Thursday 14 November 2013
Hansard of the Legislative Council
SMALL SCALE EGG
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, more
Tasmanians are growing their own fruit and vegetables than they have for
decades, probably since I was a boy, and that is a few years ago. If you ask
any local nursery how their vegetable seeds and seedlings are selling, you will
find the response will be very positive. It may be a passing fashion, but it is
there. People want to save money on food and they like to think what they grow
themselves is healthier.
The same thing is happening with eggs. I am sure many of us
remember the days of our parents keeping a few chooks, and in those days it was
quite expensive to buy a chicken for the Sunday roast. We probably remember the
old chopping block and the smell of wet plucked feathers. That is a smell that
I cannot stand to this day.
If you need persuading of the interest in small-scale egg
production and in maintaining pure poultry breeds, you need only look at the
Poultry Club of Tasmania's annual auction. It is held at the Longford
Showgrounds on the Sunday after Agfest in May each year.
Ms Rattray - That is not in your electorate.
Mr FINCH - I am roaming far and wide. This year
about 370 lots were auctioned to a large crowd of all ages. To cut to the
chase, the Exeter
High School, in my
electorate, sold 15 Barnevelder pullets bred by the students and they fetched
fantastic prices. That rare breed from Holland,
and we see a few of those, has a big genetic base in Tasmania carefully maintained by
enthusiastic breeders. Anyone who listens to ABC radio on a Saturday morning
will hear Paul Healy, in the member for Huon's electorate, talking about them.
Ms Rattray - He talks about small holdings.
Mr FINCH - Yes, but these Barnevelder chickens
are his specialty. Other popular breeds at the Longford auction were
Australorps, Wyandottes, Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Langshans and Welsummers.
Most of those breeds at the Longford auction sold for more than $50 each. They
bring in a lot of money, particularly for the Exeter High School.
Breeders realise it is important to keep this genetic stock
viable so that the larger poultry industry has that breeding base which they
need. Many highly efficient egg producing hybrid birds - ISA Browns and Hylines
- were developed from some of these older breeds. The Australian poultry
industry would be the poorer without them.
If you head into Launceston on the old Hobart Road from the Breadalbane turnoff,
in the member for Western Tiers' electorate, you pass on your right a new
complex of steel buildings and silos. This is Seedhouse Tasmania which, among other things, produces
a range of poultry food. It is Tasmanian owned and it uses mainly
Tasmanian-grown grains. Its mixture of cracked grains in bags is sold mainly
for small and backyard poultry keepers. There is one mixture specially
formulated for backyard and free-range hens. Seedhouse's manager, Matt Crane,
says sales are booming. He believes that small-scale poultry keeping is more
popular in Tasmania
than other states.
One of the big problems faced by amateur egg producers is a
regular production. Unlike commercial producers, who use techniques like timed
lighting and strategic breeding to compensate for the drop in production as the
daylight hours shorten, small producers have famines or gluts. When they have
too many eggs, they mostly give some away or they sell at the roadside or
through their local shop, and some sell at farmers markets, like the Launceston
Ms Rattray - Let's hope they can continue to do
Mr FINCH - Yes. Their eggs are popular because
they are mostly free range and very fresh. Buyers have the impression, of
course, that the eggs come from hens kept in humane and healthy conditions, and
usually they are right. It is impossible to quantify the number of small
poultry breeders in Tasmania,
and I expect the numbers vary from decade to decade. I believe that small-scale
egg production and interest in keeping poultry is now on a roll throughout Tasmania. We know the
state government is trying to adapt the coming national egg code so it does not
amateur poultry industry. I believe successful modifications have been made in
One important point I would like to make, which we
legislators need to keep in mind, is that when people do not respect the law
and decide to break it, a culture can develop - a culture that says laws are to
be broken if they do not entirely suit us. That is detrimental to any society
and that makes the law an ass.