As proposed in May, the Poultry CRC is conducting a survey of free range chicken farms across Australia in order to investigate the future direction of research in this area. So far more than 100 farmers have contributed their valuable input, sharing information about their production system, challenges and points of view. Thank you!!! As a follow up, about 30 farms all over the country are currently being visited by the investigators, Mini Singh (The University of Sydney), Isabelle Ruhnke (University of New England), Carolyn DeKoning (SARDI) and Kelly Drake (SARDI). As indicated in the survey, the environmental impact of various free range systems, the health status of the birds, the nutritional management and the welfare are major aspects that (among other things) require in depth investigation. The “Chicken Run” is a success already: the warm and professional conversations with farmers have resulted in a deep understanding of the challenges, possibilities and limitations that the people in this industry are facing. In addition, valuable soil, feed and faecal samples are being collected for analysis. With the final report being due in December, the study is in full swing. We are looking forward to being able to present findings of the survey and providing information about the main areas of concern to Australian farmers. These major concerns will require research inputs in the future, in order to maintain a sustainable and productive free range poultry sector in Australia.
To those of you who want to make a difference and contribute, the questionnaire for free range layer and broiler producers will be available until November 15th by clicking here.