Consent for 300 laying hens and one rooster.
Poultry with aquaculture is documented as an environmental practice. The runoff from poultry manure, is absorbed in the pond’s mud and is not passed further into the waterway.
The food web that we grow for our koura, also offers insect life for our poultry. This offsets the cost of feed pallets ... is linked to the good reputation of our eggs, and mitigates the predating insect life on our koura, such as frog eggs. A polyculture.
We have twelve hen sheds varying surface area of 3 - 15 sq m. Each is secured against high winds and has lights operating on timers so that hens could then lay eggs on days with shorter daylight hours. One shed of 3 sq m has a adjacent enclosed run of 15 cu m for quail - and which would suit other aviary birds.
Rat-proof storage container for poultry and koura feed.
Selling hen, duck and quail eggs at the gate, farmers market, five local cafes/lodges and boutique outlet
Weekly egg delivery offered throughout the community to residents without transport.
We are the only egg farmer in the Kaikoura district that has had MPI compliance registration, which cafes/restaurants and hotels, are oblidged to buy from.
The small scale of our business means that we may not be able to meet a surge in demand. However we have not lost clients because of this. We take this as a compliment, and a probable link between our "true" free-ranging hens, and chefs identifying the quality of our eggs for recipes for mayonnaise.
Being fully stocked with laying hens requires some manual work. To assist us with this, plus with gardening, and to babysit the farm in low season, we have had a work-for-board arrangement, with woofers etc, who have been living on a caravan on site. Our location is a destination which also attracts backpackers.
We are growing mealworms, ie the high protein larvae of the darkling beetle. They reduce our feed costs and which will benefit both poultry and aquaculture. We farm these efficiently in optimum conditions in the heated, humid, and dark, koura hatchery. That is, for $30 of monthly heating costs, we can grow as many mealworms as we like. BTW the heated hatchery, also offers a warm night for juvenile poultry.
My personal opinion to grow the business would be to diversify the eggs for sale between chickens and ducks. Supply of hens eggs is competing with farmers operating on large scale with automation. Duck eggs are not and they command a higher price, as a preference for some new cultures in our community. We keep some musckovy and indian runner ducks on the pond to manage aquatic weeds. Suggest however research into khaki campbell ducks. They seem to have an even higher laying rate than the best laying hens and for a longer biological productive lifestyle than hens. Their meat (sold live only) is also tastier than of remaindered laying hens!
Reference: Pond Aquaculture Water Quality Management by Claude E. Boyd & Craig S. Tucker