>Grant Jolliffe, his wife Trudi and dad Bruce rear and process chickens and ducks on their property located 30 km north of Kempsey along the Stuarts Point Road. Their business, Poultry of Burrawong is developing a reputation for providing quality poultry to both local and metropolitan markets, and the Jolliffe family are regular visitors to the Hastings Farmers’ Markets at Wauchope.
> Give us a brief history of how Poultry of Burrawong got started …
We took over the farm in mid-April 2007. Prior to that, Trudi and I lived in Darwin and Cairns – I was in the Australian Defence Force, in the Army.
My dad has pretty much always been involved in poultry. He grew up on a sheep and wheat property in the central west at Forbes, and he always raised ducks and poultry himself as a young fellow. Prior to taking over the farm, he ran a retail stock feed shop for ten years on the Sunshine Coast.
> What sort of poultry do you raise?
We raise chickens and ducks. At any one time we have about 4,000 chickens on the ground and about 3,500 ducks.
The ducks are Pekin ducks and the chickens are standard broilers, or meat chickens. The birds come in as day-olds. The chickens come from up near Toowoomba, and the ducks from a hatchery near Tamworth. We raise them on the farm and then process them and pack and distribute them from here as well.
> How long do the birds spend on the farm, and how many do you process per week?
We process the chickens and the ducks at the same age. The birds that grow fastest – normally the drakes and the roosters – get processed at around 7 weeks of age. The following week, at 8 weeks of age, we do the remaining birds.
From the time we receive the birds at a day-old, until the time we process them, they remain on the farm.
Normally we process 500 chickens and 400 ducks per week.
> Describe an average day on the farm …
We have a small scale poultry processing facility on the farm – it’s all approved through the NSW Food Authority.
Trudi and I run the processing side and the packing and distributing. We’re up at 5.30am on processing days. We prepare the processing facility for operations, then we process the birds for about 6 or 7 hours. Then, there’s a couple of hours worth of clean up. That’s on Mondays and Fridays.
On Tuesdays, it’s just a massive day packing. Trudi and Dad pack orders, and me and an employee stand at the boning table, boning out the chickens for the orders we’ve received.
On the other side of the coin, Dad runs the outside areas. He cares for and feeds the stock and moves shelters around. He observes the birds to note if there are any problems.
It’s flat out!
> What’s special about your poultry – your birds aren’t kept caged up?
That’s right. Our birds are able to roam around free and enjoy the fresh air, sunlight and pasture.
We market our birds as chemical-free, because no chlorine is used in the processing plant.
> What is your connection with the Hastings Farmers’ Market at Wauchope?
We started visiting the Farmers Markets in September 2007. It was pretty much our first stepping stone to establishing some localised retail markets with butchers and direct to public sales. This helped us heaps with regard to feedback on product and presentation.
It’s worked well – it’s a good little farmers market.
> What’s the market for your poultry, and where can people purchase your product?
A lot of our sales go to the Sydney restaurant market – Neil Perry’s establishments, the Rockpool, Longrain Restaurant. Our product is getting into some highly respected establishments.
About half of our product goes down there (to Sydney), another third probably goes to the Brisbane restaurant market, and the rest is consumed locally by butchers and some restaurants in Port Macquarie and some butchers in Kempsey, Macksville and Coffs Harbour.
We do direct off-farm sales on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, or you can visit local butchers or the Hastings Farmers Markets.
Some of the businesses in the Port Macquarie area that stock our products are the butchers in Munster Street and Grumpy’s Tender Meat at the new Coles complex on the Oxley Highway.
Restaurant-wise, the Rainforest Café is buying our product for their café.
> Future plans for the business?
At the scale we’re operating at now, we’re producing a good number to keep up with the demand at the moment and not get too far behind.
We’ve slowly expanded some parts of the operation over the last six months; we’ve put more ducks on the ground.
We’re not looking at too massive an expansion though, because if you expand too much and get too big, something’s going to suffer. It’s often the quality of the product that suffers in the long run, and that’s something we don’t want to lose. We don’t want to lose the people that are paying for a really good product, like the top restaurants.
> Thank you Grant.
Poultry of Burrawong can be contacted on 6569 0901 for further information.