One for the 'big' birds: all 6000 of them

The good oil available at Kerang

Property
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For the agribusiness investor who is looking for something different, a current listing by Colliers International in Victoria's Mallee region might warrant a closer look.

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For the agribusiness investor who is looking for something different, a current listing by Colliers International in Victoria's Mallee region might warrant a closer look.

On offer is Longview Emu Farm near Kerang (VIC), one of Australia's largest emu farms and the main supplier to the lucrative emu oil industry.

Emu oil is prized for its medicinal and health-giving properties, some of which are still being discovered, but already it is used in a range of pharmaceutical preparations.

Longview Emu Farm is a 221 hectare (547ac) irrigation farm located at Tragowel, 15 kilometres south of Kerang, where it has been developed to a high pitch by its owner of 25 years, Jeff Long.

Mr Long is now ready to retire - he has built a house on land he owns across the road - and the property and business have been listed for sale with Colliers by expressions of interest closing on July 26.

The package is for sale on a walk-in, walk-out basis including all plant and equipment and its livestock component of some 6000 birds plus the 3000 expected to hatch in the next four months.

Up to 9000 birds can be raised at one time on the property, where rotational grazing is used to run the birds through 24 paddock cells of improved pasture, including 110ha of developed irrigation.

Annual turnoff has typically been about 2000 birds, but this is expected to rise to 2700 next year, and 2900 in 2021.

Birds selected for breeding typically produce 30-35 eggs a year, the eggs hatching 49 days later whereupon the chicks are confined to a heat shed for their first four weeks before being moved into an 'igloo' barn where they remain, with controlled access to pasture, for 140 days after which they are turned out to graze.

Birds are grown to about 2.5 years of age, at which time they are sent for processing. Each bird typically yields 10-12 kilograms of fat, which is then rendered to oil at a conversion rate of around 80-90 per cent.

Under present arrangements, birds are sent for processing to Wycheproof or Myrtleford, with the fat being then rendered to oil at another plant near Castlemaine.

The farm has the option of either selling the fat, after the processing stage, or retaining ownership until it is rendered into oil. Either way, the product is said to command a strong and growing demand.

Water for irrigation is supplied by gravity from the Goulburn Murray Water system, although the farm is being offered for sale with stock and domestic entitlements only.

Structural improvements include a three-bedroom manager's residence and extensive farming infrastructure (much of it consisting of converted shipping containers) including incubator and egg storage sheds, chicken heat shed and the 'igloo' barn.

Also included in the sale is farming and transport equipment including the semi-trailer used for the owner's (and other farms', as a second income stream) bird transport.

Comparable irrigation land in the area has been selling for $2000-$3000 a hectare, but the business as a whole is unlike anything previously sold.

By PETER AUSTIN.

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