Starting a poultry farm in Queensland

If you are thinking about starting your own egg production or meat chicken farm in Queensland, you will need to be aware of the following requirements and issues.

Market

Before starting a poultry farm, you should investigate the different market options to sell your product.

Egg production

Egg producers may choose to sell their eggs:

  • to large retailers (e.g. the major supermarket chains)
  • to larger companies (e.g. egg suppliers and distributors)
  • directly to restaurants
  • through farmers markets
  • through smaller retailers (e.g. small supermarket chains).

Meat chicken production

In Queensland, many meat chicken growers contract with the 2 large national processors, others with local processors and some growers process and market their own chickens.

For producers interested in contracting with the main processing companies, contacting them directly is often the best way to see if they are interested in taking on new contract growers.

There are many different market options available, but it is important to research your market before committing to starting a poultry farm.

Site selection

Selecting the right site for your poultry farm is important for:

  • environmental management
  • protecting poultry health
  • ensuring access and availability of water and electricity
  • ensuring appropriate distance to market or processing facilities.

Contact your local council and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Customer Service Centre before purchasing land for a new poultry farm, diversifying into poultry on your current property, or expanding your current poultry operation. They will be able to guide you on the suitability of the site for poultry farming and any planning requirements that you will need to consider.

Poultry farms need to be separated from other existing sensitive land uses (not on the site of the poultry farm) to avoid or minimise environmental harm or nuisance. They also need to be set back from areas of environmental interest (non-rural zones), surface water, declared fish habitats, high ecological value waters and sites or places of significant cultural heritage or nature conservation.

Environmental and amenity impacts include factors such as odour, dust, noise and light. Having adequate separation distances from sensitive land uses can help to minimise these impacts.

Read the Eligibility criteria and standard conditions for poultry farming (ERA 4) - Version 2 ESR/2015/1706 (PDF, 64KB) for more information.

Protecting bird health

For biosecurity purposes, any new poultry farm should be located at least 1km from other poultry farms and 5km from breeder farms. If you are contract growing for a processor, you should check with the processor to confirm their minimum distance requirements.

For free range farms, greater distances may be required.

Availability of water, power, and all weather property access

Water supply

Access to an adequate and reliable water supply on poultry farms is important for bird health and welfare. Poultry farms need a reliable water supply for:

  • drinking water
  • cleaning
  • cooling
  • fire protection.

Access to ground or town supply is usually a much more reliable source than surface water, which may have a higher risk of contamination. Accessing water may require an authorisation such as a licence or permit.

Electricity

Depending on the size of your farm, three-phase power may be required, particularly for climate controlled and ventilated shedding.

Property access

All-weather road access to your property is important for deliveries including feed, birds and other inputs required to run a poultry farm. All-weather access is also important for delivering your product to market.

Distance from market or processing facilities

If you are considering being a meat chicken contract grower for one of the large processing companies, this will determine the location of the poultry farm. Most processing facilities are located in major cities and due to animal welfare reasons require their contract grower farms to be located within a 2-3 hour drive from the processing plant.

The freshness of your product and proximity to market is another consideration if selling direct to restaurants, small retailers or through farmers markets.

Contact DAF to speak to an environmental officer about site specific requirements for poultry farms.

Registering your property

Once you have 100 or more designated birds, you are required to register with Biosecurity Queensland to become a registered biosecurity entity (RBE). By registering for an RBE, you will automatically be allocated a Property Identification Code (PIC). If you already have a PIC, you will need to update your information with the number of animals kept on the property.

Safe food production

Poultry farms that produce and supply food for customers (i.e. meat or eggs) must be registered with Safe Food Production Queensland.

You should also be aware of food safety principles and hazards for poultry products.

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