Despite the free range Model Code capping stocking density at 1 500 hens per hectare, some farms cram in more than 20 000. And some eggs come from flocks of up to 120 000! Is it any wonder when over half of the free range eggs sold in Australia come from only three producers? They’re Novo, Pace Farm and Manning Valley and are responsible for most of the brands that you see in major supermarkets.
Coles and Woolworths even set their own free range standards, with a stocking density of 10 000 hens per hectare. That’s nearly seven times the Model Code limit. And large producers that have both caged and ‘free range’ chickens, tend to believe the free range system is flawed.
With more people willing to pay for the extra cost of free range eggs, all these players can see is ka-ching!
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If you’re unsure if your eggs are free range or not, look for organic or animal welfare certification.
Alternatively, look out for pastured eggs; if you have a concern, simply ask the farmer! These hens are raised all or most of their lives on pasture and are moved every few days to enrich the soil; they’re free to dust bathe, scratch and forage, eating worms and grubs.
Their quality diet means rich and creamy eggs for us. Buying direct, the eggs will be fresh, with round yolks, holding firm when poaching.
Look for these brands at farmers’ markets and local independent stores near you. Taste the difference and tell your friends!
Support local farmers and eat delicious fresh food to boot; check our other directories: milk, eggs, pork, fruit and vegetables, garlic, turkeys and chickens.
Contribute: Do you know a farm that should be here? Email info AT flavourcrusader DOT com for inclusion. Learn more about the directories.
12 Good Eggs, Barham
Glen and Mardie Gray’s girls roam the paddock enjoying country air, Barham sunshine and shady Red Gums. They sleep and lay in caravans, which are shifted twice weekly, protected by electric netting and Maremma dogs.
Berrima Ridge, Berrima
Anne and Warren Stuckey move their chickens regularly over 50 acres of pasture and olive grove. From dawn to dusk, every day is a new adventure for the hens, especially seeking out any forbidden areas. They sleep in mobile hen houses, protected by a Maremma dog.
Brigadoon Harvest, Tooraweenah
John and Estelle Joseph’s chickens scratch in the mulch piles, mow the green grass shoots and take luxurious dust baths. The chickens live in a mobile house that is moved every few days. They keep things simple and natural; lots of sunshine, wholefoods, grass and bugs.
Buena Vista Farm, Gerringong
On a picturesque property, Fiona and Adam Walmsley have almost 400 laying hens, mostly housed in two mobile chicken caravans. The chickens enjoy big fresh paddocks of grass, moved every few days to a fresh spot.
Calvin’s Eggs, Gerrigong
12-year-old Calvin runs a flock of hens including Rhode Island Reds, Pekin Bantams and Silkies. They’re fed scraps, vegetables and high-protein crumble. Protected by Maremmas, they have day access to fully grassed pasture and sleep in the henhouse at night.
Carbeen Pastured Produce, Manildra
Based on holistic farming principles, Rodger and Katherine’s hens are housed in trailers; the chickens are moved daily, following in rotation behind their cattle and sheep. They’re fed grain to complement their grass and bug diet.
Clarendon Farm, Pitt Town
Ian Littleton’s hens follow the natural rhythms of a wild hen’s year. They’re free from artificial light so there are fewer eggs during autumn and winter. Hens past their laying prime reside in retirement paddocks. An electric fence and Maremmas protect them from predators.
Cornucopia Biodynamic Farm, Paterson River
Kerry Marshall lets her chickens roam freely throughout the day with nightly sheltering in their mobile homes. Every few days the homes are pulled to fresh pasture for a fresh supply of fresh green pick; supplementary feed is certified organic grain.
Egganic, Mangrove Mountain
The Steel family’s chickens roam chemical-free paddocks, kept safe from predators by electric fencing and Maremma dogs. They lay and roost in a mobile shed and eat fresh green feed and certified organic mash. Tip from @UrbanGreenSpace
Farmer Browns Pastured Eggs, Dunedoo
The Fergusson family’s pastured hens live unrestricted in an 85-hectare paddock adjoining a large area of protected woodland. The hens lay their eggs in mobile sheds by day and perch comfortably at night. Maremma dogs provide protection.
