When are you considered a to be running a poultry farm?
Under NSW Environmental & Planning Legislation all piggeries and poultry farms are classified as intensive agriculture, and all intensive agricultural activities require Development Approval from your local council and may also require State Government approval depending on your location. As much of our region is classified as water catchment, being classified as a poultry farmer, will most likely require both Local Government and State Government approval. These types of approvals can be both time consuming and expensive. It is therefore important to make sure your small farming operation remains outside of this regulatory framework. So how do you know if your chook flock makes you a poultry farmer? Finding an answer to this question can be somewhat vexing.
Like other intensive agricultural activities it all comes down to livestock numbers, and while this may seem somewhat arbitrary it is the simplest way for all involved in making a determination.
While State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) No 30—Intensive Agriculture provides clarity on pigs and cattle feed lots it fails to provide any clarity in relation to poultry. Why this is the case is unclear. Clarity on what constitutes a poultry farm is to be found the NSW Food Authority legislation and regulations. (Food Act 2003 NSW, Food Regulation 2015)
Poultry meat producers (farms)
Poultry meat producers, or poultry farms, are operations where more than 100 birds are grown at any one time for human consumption. Poultry means chicken, turkey, duck, squab (pigeon), goose, pheasant, quail, guinea fowl, mutton bird and other avian species.
Egg producers are businesses or farms that produce more than 20 dozen eggs for sale in any week.
The accepted view within this industry and according to the DPI (Department of Primary Industries) is that a commercial operation requires a minimum of 1,000 meat birds or 100 doz eggs per week. There is quite a large disparity between being considered a poultry farmer and having a commercial operation. Given that having more than 100 birds at one time puts you into the regulatory framework and the associated expense it seems somewhat inconsistent that this number is based at 10% of the minimum of what makes a commercial operation.
There appears to be two problems in relation to the definitions used for determining if you are a poultry farmer. The first is the legislation location. There is no logic to having Environmental & Planning Legislation defining intensive agriculture that does not include poultry farming. The second problem in one of the number disparity.
These matters need to be addressed. You can take action by discussing this issue with your local state member. Our representatives need to understand that the problems with definitions and legislation are being used at local level to seriously compromise small farming enterprises and advantage very big agri-businesses who are the only people who can afford to go through the multiple Development application processes and pay the massive Development Application costs involved.
I know that I said I would talk turkey on poultry farming, but my farming week has led me on other paths including holistic grazing plans, Intrepid Landcarers and garlic crop preparation. My foray into Holistic Management resulted in a day spent contemplating and developing a grazing management plan that includes not only sheep but meat chickens, geese and turkeys. On our small village farm we raise a couple of sheep from weaners to hogget. We usually raise 3 Dorper / Damara cross breeds at one time. They come as 4 month olds from a local farm. We usually kill one a just under 12 months (lamb) and keep they other two to grow out to hogget. We have grown very fond of them as a breed, they are reasonably intelligent as sheep go and generally can be tamed relatively easily, for handling.
In the course of the two years we run our sheep we also have pasture raised meat poultry, a small breeding flock of geese and from September through to December a small flock of turkeys for Christmas dinner. As our grazing space is limited and we need to run our poultry after the sheep, the concept of understanding the number of grazing days our small farm provides for each animal sparked keen interest. Yes, it is clear that we need more grazing days than we actually have but fortunately we acknowledge the need for supplementary feeding and factor this into our costs. Working through this process also helped me to understand the recovery time needed between ruminant grazing of our paddocks and the breakdown rate of manure etc. from our poultry flocks.
Definitely an interesting meander on our small farm journey, which then leads us onto garlic planting preparation and Intrepid Landcare.
This Landcare movement provides a common space to inspire, connect and empower young people to join local environmental initiatives in their communities. We have a branch connected with Canberra University who have offered time in our region. This week we finalised arrangements for a group to help with our garlic planting. We provide accommodation and meals for the weekend; an overview of our farming enterprise, our philosophy and approach and they will lend a hand in our garlic endeavours. The weekend will finish up with a bush walk guided by our LandCare officer. We are excited by the opportunity to share and exchange with this wonderful young group.
So yes another meander, this one through the bush, but an exciting opportunity for us all.
Hopefully this week will not see me led astray and talking turkey will proceed.
The weather is stunning! Happy farming days.
It almost sounds like an Irish joke, but in fact it is a very important question. According to our local council 1 pig can make you a pig farmer and 1 chook can make you a poultry farmer.
So does this really matter you ask? Yes it does! There are significant implications if your small farm activity is deemed to be a piggery or a poultry farm. First of all under NSW Environmental & Planning Legislation all piggeries and poultry farms are classified as intensive agriculture. This has nothing to do with your farming practice or philosophy. Whether you are free ranging, organic or see your animals as purely production units a piggery or a poultry farm is classified as intensive agriculture, not extensive agriculture. All intensive agricultural activities require a Development Application. Kaching goes the cash register. Further more if you are also located in a water catchment area, which is the case for about 80% of our Local Government Area (and about 70% of the state) you also require a Designated Development Application - ka-ching ka-ching and an Environmental Impact Statement- even more $$$.
This seems some what unrealistic to say the least. So a further chat with Council to clarify the situation. Accordingly, the gods of our planning department assert that determining an activity as intensive agriculture primarily depends on whether livestock “are fed wholly or substantially on externally-sourced feed.” Well I don't know any person who keeps chooks, pigs or horses in particular who does not purchase feed for these animals. And how much is substantially any way? This seems very subjective. Surely there must be a clearer way of determining how many pigs makes you a pig farmer?
Surprise, Surpirse! Yes there is. There is state wide Legislation (SEPP) No 30—Intensive Agriculture
that provides a clear definition of what makes you a pig farmer:..."200 or more pigs or 20 or more breeding sows,..." I should point out that state legislation overrides local government legislation. Apparently our planning gurus missed this one.
The moral of the riddle. Don't let local government make your small farming enterprise their cash cow.
Lets keep raising happy pigs! Next week I will talk turkey on poultry farming.
The art of cooking and eating seasonally was showcased with an "Aperitivo" on Tuesday in the early evening at Wynlen House slow food farm, Braidwood. We invited local chefs and restaurateurs for drinks (Aperol spritzers of course), a garden tour and canapes made from our garden produce.
The idea was to help local chefs connect with local, seasonal food and understand what is growing now and what will be ready In the next few weeks as the Autumn season deepens into Winter. We also needed to understand how chefs work out menus and decide what vegetables to use so we can adjust planting and plant selection. Gathering such mutual understanding makes working together a real possibility.
We served garlic bread with three different garlic varieties - and yes, people could taste the difference between the varieties. We also served spanakopita with our greens of nettle, sorrel and silverbeet. We added kohlrabi slaw, parsnip puff, and skewered pumpkins (3 varieties) which went down well too.
Representatives from Slow Food Canberra (4C's), Caroline and Cindy came along to help which we really appreciated. They are real drivers of the slow food movement in our region and work endlessly towards creating an understanding among consumers (co-producers) and growers of clean, local and fair food.
Feedback has been terrific and we have already had produce orders from the chefs who attended. Couldn't have asked for a better result. The best part was spending time getting to know the people who serve us such great food all year around and sharing with them the joys of growing the best vegetables we can for them to serve to the local community.
Bronwyn Richards has cared for animals and has been growing vegetables successfully all her adult life. She is principle gardener for Wynlen House Farm