Two chicken farms in the region are set to get started.
Two chicken farms in the region are set to get started. Brenda Strong

Best laid plans for two chicken farms

WORK on two major meat chicken farms for the Warwick area is expected to get under way by the end of the year.

Plans by the New South Wales-based Carr Farming Trust for a 1.6 million bird operation at Elbow Valley and by the Fessey family for a 700,000 bird farm at Pratten are now awaiting final building and operational works permits and will then be ready to proceed.

The Carr Farming Trust had been locked in a lengthy and expensive legal battle over conditions imposed by the Southern Downs Regional Council which was resolved when the council lost the case in March.

Carr Farming challenged a condition set by the council to ban the construction of any future buildings other than a caretaker's residence on land acting as a buffer zone between the sheds and adjoining properties.

The Planning and Environment Court ruled the council condition void, meaning Carr Farming could in the future apply to expand its 1.6 million-bird operation inside the buffer zone subject to planning rules in place at the time.

It is understood costs awarded against the council could total $30,000.

Spokesman Brad Carr said he was confident work would begin on his Elbow Valley site on Cullendore Rd - formerly the home of Condamine River Meats - "before Christmas".

"We have some final requirements with operational works which we need to complete," Mr Carr said.

"We are confident we will have six sheds up and running by Christmas and we are looking at eventually employing the equivalent of around 30 full-time workers."

When complete the Carr plan is expected to involve a total of 28 sheds each housing 60,000 birds, which are grown out from day-old chicks over eight weeks before being processed by Ingham's at its Murarrie plant in Brisbane and the Toggles plant at Ipswich.

Sam Fessey, who has approval for a smaller 'broiler' farm on the former Danpork site at Pratten is likewise obtaining final building permits.

"We remain hopeful of a start before the end of the year, that's our plan," Mr Fessey said.

"It's a big process that you need to go through and we need final building approval before we can move a stick on the site.

"In terms of jobs the formula for chicken farms is that for every 150,000 of birds you need one full-time employee, but the reality is you need workers at different stage of the process."

 

History of the chicken meat industry

1950s

  • Chicken meat production is an offshoot of egg production
  • Mostly backyard producers and larger family operations
  • First scientifically bred meat chicken strain introduced in 1959
  • Commercial industry born in outer Sydney in 1959

1960s

  • Commercial chain processing introduced in 1962; continued rapid expansion of the industry

1970s

  • Fast service restaurant stores for chicken established in Australia - KFC opened 75 shops in Australia within 12 months from 1970 to 1971
  • Production more than doubled as a result of improvements in genetics, refinement of nutrition and broiler chicken husbandry and improvements in processing technologies
  • Further growth in demand

1980s and 1990s

  • New breeding strains introduced with changes to importation requirements
  • Introduction of tunnel ventilation in 1992 enabled further production intensification
  • Production and consumption continued to grow to meet demand from a growing population in South East Queensland

2000 onwards

  • Continuing growth in production and consumption
  • Competition for land use between community and industry emerge as a major issue - in early 2001, a community interest group called Residents Advocating Broiler Environmental Reform (RABER) was formed in the Beaudesert Shire.
  • Meat Poultry Task Force was established in August 2001 to foster a sustainable poultry industry in Queensland.
  • A community interest group called Sustainable Poultry Alliance was formed in late 2004.
  • In November 2005, the Meat Poultry Task Force ceased operation; since then court judgments increasingly have not favoured the establishment of meat poultry farms
  • Southern Downs identified in recent years as a prime location for intensive chicken production given land availability and proximity to metro processing and distribution resources


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