Hunter Country Farm - Fresh Open Range Eggs approved at Muswellbrook Shire Council meeting

FARMERS Steven and Therese Moffitt are already looking to the future following the approval of their free range poultry egg operation near Muswellbrook.

And, so far, they have received plenty of local support.

A number of people backed their enterprise – Hunter Country Farms – at Muswellbrook Shire Council’s meeting on Tuesday night.

In an extra sign of their allegiance, the group wore badges stating their position.

Mr Moffitt addressed council regarding the development application (DA) for his free range poultry egg operation at McCullys Gap.

Council received a complaint in July 2016 regarding the keeping of a large number of chickens on the property.

Following this, the Moffitts arranged to have their site inspected by council, and it was determined a DA would be required, due to the nature of the operation being classed as intensive livestock agriculture.

Mr Moffitt said Hunter Country Farm had addressed all areas of potential concern in a professional and courteous manner.

“Our aims in commencing this venture were to enhance our existing farming enterprise whilst promoting farming and sustainable agricultural activities within our region, to supply fresh local products grown and raised on our farm,” he said.

“Our future plans and aspirations for our framing enterprise include using our farm as an example for education.

“We have hosted two Charles Sturt University students to date.

“Our approach will be multifaceted referring to sustainable agriculture in our area, free range farming practices, animal welfare, agricultural and industry diversification, and farm planning.

“Our long-term goal would be to link our farming enterprise with eco-tourism and farm stay-type educational retreats.”

Mr Moffit said he believed the venture fitted well with future aspirations of council for the shire and community.

“We have adhered to all requests made by council whilst maintaining a professional and compliant disposition,” he said.

Council approved the DA, after altering some details of the plan, including the vegetation screening.

The farmers were delighted with the outcome, keen to get back to their property of more than 1000 chickens they affectionately call “our girls”.

The free range poultry activity will be restricted to an area of approximately 1.4 ha.