A YOUNG farming family on the Hinchinbrook has won a state-wide award for their delicious chicken products.
Dan and Leanne Cordner, of Bellasato Farm, were awarded a delicious.Produce prize for their Sommerlad chickens, which they breed and process on their Ingham farm.
The Cordners are first time farmers who gave up well-paying jobs as a FIFO mine worker and microbiologist to buy their 140 acre property at Macnade in December 2015.
They maintained the original cane crop, and expanded into chicken farming, building an abattoir to produce and process free-range Sommerlad poultry.
And just over two years after the bold move, their hard-work is paying off being recognised with the award.
Mr Cordner said they were both surprise and honoured to win the award.
“We were against everything from the paddock, so eggs, beef, veal, kangaroo, basically anything that got nominated in the State and we got through,” Mr Cordner said.
“We’re very surprised. We only got the abattoir approved in September so it’s a very new set up.
“We were pretty stoked to get the nomination to begin with, we didn’t really expect to get any further.
“We knew the product was good but to get that pat on the back is really nice.”
The couple started breeding their own Sommerlad chickens in December and currently have 150 breeders and 300 growers.
Mr Cordner said they were one of only five farms in Australia to breed Sommerlad birds, and the move to breeding had presented its own set of challenges.
“The breeding side of the birds… it’s not quite that simple, it’s nearly another full time job,” he said.
“We have to maintain weight targets of birds based on age, so to get the best fertility from the hens and roosters you’ve got to keep them in a healthy weight range.
“There’s a lot more monitoring.”
Their farm was impacted by flooding in the region in February and March, with paddocks inundated twice in three weeks.
The breeding hens were unsettled in the wet, having relocated to the tropics from Tenterfield in NSW.
“I was pretty certain we were gong to lose quite a few birds, but we didn’t lose one,” Mr Cordner said.
“The hens were off the lay, they are only staring again now.”
The couple hope to open their farm up to the general public for tours later in the year, and are reviewing biosecurity risks now they have the pedigree breeding stock on board.
In the meantime, their chicken will again be judged by the delicious team, with the national winners announced on August 13.