Home' Smart Farmer : April 2012 Contents ence
40,000 birds/ha and yet claim to be
free range,"Mr Fryar said.
Newly-hatched chickens remain
in sheds until they are eight weeks
old. They are vaccinated at four and
eight weeks and then moved into
outdoor mobile sheds where they
learn to range. The cost for buying
day-old vaccinated chicks is about
$3.20, including industry levies of
35 cents per bird.
They begin laying at about 20-21
weeks of age and continue for the next
13-14 months. Then the old hens are
culled and the sheds are brought in for
extensive cleaning, to ensure there is
no build-up of bacteria.
"We have also divided the pad-
docks by planting rows of trees so
that the birds have plenty of shade,
and we move the sheds every three
months, depending on the time of
year," Mr Fryar said. "We never lock
the birds in at night, they are free to
come and go as they please."
The Fryars still handle all aspects
of the business themselves: building
new infrastructure, growing grain on
farm for the poultry, breeding hens
and grading, cleaning and sorting
eggs, contacting clients each week
and arranging supply and distribu-
tion, marketing and also managing
their workforce, which has now
increased to 18 employees.
As the company continues to
grow, the Fryars are confident that it
will remain in good hands, with
both of their sons -- Thomas and
Jason -- keen to carry on the family
By LIZ COTTON
USTAINABLE practices and an
ongoing commitment to ethical
production principles have
underpinned the success story of
free range egg producers Tom and
Fiona Fryar, of Kangaroo Island Free
The Fryars' poultry farm today
covers 1600 hectares near
Kingscote, after the couple started
out small 20 years ago with a view to
turning their enterprise into a full-
time, large-scale, free-range opera-
"I was originally a shearer and
Fiona was a rouseabout in the
sheds," Mr Fryar said.
"We had a 40ha farm at Cygnet
River and wanted to find a farming
venture that we could develop and
that would turn a profit.
"We had a number of ideas, but
after some thought we settled on
eggs because Fiona's mother had
chooks and we could learn a bit
from her experiences."
Developing the business
extensively with other operators the
Fryars invested in 400 Highline
Brown hens and monitored their
costs, produce and inputs, but in
order to achieve the profits needed
to survive and achieve economies of
scale, they increased the stock to
3000 hens in four years.
"The problem then became find-
ing enough time for the growing
business, as we had young children
and both of us still worked full-time
off-farm,"Mr Fryar said.
They decided to employ a worker
to help with the farm duties, and in
just seven years, Kangaroo Island
Free Range Eggs expanded to
12,000 hens and doubled the farm
size with the purchase of the 40ha
property next door.
"Originally we thought 12,000
birds would be enough, but the mar-
kets kept coming in and we had to
keep up with the growing demand,
so we decided to make the business
a full-time job," Mr Fryar said.
their growing flock
o build up the farm
e, which includes 50
s which are able to
ghout the pastures,
se eye on the stock
a guard dogs, living
on the farm.
watch over and pro-
tect the hens from predators such as
eagles and feral cats, and with no
foxes on Kangaroo Island, the hens
are free to roam at all times, so we
can guarantee our eggs to be 'true'
free range," Mr Fryar said.
The Fryars have been able to
reduce their costs in a number of
ways including installing solar pan-
els to run the lighting.
They have also invested in a Big
Dutchman computerised manage-
ment system, which controls the
temperature and humidity inside the
chicken-rearing shed. Despite the
various efficiencies they have imple-
mented on-farm, their annual freight
bill is $240,000 -- thanks to the
stretch of water 20 kilometres wide
between KI and the mainland.
The 50,000 hens on the farm pro-
duce about 12,000 dozen eggs a
week, or roughly 676,000 dozen
eggs a year, and supply more than
100 outlets across Kangaroo Island,
Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
"We are also talking with
importers in Dubai and China about
exporting our eggs, which will see
us enter a new phase of expansion in
the near future," Mr Fryar said.
Earning their spot in the market
has not come easily for the Fryars,
with increased competition from
large-scale operators also purporting
to be 'free range', however, by plac-
ing quality and taste at the forefront
of their business, and keeping costs
down by handling almost every
stage of the operation themselves,
the rewards have come in fast.
Kangaroo Island Free Range Eggs
is well-known for its strict adher-
Mobile sheds used over property
Bird hygiene, welfare top priority
Markets expanding to include
Fryars see profits
come home to roost
The Kangaroo Island Free Range Eggs
brand has come a long way.
Tom and Fiona Fryar with their sons Tom and
Jason at their family farm near Kingscote.
Highline Brown hens prove rewarding
Maremma dogs watch over and
protect the hens from predators
such as eagles and cats.
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