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A $2 million expansion at the largest free-range poultry farm in New Zealand will house another 16,000 hens on the property at Glenpark, near Palmerston.
The 77ha site already has 48,000 Shaver hens, Mainland Poultry general manager for sales and marketing Hamish Sutherland said.
When the free-range poultry farm opened in 2002, expansion was promised as the free-range market grew.
The free-range eggs now have about a quarter of the egg market despite the considerable price difference between them and eggs from caged hens.
Marketing surveys suggested people with greater disposable incomes and younger people tended to favour free-range eggs.
People with families and smaller incomes tended to buy eggs from caged hens, Mr Sutherland said.
The free-range hens could move freely between the laying sheds and the outside area.
By Bill Campbell.
The outside area is grass with gravel near the shed entrances to allow hens to clean their feet.
A new laying shed extension was being built to house the additional hens.
Ten full-time equivalent staff were employed at the farm.
Future sheds would allow economies of scale with grading and the wheat mills required.
About 1000 dozen free-range eggs a week were exported to Hong Kong and Mainland was planning to develop other export markets, Mr Sutherland said.