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Free as a Bird, Tooradin
Graeme and Anne Barwise have approximately 600 birds housed in three mobile sheds on their farm. During daylight hours the birds have full access to lush, green pastures; they can dust bathe and are free to graze naturally. They’re fed chemical-free grains.
Grandma’s Eggs, Gunning
Stephen Clancy, wife Maureen, son and daughter-in-law are the team behind Grandma’s Eggs. Their chickens are free to roam outside 24 hours a day with portable housing, protected by two Maremma dogs.
Grassy’s Grass Fed, Yass
The McGrath family operates Grassy’s Grass Fed, but the most important members of staff are the three Maremma dogs who allow the hens to roam free when they wish. Housed in mobile trailers and moved onto fresh pasture regularly, the chickens improve the soil and produce quality eggs.
Gunning Bum Nuts, Gunning
Craig and Theresa Robinson rotates the chickens through their chemical-free paddocks; the chickens have access to pasture all day, every day and are rotated through chemical-free paddocks. They also have access to fresh rainwater in enclosed tanks. Maremma dogs protect the chickens from predators.
Hayters Hill, Byron Bay
Brothers Hugh and David Trevor-Jones are fourth generation farmers with a 120-hectare mixed farm just five minutes from Byron Bay. Their 2 000 chickens are systematically rotated on pasture with plenty of room to move.
Holbrook Paddock Eggs, Holbrook
Sam and Prue Pincott’s 2 600 hens roost and lay in portable sheds which are moved onto fresh pasture twice weekly; they’re free to roam the paddock with access to fresh grass, bugs and grubs. Two Maremma dogs protect them from predators, as they’re never locked up.
Inverloch Free Range, Inverloch
The hens are free to range around in fresh pasture, scratching for worms. The mobile sheds provide a safe, warm and dry place out of the elements for the hens to lay their eggs and roost at night. They are protected 24 hours a day by Maremma dogs.
Long Paddock Eggs, Bungendore
Chickens here are free to range with plenty of fresh grass, shade, leaf litter to scratch in, dust baths and safe shelter. Valia, Amanda, Eileen and Jenny move the mobile sheds weekly. Maremma dogs and portable electric fencing provide protection.
Mayfield Farm, Dorrigo Plateau
Ian and Sandra’s flock of Plymouth Rock chickens are free to dust bath, scratch and hunt for grubs and bugs. Supplementary feed is corn, wheat and sunflower seeds with access to shell grit, Calgrit and seaweed meal throughout the day.
Melsted Park, Black Mountain
The laying hens are free ranging with electric netting, guarded by Leo the Maremma. As they forage, they reduce weeds and parasites, spread manure, and help to break the tick cycle. The mobile shelter is moved regularly to ensure the manure does not ‘burn’ the pasture.
Near River Produce, Hollisdale
Therese and Andre Hearne’s flock of Australorps spend their days ranging around the market garden paddock, foraging on the bugs, grubs and grasses, along with an organic grain-based feed in their run.
New England Pastured Eggs, Kentucky
Arron and Kirsty O’Connell’s hens are free to roam and forage on open pasture. They are housed in movable sheds and rotated onto fresh pasture every few days.
Oaks Organics, The Oaks
Peter and Julie Clinch supply open-range organic eggs from their farm located approximately 70km from Sydney. They are fed supplementary soy-free certified organic ration.
Old Mill Road BioFarm, Moruya
Chickens clean out crops, eats bugs, fertilise the ground and provide eggs for the market. An electrified mesh contains them so Fraser Bayley and Kirsti Wilkinson can give their chickens fresh ground regularly, essential for their wellbeing.
The Cripps Clark family rear 5 000-6 000 laying hens, housed in movable shelter with access to green peck, supplemented by certified organic vegetarian grains. They are protected from predators by shady trees, bird netting, electric fencing and Maremma dogs.
Oxhill Organic, Wauchope
The Eggert family’s certified organic farm has 2 000 laying hens that are moved every two days to fresh pasture. The hens are fed a fresh porridge mix; the grains are cracked and mixed with organic milk from the on-farm dairy.
