Farming is in Oliver Warner’s blood. His family have been making a livelihood from the land for five generations. Like most in the agriculture business, Warner knows you need to adapt to survive, and sustainability has become an important part of the dynamics at his family farm.
“From fine wool merino sheep to Hereford cattle to free range egg production, the generations have always adapted to the environmental and market challenges and conditions of the day,” Warner tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB).
The most recent challenge has seen Warner and his family come up with a side business, Caravan Eggs, that not only allows the farm to adopt more sustainable practices, it has proved a windfall to boot. Warner and his family operate Caravan Eggs out of movable custom-built roosting sheds, which allow the free roaming chickens to fertilise the pasture whilst they brood. Starting with a few hundred chickens, Warner now has thousands of hens who produce 10s of 1000s of eggs for satisfied customers.
“Caravan eggs was a business idea generated from the skills and knowledge of the whole family,” Warner tells KBB. “All six family members had a large input into the business and up until that point had been focusing themselves on many different areas and industries. We were looking for a business that could involve all family members and provide another income stream as well as build and improve the land that we farm in a sustainable and productive manner.”
[image] The Caravan Eggs family.
Warner says when egg farming was raised as an idea, the option to deliver a cruelty-free product was a no-brainer.
“Free range is the most ethical and humane way in which to farm animals and always produces the highest quality product as an end result,” Warner says. “While sustainability is the way forward as a society. Sustainability has also been a huge focus of the business with two key sustainable aspects being environmental and operational. Therefore for ‘Caravan Eggs’ it was an easy decision to take this direction.”
Warner says the chickens have a largely positive impact on the pastures on which they have grazed.
“Increased pasture growth rates and increased pasture qualities have been observed thus far. Looking to the future, we are excited to be harvesting our first crop rotation from land that has been grazed by the chickens in this coming summer.”
Starting with just one ‘caravan’, the farm now operates several of these mobile chook homes and Warner says the sustainable nature of the setup has improved efficiency.
“Many years of research pointed us toward the caravans that we use, due to the focus we place on the welfare of the hens.”
“The sustainability aspect of the caravans is also very important with the feature of being powered by solar power and catching rainwater from the roof to help water the hens. With every new caravan we purchase, changes are being implemented to improve the efficiency, practicality and safety.”
Since appearing on season 10 of Kochie’s Business Builders in 2016, Warner says Caravan Eggs has continued to grow.
“As with any business, we have had our challenges, with knowing when to expand, people management, understanding consumer demands and cycles. We have found that we have been able to overcome these challenges with our willingness to constantly learn and adapt,” he says.
Demand for their ethically produced eggs has seen the family business grow to become a trusted brand and Warner says social media has played an integral part in building the conversation with consumers.
“A strong focus from the beginning for Caravan Eggs has been brand recognition and it has paid off. It’s one thing to produce a product but being able to sell it in an ever-growing competitive market remains the challenge and requires a product to stand out. Social media has been the main avenue which caravan eggs have used to engage with its customers. This has allowed the business to be transparent with its customers and make them feel a part of the story.
“It’s also allowed us to establish a greater understanding of the customers’ wants and needs,” he adds.
We can’t wait for you to join Kochie and friends as we go back on air. So, tune in for series 11 of Kochie’s Business Builders TV this Sunday’s 12pm on Channel 7 for all the best in small business news, tips and work hacks to help you boost your business.
Watch Caravan Eggs on Kochie’s Business Builders