Imagine a landscape filled with lush, green hills. A shaggy, white Maremma sheepdog dozes in the sunshine, surrounded by a few hundred fluffy, brown hens. Nearby sits their house, offering shade, shelter and a safe place to lay eggs.
In the Daylesford Macedon region we’re lucky that we don’t have to dream up such idyllic origin stories for the eggs we love to eat, because this picture is real. Spread out around the district are several egg farms housing small flocks of hens that arguably have the best lives of any hens in the world.
Our hens are free to spend their waking hours roaming these impossibly lush fields eating grass, foraging for bugs and worms, dust bathing and enjoying life. They are given fresh water to drink and access to grain-based feed when they are hungry.
When you visit a flock of these happy hens you might be surprised to discover that the only smell is that of the fresh country air and the only sound that of a hen that’s just laid an egg. With living conditions like these, no wonder our eggs taste so delicious.
And behind every happy hen is a farming family dedicated to making sure that the eggs they gather every day are nutritious and delicious. They’re the ones waking up at the crack of dawn to move the portable chook houses around their farms to ensure the hens have fresh pasture.
They’re the ones making sure their fences are tight and their Maremmas are looked after for the chooks’ protection from foxes and other predators. They’re the ones who keep their animals’ welfare at the top of their priority list. And they’re the ones collecting the eggs, packing them into cartons and delivering them to a farmers market, café, shop or farm gate stall all around the district.
Like all fresh produce, eggs are seasonal, and springtime is when they are at their most bountiful and most delicious. So while you’re travelling around our beautiful area this season, why don’t you choose the eggs on the menu, or buy a carton or two to take home?
We’ve put together a short list of some of our favourite local egg producers, but we’re sure you’ll discover others to add to it along your way.