These are open range chickens as they’re not contained by fences or ever locked up. They follow a herd of beef cattle in a planned rotational grazing regime, protected by Maremma dogs. A commercially produced layer ration supplements their feed. Tip from Carolyn.
The Perthville Pantry, Perthville
Hannah and Cameron Plummer supply genuine pasture raised eggs direct to customers within 100 miles of Bathurst. They farm holistically, regenerating their land in the process; the hens scratch through where the pigs have been, sanitising and fertilising the paddocks as they go.
Possum Creek, Bangalow
Permaculture, Holistic Management and Polyface farming practices produce a food system that works with nature. Andrew Cameron’s 150 hens forage on pasture, pecking at bugs and insects, and dust bathe; they roost in their caravan that is regularly moved.
Rock Chic Eggs, Richmond
The Murphy family hens run wild in large paddocks, eating grass and bugs, scratching and rolling in dirt, running, jumping, stretching and flying. The eggs are laid to order avoiding unnecessary waste or use of the soil and grazing areas.
Smith’s Free Range Eggs, Temora
Helen and Dennis Smith’s 2 500 hens have sheds with laying boxes, perches, feed and water. They are collected weighted, packed, marketed and distributed by the Smiths. Tip from @bizzylizzycooks
Symphony Farm, Tilba
Mandy and Graham Thompson and their four boys produce certified organic pastured eggs. Their hens follow their herd of cattle, scratching up manure, sanitizing the paddocks, eating bugs, grass and natural herbs. In these natural systems the animals enhances the health of the environment.
Wybalena Farm, Canowindra
Natalie Mihalic’s hens are moved onto fresh pasture daily; they free range from a mobile shelter where they lay and sleep. They forage for plants, seeds, bugs, insects, with supplementary feed of lucerne hay, grains and milk.
Working with Nature, Guyra
Derek and Fiona Smith’s hens enjoy 5-8 hectares of pastured paddocks at a time. They forage on green grass, herbs, fresh shoots and insects. The sheds are moved around daily following the cattle. Maremma dogs protect them from predators.
400 acres, Lietchville
Elliot Fehring’s movable hen house closely travels the wake of a grazing dairy herd. The chickens feast on grubs, scratching the soil and spread their manure on the pasture, enriching the soil as they go. Two Maremma pups guard the feathery procession from marauding foxes day and night.
Al Yanna, St Arnaud
Catriona and Robert Thoolen teach their layers to scratch, dust bathe, hunt for bugs and sunbake. Many are “rescues”, hens bought from the large commercial growers. They now head up to 500 metres away from their mobile shed, under the watchful eyes of Bella and Peter, their Maremma guard dogs.
Berrkers Free Range Egg, Goon Nure
The hens are free to roam pasture, with access to small huts; these are towed around the farm for fresh pasture.
Bonnie View Farm, Warragul
Chris and Michelle Winterton are the custodians of 57 acres of beautiful undulating country in Bona-Vista, West Gippsland. Their trailers are moved around the paddock to spread manure and provide fresh areas for the hens to graze, supporting organic farming.
Daylesford Organics, Daylesford
Brendon and Kate believe that producing food comes with a great deal of responsibility to the consumer, to the environment and to future generations. 200 hens live in mobile sheds, moved regularly and guarded from predators by Maremma dogs.
Eat Local Eat Wild, Bonnie Doon
Carolyn and Erik Suggate produce chemical-free pastured eggs.
Elderslie Organics, Ellinbank
The Wallace family reside on a 120ha farm producing organic eggs and milk. The hens lay eggs in old caravans parked around the dairy paddock. Maremma dogs guard the hens and travel everywhere with their allocated vans of hens. No artificial chemicals and fertilisers are used.
Family Homestead Genuine Free Range Eggs, Myrniong Hills
The Luketic family hens are free to run around outside in the paddock with Maremma dogs for protection; they’re never locked up, not even at night. They’re housed in mobile sheds that are moved on a rotational basis for fresh pasture.
Forge Creek Free Range, Forge Creek
The small, family-run farm produces eggs from pasture fed, free range chickens. The hens are housed in mobile sheds, and are free to fossick and roam happily during the day, guarded by portable fencing and alpacas.
