When you start discussing what came first for our family-run business, the answer - surprisingly - is neither the chicken nor the egg. In fact, Pasture Pecker Eggs all began when Dave Miller decided it was time for a tree change and started laying the foundations for a free range egg farm on his parent’s property in Koonwarra.
Ian and Trish Miller purchased their stunning two and a half hectare property as a home to kick back and retire in - but Dave recognised the opportunity to finally fulfill his farming dream, and got to work convincing his dad a chicken farm was much more tempting than retirement. Sending his parents off on a caravanning trip with a book titled ‘How to start a free range chicken farm’ was the nail in the hen house and it wasn’t long before Dave had purpose built a custom chicken coop on wheels into the first Pasture Pecker Eggs chicken trailer - only the first of many to come, much to the bewilderment of our neighbours.
We started out with 165 chickens, and thanks to an awful lot of persistence, and trial and error, have grown into the booming egg business we are today. With 1300 chooks, Pasture Pecker Eggs now proudly stocks and supplies cafes, restaurants and stores throughout Gippsland. Our eggs are known by local chefs for being the best for poaching, and a number of restaurants have subscribed to regular deliveries of our eggs so their customers never miss out on perfectly poached eggs.
We’re a family-run farm where everyone in the Miller clan gets involved, including Dave’s wife, Katherine, and our three chief egg collectors, Emma, Jack and Lucy (although little Lucy still has a thing or two to learn about safe egg-handling practices!). With a steady commercial wholesale and retail offering, we’re thrilled to have grown our small endeavour to a point of consistent supply and ongoing contracts, which has enabled further investment in our business by way of additional land - and our feathered ladies of course!
To put it simply - we’re not happy unless our hens are. Ethical farming is non-negotiable for us, and our ladies live truly good lives, which is reflected in the exceptional quality of their eggs.
Our farming land spread over two locations and is situated in the rolling green hills of South Gippsland in the small town of Koonwarra.
We’re committed to providing expansive fields for our chickens, with no more than 500 chooks per hectare - only small numbers compared to the 10,000 chooks per hectare you’re likely to find on other chicken farms and who, incidentally, can still be classified as 'free range' (so always look close at the numbers on the carton when you're buying 'free range'). This ratio gives our girls plenty of space to roam which is really important to us. All of our chickens are raised on rich, green pastures and are pellet and grass fed, with their beaks kept on. Pellet feeding is essential due to the pecking order in the chooks, as it ensures all of our chickens are well fed and not dominated by others in the brood.
Our chickens and their trailers are moved to fresh locations in the paddock on a daily basis and relocated to an area with plenty of shade during our hot summers. All of the animals we keep on our farm serve a purpose - our cows are rotated through the paddocks to help keep the grass down, our pigs and goats move from paddock to paddock to help keep the weeds down, and our chickens play in our compost heap in order to break it down and create rich and fertile soil. Rotating the animals ensures there are no sour patches in the land, and thanks to our organic weed control (aka our goats and pigs), we have absolutely no need for chemicals sprays! In fact, there have been no sprays used on our property since we moved onto the farm over two years ago.
You’ve probably guessed by now that we really like to keep things moving on our farm, and to help make that possible, we’ve made just about everything mobile! From our fences and feeders to our water wagons, and goat and pig shed - everything is rotated regularly to make sure our chickens are kept on fresh pastures and are constantly in the best care possible. Thanks to the ingenuity, skills and experience of Dave and Ian, the majority of our equipment is actually built right here on the farm, including our feeders and water wagons, and we’re forever improving the design and build of our chicken houses to keep the ladies comfortable.
We keep our chickens for no more than 12 months to ensure their lay rates are consistently high and once our girls are retired from the farm, they’re sold to loving homes where they will continue to lay delicious eggs. At Pasture Pecker Eggs, we’re renowned for our beautiful chickens, so re-homing them is an easy task, and no one is ever left behind.
If you’d like to know more about the ethics and operations on our farm - please feel free to ask! We pride ourselves on the business we’ve built, and the beautiful home we’ve created for all of our animals.