and, importantly, the healthiest available from chooks raised free from confinement.

It is also a sustainable production system with the hens scratching the ground to aerate and fertilise it with their manure.

"The plants feed the animals and the animals feed the plants. It is a natural and sustainable cycle," Mrs Hood said.

Research has shown that pastured, free-range eggs have one third less cholesterol, one quarter less saturated fat, two thirds more Vitamin A, double the omega three fatty acids and three times more Vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene than chickens which do not have access to fresh, green pasture.

"Pastured eggs are the only ones with the omega-like the paleo days," Mrs Hood said.

In early April, 450 chooks arrived at their 800-hectare Hayfield property along with a mobile caravan from Port Macquarie, NSW.

In less than six months, this has grown to four caravans and about 1800 chooks. The venture is a team effort with the couple's daughter Bridget, and Colleen Malthouse, also a valuable part of the business.

The contented birds can be seen roaming the paddocks, pecking and scratching, giving themselves dust baths or lazing under the trees.

The Hoods are hoping the birds will also eat conical and white snails, which are a considerable pest.

* Full report in Stock Journal, October 16, 2014 issue.

The story Travels trigger free-range idea first appeared on Farm Online.

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