Free Range King Valley Eggs, Moyhu.
Neil and Amanda Beach’s hens forage freely, feeding on insects, native grasses, soft leaves and seeds, with supplementary premium feed. Their mobile sheds are rotated to allow their pasture—free from chemicals, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers—to rejuvenate.
Freeranger Egg Farm, Grantville
Phil Westwood’s farm is home to 1 200 hens. They run in flocks of 200 – 300 in separate paddocks; each flock has a mobile roosting shed with laying boxes and is protected by a Maremma dog. The chickens eat a mash of natural grains, with no meat meal nor colouring additives.
Gippsland Free Range Eggs, Glengarry West
The hens are free to roam with Maremma dogs to keep them safe from foxes and wedge tail eagles. Their supplementary diet consists of natural grains and seeds.
Girrahween Farms, Mirboo North
Robyn and Robert Mooren run their hens in flocks of 300 with mobile sheds, protected by Maremma dogs. The sheds are moved every 2-3 days, rotating on the chemical-free paddocks. They eat mixed grain, pasture and all the bugs they can find.
Glorious Googies, Korumburra
Emma Brown’s girls feast all day long on fresh green grass supplemented by specially selected grains with no artificial colours, additives, chemicals or animal proteins. They are free to run, flap, squawk, sit, play or dust bathe and do what chickens do best.
Gypsy Chicks, Strzelecki
Once the cattle have grazed the paddock at Amber Valley Farm, Chris moves the chickens in. The girls scratch through the earth, looking for bugs. They are protected from predators by electric netting and alpacas.
Hand to Ground, Baynton
Alex and Emily Sims welcomed their first flock of egg-laying chickens; pastured eggs are coming soon.
Hens of Hallora, West Gippsland
Tania Murray runs 300 laying hens in a three-acre range area that is fully enclosed by an electrified fox-proof fence. The chickens spend the night roosting in a small shed to protect them from the elements. In the morning they’re free to come and go from the shed as they please.
Inverloch Free Range, Inverloch
The hens are free to range around green pasture in coastal South Gippsland. Feed is supplemented by grains containing no artificial yolk colouring, chemicals or animal proteins. Mobile sheds provide a safe place for hens to lay their eggs and roost at night. Maremma dogs protect the hens.
Josh’s Rainbow Eggs, Kerrie Valley
Josh moves the egg-mobile daily so the chickens are always on fresh pasture. They have a healthy diet that includes foraged seeds, bugs, worms and native grasses with supplementary grains. The eggs are harvested twice daily and delivered the same or next day.
Madelaine’s Eggs, Hollyburton Park
Madelaine Scott’s flock of 1 000 layers roam the orchard which provides them with fruit and protection from the elements, supplemented by Hollyburton organic layer feed. In return, the chickens keep the mold and bugs away.
Milawa Organic Pasture Eggs, Ovens Valley
Russell Mickle’s hens have shelters to protect from extreme temperature and predators. Their pasture diet is supplemented with a high protein vegetarian feed, free from meat and fishmeal. Tip from @essjayeff
The Old Farm Happy Valley, Flowerdale
Diego and Georgi Puyol’s pastured chickens are free to roam the beautiful and luscious surrounds of Happy Valley located just 95 kilometres north of Melbourne. They’re fed supplementary organic grain.
PlanetClaire Farm, Pomonal
Claire Dunkley of has a mix of chickens—Plymouth Rock, light Sussex, silver Sussex and speckled Sussex—that are free to forage on chemical-free pasture. Their egg mobile is moved every three days, protected from predators by an electric net and a Maremma dog.
Real Free Range Eggs, South Gippsland
Dan Green’s flocks are rotated to allow for natural regeneration of the soil. They have 24-hour access to pasture, food, fresh water and shelter. They can dust bathe as they desire, they’re not debeaked nor fed hormones or any artificial additives.
Taranaki Farm, Woodend
Ben Falloon and Nina Grundner have established an open Australian farm modeled on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm. Their chickens are pastured, with a regime of twice weekly egg mobile moves to keep up with the cattle.
