Anaerobic digestion on the menu at Moana Farm

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Steggles chicken farmer and Nuffield scholar Guy Hebblewhite dreams of implementing anaerobic digestion systems to cut energy costs across the whole industry.

Anaerobic digestion on the menu at Moana Farm
Guy Hebblewhite is using his Nuffield scholarship to investigate ways manure from Moana might be turned into renewable energy and fertiliser.

An automated spray bath greets the car as we cross the threshold of Moana Farm, a Steggles chicken facility near Somerton 40 kilometres west of Tamworth in NSW.

The state of the art farm is strictly quarantined, with processes to ensure visitors or any other unexpected movements can be traced back to a specific day.

Also, as a journalist with photographer in tow, I am not actually allowed into any of the eight high-tech sheds which house some 56,000 chooks currently in the last week of their 56 day lifecycle.

At the end of the batch a total of 1.1 million kilos of live chicken leaves the farm, which equates to about 780,000 drumsticks.

That’s a lot of chooks and a lot of feed. The Steggles brand, quite recently purchased by the family-owned Baiada business, owns the birds and provides the 2,100 tonnes of feed they require per cycle.

Amiable and lively, Moana Farm owner Guy Hebblewhite hopes to one day incorporate advances in the area of probiotics, or multivitamins for chooks, which promote good gut micro flora.

In addition, as the cost of electricity and gas has skyrocketed 40 per cent just in the five years he has been at Moana Farm, Hebblewhite started thinking more about ways farmers like himself might reduce their costs

At the age of 40 he decided to bite the bullet apply for a scholarship to help him investigate the concept of anaerobic digestion as an option for use in Australia as a form of renewable energy.

"Something has to happen because electricity prices are not going to come down and that will significantly hamper the viability of this kind of operation in the next 10 years," Hebblewhite says.

"We need to start thinking about alternatives now."


Read the full story about what Guy Hebblewhite is doing at Moana Farm in the June issue of NewFarmMachinery Magazine, on sale June16 

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