Free-range egg farm set to quadruple after expansion
A FREE-range egg farm in the Toowoomba region hopes to quadruple its production if an expansion proposal is approved.
Jalbirri Googums Egg Farm presented its plan to the Toowoomba Regional Council this week to increase its current population of hens from 2500 to about 10,000 at a new facility in Evanslea.
The company could then shift nearly 50,000 eggs a week by its own estimates.
Co-owner Andrew Ruhle said the move was necessary to keep up with demand for their free-range eggs, which he said had continued to grow.
"It's not a big expansion - it's a drop in the ocean, but we've got to start somewhere," he said.
"The response from people been great - the easiest part is finding a home for the eggs, we can't keep up with demand."
Mr Ruhle started farming the eggs with his wife Ali back in 2015 as a hobby, with a focus on ensuring each bird had at least 14m of roaming space.
"This was a first for us - we're grain farmers out here and we started it up to see if we could do it," he said.
"At the moment it is a hobby business, but we intend to turn into a fully functioning business - the plan is to get it to that stage.
"The main aim was to test the waters and see if we could do it and see what it would take to market the eggs.
"We're a low stocking density egg farm so it's pushing us into a niche market, but it allows us to get our foot in the door."
Along with its main outlet at the Westridge Fruit and Veg Shop, Mr Ruhle sells eggs at farmers markets across the region.
The expanded facility on Toowoomba-Cecil Plains Rd is nearly 50km outside Toowoomba.
The company's application to the council shows after the eggs are collected, they are cleaned, graded, assessed for cracks and transported to stores.