Top Hundred Acres, Yan Yean
Kate and Judy Rothacker chickens are free to range the pasture with access to a movable caravan for shelter, water, roosting and nesting space. The soil is nourished by a permaculture system, with no artificial pesticides or fertilisers used.
Tom’s Paddock, Glenburn
Sally and Tom Abbotsmith Youl’s chickens have unlimited access to fresh green forage, with a diet of native grasses, clover, rye grass, grubs and bugs. They’re rotated twice weekly to fresh pasture, with an electric fence for protection.
Wild Hen Farm, Myrrhee
Diego and Georgi Puyol are new owners of Wild Hen Farm, using similar practices as founder, Cheryl Graham. The production system produces ethical eggs of the highest quality and flavour, enriched with a pasture diet. The hens are rotated around the paddocks; they lay and roost in their mobile caravan.
Willow Zen, Trafalgar
Kelvin and Sumi Slade’s hens enjoy fresh pasture every day and roam from mobile trailers. They eat grass while scratching for bugs and enjoy natural grain feed. Protected by Maremma dogs and alpacas, they are free to live, lay and roost as hens should.
Majura Valley Free Range, Majura
Nick Weber and Anne McGrath run 2 000 chickens to produce biodynamic eggs to local stores, restaurants and from the farm gate. The chicken sheds are moved to different parts of the paddock weekly; this means their soils are fertilised with nitrogen-rich manure.
Mulloon Creek Natural Farms, Bungendore
The hens forage on pasture grasses and legumes supplemented by mixed organic grains, and free fed on shell grit and a protein supplement. Their eggmobile is moved twice weekly, with each flock protected by two Maremma dogs. Tip from Carolyn.
Also look at NSW producers.
The chickens are housed in a mobile henhouse, and moved to fresh pasture every seven to ten days. They scratch in new soil, chasing fresh worms and bugs, and graze the seed and leaf on the new grass.
Freckle Farm, Eton
Deb McLucas and Rob Bauman rotate their cattle, pigs and chickens throughout their chemical–free pastures. The chickens love to scratch the soil while pecking, eating fresh grass and catching bugs. Fencing and a Maremma dog protect the chickens from predators.
Melsted Park, Black Mountain
Anna and Michael Henbury’s laying hens are free to range, protected with electric netting and Leo the Maremma. The herns forage reducing weeds and parasites, spread manure, and help to break the tick cycle. The mobile shelter is moved regularly to ensure the manure does not ‘burn’ the pasture.
Mungalli Creek Dairy, Millaa Millaa
Robert Watson has 4 000 cross-bred bond brown chickens. Their coops are built on skids so they can be moved around the farm, following the dairy cows, on to fresh pastures. Tip from PinkFarm
Rawganix Farm, Tansey
Cris and Lee-Anne Geri’s chickens are moved regularly to new pasture using movable pens. As they farm without chemicals and antibiotics, they deal with disease and injury by quarantining, using natural remedies and culling when necessary. Tip from @BTHOfarmgirl
Silver Dale Eggs, Calliope
Rob and Sandra Waterson’s chickens are free to roam all day; they’re never confined but have access to shelter, perches, grain and nests. Their mobile houses are regularly moved so they always have access to fresh grass. Tip from @rolley
Walker Farm Foods, Cambroon
Kacey and George are committed to creating high welfare local food using regenerative agriculture practices. Their nomadic pastured laying hens are housed in mobile shelters. Moved every second day to a fresh patch of grass, they enjoy fresh air, exercise, and sunshine.
Almond Grove, Murray Bridge
John Holland farms 2 500 Isa Brown chickens for eggs.
Green Eggs and Ham, Parawa
Katrina McCullough and Angus Williams run a small flock of hens in the Fleurieu Peninsula. They’re free to range wherever they please.
Gumview Free Range Eggs, Yorke Peninsula
The farm produces, packs and delivers all their eggs direct from the farm.
Hood’s Earth Produce, Keith
Bill and Sally Hood’s chickens are free to roam, peck and forage, protected by Maremma dogs. Their mobile caravans are moved daily to new pasture.
