SHE may be only 19 years of age but that hasn’t stopped Bundaberg’s Courtney Fleming from taking flight in the business world and establishing her own pasture fed egg farm, despite never eating them herself.
Like many good entrepreneurs, Ms Fleming put her second year of university studies on hold and purchased 1500 laying chooks and their coops for a spare paddock of her parent’s Bucca cattle property.
Just six months on, Ms Fleming’s Happy Hens Pastured Eggs business has 2400 laying hens and is selling 1000 dozen eggs each week to 26 different Bundaberg customers, including IGA and Foodworks.
Her chickens are free to graze on 20 acres (eight hectares) of pasture at a time under the watchful eye of Maremma dogs, and are moved to fresh feed every two days.
While she knows the benefits of pasture fed methods for both her chickens and her customers, Ms Fleming has never eaten her own product.
“I eat chicken, not eggs,” she said.
“I’ve heard from people that they do taste better (than free range or normal eggs).”
Ms Fleming employs one staff member to assist her with the business, which includes packaging products of a morning, collecting 1500 eggs at midday and cleaning and drying them overnight.
She delivers the eggs herself and is hoping to expand into other towns and cities, with Brisbane customers already making enquires.
The chickens are replaced after they reach 14 months of age due to a decrease in egg quality and softer shells.
Ms Fleming said her decision to take up chicken farming came from her experiences at university.
“We had the land and I did case studies in uni and I’ve had chooks before and I thought it would be an easy way to start my own business,” she said.
“They get free roam, they never get locked up and they can eat all the bugs and everything underneath.
“I did the first year then I deferred it for now because I want to focus on my business, I’m not sure if i want to go back yet but I’ve got my diploma in agriculture.”
Happy Hens Pastured Eggs sell for between $6.50 to $8 with three different sizes available.