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GRAHAM COWLING
Poultry Consultant
Sustainable Ethical Support Advice
From a young steel city ‘tradie’
to chook farmer…
 I grew up on the shores of Lake Macquarie and attended
school in the, ...
35 years in intensive
commercial poultry
 I continued to work for some of Australia’s major
poultry meat and egg producer...
Chook’s life in a shed
Transition from Intensive
to FREE Range
 An opportunity arouse to work on an organic free-
range egg production farm
 By...
Who Let the Chooks OUT!
 While I knew what free-range poultry was about –
nothing prepared me for the first sight of 12,0...
Chook’s life in a paddock
My FIRST Biggest Challenge! To
reduce MORTALITY..
 By now in my career as a poultry farm manager - I knew a fair
bit abou...
 The hens seemed healthy
 While post mortems showed some grass impaction
 This did not explain the staggering mortality...
The camera doesn't LIE
 A long and lasting relationship between the
Wombat and the Fox….
 One does the digging – the oth...
Our troublesome team at
work
How to keep out
WOMBATS??
 My next major learning curve was how to keep out
the wombats!
 The longstanding morning ritua...
The DILEMMA of fencing
 I thought the answer was electric fencing!!
 There was major infrastructure for 240v electric
fe...
The KILLING Fields..
After yet another sleepless night and waking to the
FRUSTRATION of dollars being lost to dead chooks
...
Drinks with a MATE
 Sharing my dilemma with my partner, Judy’s
brother, Rod Chant (farm lad, come ‘sparkie’) over a
few d...
More GRUNT from the
SUN
 I needed an electric fence unit to get the wombats
attention
 Gallagher had the one I needed.
...
EGGS eggs and more
EGGS
 Mortality plummeted, production increased, sales
increased $$
 These rest was fine tuning: addr...
Harmony on a free range
farm
Graham Cowling Poultry Consultant - Powerpoint
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Graham Cowling Poultry Consultant - Powerpoint

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Graham Cowling Poultry Consultant - Powerpoint

  1. 1. GRAHAM COWLING Poultry Consultant Sustainable Ethical Support Advice
  2. 2. From a young steel city ‘tradie’ to chook farmer…  I grew up on the shores of Lake Macquarie and attended school in the, then ‘steel city’ of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.  After leaving school I gained an apprenticeship as a boiler maker. A trade that later was handy when maintaining poultry equipment.  After completing my apprenticeship as a boiler maker, myself and my workmates were made redundant.  About to get married I needed a job immediately and my fiancée's uncle took me to work on a chook farm!
  3. 3. 35 years in intensive commercial poultry  I continued to work for some of Australia’s major poultry meat and egg producers for some 35 years.  Working in all facets from breeding, hatchery, breeders, broilers (meat) birds, egg layers, egg production  On occasion I returned to my trade as a boiler maker and worked in the mines and heavy industry.  But I seemed to always get ‘drawn’ back to the ‘chooks’!
  4. 4. Chook’s life in a shed
  5. 5. Transition from Intensive to FREE Range  An opportunity arouse to work on an organic free- range egg production farm  By then in the intensive world of chooks I spent a lot of my time and expertise ‘fine tuning’ the shed environment with computers and helping computer programmers write programs for these computers that ‘run’ the big sheds.  Time for this big rooster to ‘fly the coop’ of the ‘shed-life’ and go free ranging!
  6. 6. Who Let the Chooks OUT!  While I knew what free-range poultry was about – nothing prepared me for the first sight of 12,000 hens running on a 1400 acre paddock!  I immediately exclaimed: ‘Who let the chooks out!’  A comment that I have never lived down
  7. 7. Chook’s life in a paddock
  8. 8. My FIRST Biggest Challenge! To reduce MORTALITY..  By now in my career as a poultry farm manager - I knew a fair bit about all aspects of intensive poultry and commercial egg production.  Problem solving I enjoy and I will go to no end to find a solution.  But now I knew I had a to LEARN about free- range pastured poultry farming.  My initial intention was to increase production of eggs to increase sales.  BUT firstly I was met with staggering MORTALITY rates!  WHY? What was killing the chooks?
  9. 9.  The hens seemed healthy  While post mortems showed some grass impaction  This did not explain the staggering mortality rates…  I suspected foxes but there were Maremma dogs......  So the avid ‘hunter’ in me decided to put up some of my own night cameras....  And guess what I found.... What was KILLING the chooks?
  10. 10. The camera doesn't LIE  A long and lasting relationship between the Wombat and the Fox….  One does the digging – the other does the killing...  Forget electrified fencetops – when the wombat can did underneath.  So to increase productivity: decrease mortality rates = keep out the WOMBATS..
  11. 11. Our troublesome team at work
  12. 12. How to keep out WOMBATS??  My next major learning curve was how to keep out the wombats!  The longstanding morning ritual when came to my first free range farm – was for 2 farmhands to take the tractor, get rocks, fill in the wombat holes = min.2 hours / day per person  Every night the wombats dug out the rocks…and the foxes followed...  A never ending costly cycle that I felt compelled to END... But HOW?
  13. 13. The DILEMMA of fencing  I thought the answer was electric fencing!!  There was major infrastructure for 240v electric fencing – that was no longer utilized. I was told they had lost the battle with the grass on the kilometers of fences on an organic farm (yes, no Round-up) was a unbeatable task.  Electronetting had proved ineffective with the wombats. Hundreds of meters were stored in the shed.  SCRATCHIN’ my head, laying AWAKE at night…
  14. 14. The KILLING Fields.. After yet another sleepless night and waking to the FRUSTRATION of dollars being lost to dead chooks and labour in the never ending cycle of filling in holes with rocks… I still battled for the answer: local electric fence experts said “you’ll never get enough power from solar electric fences to stop a wombat”. I kept meeting BRICK walls…
  15. 15. Drinks with a MATE  Sharing my dilemma with my partner, Judy’s brother, Rod Chant (farm lad, come ‘sparkie’) over a few drinks too many:  “..forget trying to ressurect the existing 240v disused electric fencing system..  ...stick in some ‘tread ins’, high enough to hit a wombat on the nose..pull them up, mow and replace....install battery banks & inverter in a old fridge & some large solar panels on the outside...”
  16. 16. More GRUNT from the SUN  I needed an electric fence unit to get the wombats attention  Gallagher had the one I needed.  When I went to purchase all the equipment from Gallagher they said if this works: “ you’ll be the first it the world, mate!”  It worked…and Gallagher asked me to write a testimonial for their website. They said: “Eastern Europe will love this…!!”
  17. 17. EGGS eggs and more EGGS  Mortality plummeted, production increased, sales increased $$  These rest was fine tuning: addressing grass impaction with apple cider vinegar and ‘tweaking’ the feed rations…  Healthy Hens Happy Farmer 
  18. 18. Harmony on a free range farm

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