Kangaroo Island, Kingscote
Tom and Fiona Fryar run 50 000 hens, moved for fresh pasture in a mobile poultry shed. The hens peck and scratch at seeds, insects and grubs; their feed is supplemented by a mixture of grains produced on the farm. Maremma dogs protect them.
Katham Springs, Kingscote
Graham and Kathy Barrett have been producing Demeter certified eggs since 1999. Their chickens live in mobile sheds that are moved around small paddocks regularly; Maremma dogs guard them.
McGwerriton Organics, Adelaide Hills
The chickens are free to roam, stocked at 400 birds per hectare. Their sheds are regularly moved to ensure the healthiest and freshest conditions for both ground and chickens. No chemicals are used on the grounds at any time. They guarantee from hen to shelf within 24 hours. Tip from Lisa.
Burnside Organic Farm Biodynamic Eggs, Margaret River
The chickens are rotated through different areas on the farm, eating green pasture and certified biodynamic grain. The chickens are an integrated part of the farm, weeding and fertilizing the orchard, avocados and vineyard.
Cackleberries Eggs, Noggerup
Edward and Margaret Valentine’s hens have mobile homes for regular rotation. They sleep here overnight, with sunrise release. Biodynamic pastures, certified grains and grain by-product form their diet. Two Maremma dogs protect them from predators.
Charcol Springs, Manjimup
Charlie and Coleen Roberts’ hens sleep in their egg-mobile at night and are moved daily to fresh pasture. The hens follow the cows, cleaning up the cowpats, debugging and scratching to promote seed germination whilst fertilizing the ground and replenishing the soils.
Gimlet Grove Paddock Eggs, Jilakin Downs
Sara and Keith Wilson’s hens have plenty of space and ground to scratch around. They enjoy the sun, and feast on green waste from the farmers’ market. They lay and roost in a mobile shelter; llamas protect them from predators.
Laterite Ridge Free Range, York
Mat Longworth’s farm began as an olive grove; it now provides a range of organically grown food for the local community. The chickens run beneath olive trees, scratching for bugs and worms, with open-ended shelter for sun protection. Maremma dogs guard them.
Manavi Farm Eggs, Watheroo
Lindsay and Robyn Cousins are broadacre farmers producing wheat and sheep. Their chickens roam in a paddock and lay in a mobile house that is moved regularly to fresh pastures. A Maremma dog keeps them safe from predators.
Merri Bee Organic Farm, Nannup
Stewart Seesink, Bee Winfield and their son Lee have been developing a permaculture for 25 years on the banks of the Blackwood in Nannup.
Shipley’s Farm, Albany
Barb, Mike, Brenden and Tanya move the chickens daily behind the cattle in rotation. The chickens sleep at night in egg-mobiles; when they’re released during the day they delight in having open, fresh pasture and all the vigorous insect activity.
Mt Roland Free Range Eggs, Roland
The hens lay and sleep in a shelter, and are moved to new lush chemical-free pastures. Stock levels are kept to a minimum to ensure they have the best lifestyle possible. They welcome customers by appointment.
Contribute: Do you know a farm that should be here? Email info AT flavourcrusader DOT com for inclusion. Learn more about the directories.
ABC Rural: Kim Honan and Sarina Locke, Egg farms may be forced to make changes after court case, Sep 24, 2014
ABC Gippsland: Jenni Henderson, Free range on show for World Egg Day, October 5, 2013
Brisbane Times: Amy Remeikis, ‘Free range eggs’ definition scrambled, July 29, 2013
The Age: Melissa Fyfe and Royce Millar, Coles sets its own squeezier standard, March 4, 2013
ABC News: ACCC rejects free range definition, November 2, 2012
Weekly Times: Egg supplier fined over ‘free range’ claims, September 5, 2012
ABC News: Free range definition to rise, April 16, 2012
Lexicon of Sustainability: This is the Story of An Egg, November, 2011
ABC 7.30: Truth in labelling bill ruffles feathers, October 7, 2011
Weekly Times Now, Leslie White: Cracks in free-range egg debate, October 5, 2011
Weekly Times, Leslie White: Egg industry cracks, October 6, 2008
ABC Radio National: Produced by Helen Thomas: Free Range Fiddle, June 26, 2005
cc photo by Christy McDonald