Realising the free range dream

From cows to chickens, from corporate factory dairy farming to free range chickens, the dream for Angela and Phillip Glover at their Mt Roland farm was simple, to live off the land producing clean food in a natural environment, with an emphasis on using local produce and generating local wealth.

The Mt Roland Free Range story started in the 1990s with a dream to purchase their own farm and be self-employed. The couple started out as labourers on a dairy farm and spent the next seven years building up a herd of 500 dairy cows. However, disillusioned with the corporate factory farmer model they sold most of their herd.

They then purchased their current farm at Mt Roland and milked a small herd of 80 cows. After a few years, they found they were too small to remain viable and sold their cows. Angela and Phillip then pursued other work and the farm became a hobby farm. From 2006-2012 they purchased a food and wholesale tobacconist business which proved to be very successful but they still dreamed of living off their farm.

Free range organic farming was their passion and they fell into the egg business more by accident than design, starting with 300 point of lay pullets. “We did not want to farm how we did dairying along the line of mass production and the idea of Free Range has always appealed to us.”

“Animal welfare has been of the highest priority to us and creating an environment is as close to nature as economically possible is our goal. Where possible we avoid sprays and chemicals and always look for a natural alternative. Our dream to own our own farm, be self-employed, producing clean food from livestock living in a natural environment has become a reality.”

At Mt Roland Angela and Phillip produce free range eggs from their hens who live in solar powered mobile sheds. Each shed houses 250 layers and are stocked at a maximum of 1,000 hens per hectare.

The sheds are moved regularly on to fresh pasture, which gives the hens access to fresh grazing and bugs. The regular rotation of the housing also assists in preventing the build-up of diseases.

Mt Roland Free Range is sold in Northern Tasmania, which is in keeping with their philosophy of producing local food that is not transported long distances, is delivered fresh to consumers from ethically farmed animals. This means that the impact on the environment is minimised. They further prioritise local by supporting local business, the couple source their feed from a small mill near Railton, about 20 minutes from their farm. The mill in turn buys grain from surrounding farms.

This generates local wealth and creates local jobs. Their 40 hectare/100 acre farm now supports three fulltime jobs, 4,000 laying hens, 1,000 growers plus chicks and 70 Angus cattle. The next project for this dynamic and innovative duo, to produce free range meat birds is on the verge of also becoming a reality.

Angela and Phillip’s long term goal is to add farm tourism and education to their list of achievements. By opening Mt Roland to visitors, tourists and school groups it is hoped to educate people where their food comes from and how it can be produced humanely and profitably on a small farm.