With many farms having their own poultry for household consumption of eggs and meat, a WOF visit to a modern chicken enterprise was welcome. A chicken meat farm in the Strzelecki ranges was an eye opener for members.
Ilan & Paula Goldman and their two children purchased their property in late 2011 Mirboo North, moving from Melbourne 4½ years ago. They were keen to put into practice the methods of growing chickens developed by Joel Salatin in the USA. The approach is along more natural, organic lines, vastly different from the mass production methods of the big name chicken processors.
The genetics for the Goldman birds were also developed in the USA. Breeder farms supply fertile eggs to the hatchery. In the breeder farms the chickens are sectioned off into about a dozen hens to two roosters from which the eggs are gathered.
Subsequent day old chickens are purchased on a regular basis, from the hatchery located in Queensland, and flown to Tullamarine for Ilan to collect.
Once at Mirboo North the chickens are housed in a heat controlled brooders until they are about four weeks old. At this age they should be fully feathered and able to withstand the outdoors climate. The youngsters are then transferred to transportable shelters in the paddocks and moved daily to graze on grass. Electric fences and chicken netting are used to deter foxes.
The chickens are grown out on their balanced, high protein diet, plus pasture with its naturally available insects and minerals, for up to twelve weeks. The Goldmans mix and mill their own feed, thus ensuring it has no added chemicals. The predominantly wheat-based feed contains minerals, vitamins and meals (camelina, roasted soy bean, blood, fish, meat, bone and seaweed ). No antibiotics or pharmaceuticals are included.
When mature for processing, the chickens are transported, once again, for slaughter at a poultry abattoir in Albion, in Melbourne’s inner west, from where the freshly processed meat is collected the next day. The final product is sold at farmers markets in Coal Creek, Coburg and Warragul and to various speciality outlets (restaurants and butchers)
Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women. There is no need to be actively farming to participate. For more details contact secretary, Jean Irvine, ph. 0429488156, or go to our website at www.womenonfarms.org for the monthly program.
For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.