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What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
For Dee Oliver and Brendon Albon, their chickens come first.
Their small Hororata chicken farm, Little Red Farm is free-range and pasture-raised, meaning every week the sheds and chickens are moved and put on fresh grass.
“The chickens are healthier and happier and it does make a difference in the egg,” says Dee.
New to chicken farming, Dee and Brendon bought Little Red Farm in December 2020 from previous owners Ben and Lucy Millar, who started the farm in Waddington. Growing up on her family farm in Hororata, Dee has always loved working with animals. When she saw the farm advertised on Trade Me she knew it was the perfect fit.
“We were looking at doing something for ourselves and that came up and we decided it would work out perfect. I look after my parent’s farm and we thought chickens and cows, they go really well together. ”
Today the whole family are involved with the business, including her 9 and 10 year old children, Lilly and Luke.
“The kids enjoy it, my daughter Lilly has named half of them,” laughs Dee.
Little Red Farm has 475 chickens, laying a daily average of 430 eggs. Dee says the number of eggs will increase in a few months’ time once some of their newer hens come on the lay.
The eggs, available from pullets (size 4) to mix-grade (size 5-6) and large (size 7) are delivered on Tuesday mornings to customers in Kirwee and Darfield and Thursday mornings to Rolleston. On Friday mornings they sell at the Ohoka Market with jumbos (size 8).
The eggs are also supplied to several Selwyn eateries including the Hororata Bar and Café, The Fat Beagle Café, Terrace Downs Resort, Coalgate Tavern, G&T Catering at Larcomb Vineyard and the cafeteria at Rolleston College.
Dee says the customer feedback has been amazing, customers love the vibrant orange yolks and have even found rare triple yolkers.
All of Little Red Farm’s packaging is recyclable and made from recycled materials. They also collect old egg cartons that can be composted if not reused.
After travelling overseas for seven years, Dee says it was nice to return to her childhood home of Hororata.
“Our farm is on the Hororata River, it’s just a good place to be, it’s a beautiful spot.”
Her partner Brendon, a former builder, also enjoys spending time on the farm with the animals. When he’s not working part-time maintaining dairy farms, he helps grade eggs, clean the chicken sheds and deliver eggs for Little Red Farm.
Dee says the chickens follow them around everywhere and have almost become like pets.
“The chickens just love people, they love us, they come running to us whenever we are anywhere near them.”