There’s a reason why the eggs from Bangalow Eggs taste so good. Farmer Tom Bridge says it comes down to their deep-litter mulch system.
‘We use a deep-litter system, which is where we supply the paddocks that the chickens roam in with deep layers of mulch,’ Tom says. ‘I buy truckloads of bales and we fill up the paddocks with mulch so the chickens have something to scratch through.
‘This way they have access to more insects than just walking around on the grass and eating pellets. It also keeps them occupied and active so they don’t get bored, and it improves the flavour of their eggs. We get lots of people who rave about the flavour of our eggs.
‘Chickens actually came from the jungle, so this method is better for them rather than just free-ranging in paddocks. It allows them to do their natural job, which is to scratch around and find insects.’
Tom and his partner, Amanda, run between 1200 and 1500 birds on ten acres at Bangalow. Their chook of choice is a hybrid called a Bond Black, a Black Australorp crossed with a Rhode Island Red. And while it’s not the most productive breed, Tom says it is the best suited to this area and for living outside.
‘We don’t have sheds,’ he says. ‘Our birds live outside and are provided with a “house” where they can roost and lay eggs.’ The flock is protected by 1.8m high fences fitted with electric wires and cables that run through the air above them to keep predators out.
Luckily for locals, they have weekly access to Bangalow Eggs at Byron and Bangalow Farmers Markets every Thursday and Saturday. Tom and Amanda joined the farmers’ markets about four years ago. Prior to that they were wholesaling to local restaurants and cafes.
‘I really love the farmers’ markets,’ Tom says. ‘It’s very rewarding being able to sell directly to your customers because you get instant feedback – it’s so much more than just watching your boxes of eggs being loaded onto a truck. And there’s a real sense of community that you don’t get when you’re just wholesaling.’
Byron Farmers Market is held Thursdays 7–11am at the Cavanbah Centre (Butler St Reserve from 2 December), and Bangalow Farmers Market is Saturdays 7–11am, behind the Bangalow pub.