When Leeville farmers Greg and Sheila Galea lost their contract to grow meat chickens for Inghams Chickens, they decided to switch enterprises and diversify.
Without a contract but with a massive mortgage, Greg rapidly changed his focus to egg production and since December, he hasn’t stopped.
“We bought 10,000 layers and now we have 7000 eggs daily,” Greg said.
He has free-range pastured chickens as well as quails and ducks.
To find a market for his eggs, he “hit the road”.
His eggs are now stocked at the Spar in East Lismore, Pirlos in Lismore, the Whiporie General Store, Herne’s Butchery and Maslens Butcher and the egg man at Rocklea markets takes a regular order of 250 boxes.
Greg had to build his own egg collector because they didn’t have the money to buy one ready-made. “I built 140 A-frames and we hand collect all our eggs.”
As well as egg production Greg and Sheila have set up a plant nursery and holiday log cabins on their property.
Greg was at the Richmond Valley Made Paddock to Plate session at Casino Civic Hall last Wednesday.
Consultancy firm Regionality ran the session, supported by Richmond Valley Council.
Consultant Rose Wright talked to the crowd of producers about improving their farms.
“Innovation doesn’t have to be about inventing something new,” she said. “It can be about taking something new to customers.”
She said farming had changed.
“In 1900, 90 cents of every dollar went to the farmer, now 10 cents in every dollar goes to the farmer.”
To stop being a rat on a treadmill and doing the same thing over and over, there were two ways for farmers to grow their business, she said.
“Get big or create layers of value.”
In an area like the Northern Rivers, buying more land wasn’t an option. Instead farmers needed to innovate to succeed.
This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 3 March 2021.