Papanui Open Range Eggs


How are the chooks?

A very common question these days. I usually say, “They’re well thanks, they asked me to send their regards”.

Why are your eggs called “Open Range” rather than “Free Range”?

Because we have seen so called “free range” chooks. We don’t want to be associated with the “free range” label because our chooks are run under such a different system. They are totally free to roam wherever they want, to scratch in the dirt and have a dust bath, to fly into a tree if there is one handy. They are moved to fresh pasture regularly, sometimes 300 metres away, sometimes 3 kilometres or more away. They don’t get to play in the same fouled area day after day. They are following a large herd of beef cattle in a planned rotational grazing regime. “Open Range” seems to convey the message we try to get across in just two words. We have made a short video from a drone that shows exactly how the chooks live.

What is so special about your eggs?

Our chooks are moved every few days to fresh clean pasture. This enables them to find much of their food from the paddock which gives the eggs the flavour and colour that is typical of our eggs. The chooks themselves have a completely free life, no cages or fences at all. We have had visitors to Papanui that have said, “If I had to be a chook, I’d like to be one of your chooks!” See our movie that tells the story, this is different from the drone video.

Why are your egg yolks so dark compared to factory eggs?

Our chooks have access to green grass whenever the seasonal conditions provide it. The green grass when eaten gives the eggs that lovely colour – even when the grass is not so green when it hasn’t rained for a while, we still get good colour in our eggs. During the worst of the drought in 2007 we did notice that the colour was a bit pale though.

Why did I get a funny coloured egg white/yolk?

Because of the total freedom that our chooks have they can eat a very wide variety of foods, bugs, weeds, soil, you name it. Sometimes we have a big growth of certain plants which the chooks just devour, usually in spring, that can make the eggs behave in different ways during cooking. (Chefs call it “spring eggs”). We even get green looking whites sometimes. – see next question

Should I break each egg into a cup before adding it to other ingredients?

Yes. The only way to be sure what is in an egg is to break it open. Better to be safe than sorry.

Do you eat these eggs too?

Sure do. We used to have a chook yard behind the homestead like many farmers do so we had some fresh eggs for the table and we had somewhere to chuck the table scraps. We still do have some chooks so Di has somewhere to chuck the scraps, but we prefer the eggs we produce out in the paddocks to the back yard ones. We think the flavour is better. Also we are quality control each time we eat our product! The other thing which we believe is important is that the chooks way out in the paddocks are far removed from any buildings. I know that in days gone by we routinely had our houses and sheds sprayed with long lasting insecticides to control termites. Those chemicals have been banned now, but they surely must still be in the soil around these structures. Chooks love to scratch in the soil and eat bugs and stones to aid their digestion. We would rather have them eating that stuff in a clean non chemical environment. We know of some people who keep their chooks very close to or even under their house. Makes you wonder a bit doesn’t it?

How do you have your eggs in the morning?

Mark likes them poached in a little water in a fry-pan until the white is just set then put onto buttered toast with Vegemite then sprinkled with Tabasco sauce. Di likes them poached as above, on buttered toast with salt and pepper.

How should I store my eggs?

In the fridge in the carton you purchased them in if you want them to keep as fresh as possible. We store them in coolrooms at 10 degrees or lower until they are delivered to our retailers. It is best to use them as soon as possible, rather than do a big stock up at one time from the shop.

Do you sell other Papanui products?

We produce beef cattle from grass, but at this stage we don’t sell at the retail level.

Can I Buy Papanui Eggs in Forster/Taree/Coolah/Dubbo etc?

We only sell in our local area plus Newcastle and certain areas in Sydney at this stage. The cost of transport is the stumbling block for small operations like ours. The Sydney run is worthwhile because our truck has a full load so the cost of fuel and labour is spread across enough eggs to keep the price down. If we can get the eggs delivered to a new area to the high standard that we expect, then we will do it. If you can help us with transport ideas then we can help you get great eggs to your area.

There are new stores opening in our area they are part of a chain, with lots of great food, will you provide your eggs to them?

Our understanding is that these stores are owned by one of the big supermarket companies. The way these companies make their big profits is by hammering farmers on payment terms and other pricing mechanisms. You may think that as a consumer that is OK. We don’t think that. If the suppliers to these stores are not making enough profit they will simply stop producing. You as the final end user will have less choice. Believe it or not, but you are the most powerful person in this equation. Where you shop, how much you spend, the ethical standards you apply to your spending, these are the things that determine the success or failure of the stores and their suppliers. So you are voting every time you spend. So what is the answer to the question above? No.

I have noticed that your list of retailers changes regularly, why?

We are in the process of increasing production and are adding new sellers as production allows. Also many of our earlier stores have changed owners since we started with them, some are on their third in less than ten years. The new owners sometimes change their target customer and don’t see our eggs as part of the new look. Other shops we let go as they are difficult to deal with, we think life is too short to have to battle with unpleasant people. Still others are slow to pay us. We work very long hours to produce the best eggs we possibly can. The quickest way for a retailer to stop getting our eggs is to not pay us on time.

Are you certified organic?

No. This is covered in other places on this site, but basically we believe that for us to be certified organic we would have to forgo some of our management practices which we believe are essential to the health and well-being of our land and livestock. As custodians of the land and carers of the animals we are committed to doing the best job we can using whatever means are at hand – provided that our health and wealth is not adversely affected. Click here for the full version, you need to click on the tab “Organics” in “Our Story” section.

How do you keep foxes from killing your chooks?

We have wonderful Maremma livestock guardian dogs that live with the chooks, day and night. They chase and sometimes kill foxes. They also bark at the wedgetail eagles that try to take our chooks. They also do a good job at getting rid of feral cats that roam the wild that do enormous damage to native wildlife. Although large dogs, they can be extremely gentle. They are quite timid, and take a long while to accept new people as trusted friends, but once they are your friend, you can have no greater friend in the world. We love our Maremmas. See our movie

Can you re-use the egg cartons?

Unfortunately no. The rules say eggs for sale must be packaged in new cartons. Packaging is made from recycled paper, and can be recycled again. Sarah Luck made this suggestion which sounds good to me.

“A quick thank you for your wonderful eggs. I have several clients who have been vegans and due to health reasons have been forced to eat some animal products – I recommend your eggs (and your website) and they are more than happy to eat them. We eat them every day, sometimes my partner and I get through 2 dozen in a week! Anyway, I was just reading through your FAQ and saw the Q on recycling egg cartons. We recycle ours by soaking in water and feeding to our worm farm then into the garden. I also dry the egg shells, grind them in a coffee grinder and add them to the worm farm.

Thanks again.

Yours in good health

Sarah Luck

What do you do with your old chooks?

We sell them locally to families that keep backyard chooks. They usually get lots of eggs from them for a year or so. If you become a friend to our facebook page  you’ll be notified when we update there, we always let our facebook friends know when we have chooks available. We also advertise in our local town paper The Ringer.