Sure as eggs: Josh lays path for a bright future

Sure as eggs: Josh lays path for a bright future

Smart Farmer News
FLYING HIGH: Josh Murray, 19, Josh's Rainbow Eggs, started his egg business at nine years old with 40 hens. His family now runs 10,000 hens.

FLYING HIGH: Josh Murray, 19, Josh's Rainbow Eggs, started his egg business at nine years old with 40 hens. His family now runs 10,000 hens.

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When Josh Murray was nine years old, he started selling eggs to neighbours and going from shop to shop with cloth bags of eggs. But today, he is the face of J...

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When Josh Murray was nine years old, he started selling eggs to neighbours and going from shop to shop with cloth bags of eggs.

But today, he is the face of Josh's Rainbow Eggs, running 10,000 hens and supplying Woolworths and Coles.

And he isn't stopping there - his business is in the process of developing exciting new egg products for his loyal customers.

The 19-year-old's journey with chooks began in 2009, and it came about because of one simple reason.

"When I was nine years old, I really wanted to start buying things," Josh said. "I really liked Lego."

"And Tamsyn, my mum, said 'if you want to buy them, maybe you could do all the work with the chooks and make money from the eggs'."

Josh's family had moved onto a 50-hectare farm in the Kerrie Valley in Victoria.

"We had a whole heap of animals - chickens, cats, dogs, cows, all the usual suspects," he said.

SHARING THE LOVE: Josh showing his chooks to shoppers.

SHARING THE LOVE: Josh showing his chooks to shoppers.

They had 40 chooks of a number of breeds, so Josh cared for them, selling the eggs to neighbours. Josh said when a friend opened a carton and saw the blue, green, brown and white eggs, they commented how they looked like a rainbow. And so Josh's Rainbow Eggs was born.

Josh started taking eggs into Gisborne, and began visiting stores, carrying cartons of eggs with glued-on labels in cloth bags as he walked down the streets.

"I was pretty clueless," he said. "I was pretty out of touch with how it worked, but somehow it worked out."

It was also around this time that Josh started taking his eggs to farmers' markets in the local area, and eventually into Melbourne.

But it was in 2011 that things changed. When Josh was 11, they were put in touch with the manager at the Riddells Creek Foodworks, and Josh's Rainbow Eggs hit the shelves.

"From there, it was just a springboard," Josh said.

In 2012, their business had grown to 1200 hens, and a number of employees had joined their business. And this was when they started supplying LaManna Direct, an independent supermarket in Essendon Fields.

It was only a couple of years later that Josh's Rainbow Eggs hit shelves in Coles and Woolworths, as well as Foodworks and IGA. Now he is supplying most supermarkets in the Macedon Ranges as well as a number of stores in Melbourne.

TIME FOR A SCRATCH: Josh Murray with one of the family's Maremma dogs, who guard the hens. Today their 10,000 hens are housed at night in eight mobile hen sheds.

TIME FOR A SCRATCH: Josh Murray with one of the family's Maremma dogs, who guard the hens. Today their 10,000 hens are housed at night in eight mobile hen sheds.

Josh's hens moved to a new 100-hectare property around five years ago, and had grown to 10,000 hens. The business employs 20 people, plus Josh's siblings.

But they are only just getting started. Josh and Tamsyn are in the process of developing new egg products, with the help of a $100,000 Food Innovation Australia grant, which they have matched.

"We are developing a high protein egg chip, and a healthy egg noodle," Josh said. "It is really important to diversify."

Hens egg-cited to dig, forage

Taking care of 10,000 hens is no mean feat.

But for Josh Murray and his family, from Josh's Rainbow Eggs, it comes down to their hens living the good life.

Their Hyline Brown hens are free range, and are allowed plenty of space to forage and dig.

They are housed in eight specially-built mobile hen sheds. The newest three sheds were custom designed and built in Melbourne.

The sheds, which are off-grid solar powered, are moved onto fresh pasture regularly and are rotated around the entire property.

CRACKING: Josh Murray when Josh's Rainbow Eggs hit shelves in Coles stores.

CRACKING: Josh Murray when Josh's Rainbow Eggs hit shelves in Coles stores.

The hens roost in the sheds at night, but during the day they can wander wherever they please. Seven beautiful Maremma dogs are the hens' constant companions to keep away any predators.

Josh said the hens get to forage on grass and insects, but they also are fed a multigrain mix and vitamins and supplements.

The nesting boxes run down the middle of the sheds, and they are sloped so the eggs roll away when they are laid and are carried on a conveyor belt. A large grading machine run by a team of four packs the eggs everyday.

Josh said a hen lays an egg every 26 hours, producing on average six eggs a week.

Hens are kept until they are 18 months old, and then are given away to backyarders wanting laying hens.

INSPIRING: Josh Murray visiting schools and talking about his egg business.

INSPIRING: Josh Murray visiting schools and talking about his egg business.

Spring chicken hatching big plans

At 19, Josh Murray's face beams from egg cartons in supermarkets and stores across Victoria.

But rather than being happy to remain the face of Josh's Rainbow Eggs, the teenager is still striving.

Josh has already begun a marketing degree at university, but this year he has taken some time away from study to become more involved with the business.

At the moment he is helping out with egg deliveries, visiting 20 to 30 stores each week.

Before COVID-19 hit, Josh was also speaking at schools about his success with the business, and encouraging other students.

Josh said after finishing his degree, he plans to pursue a masters degree in marketing.

Josh is excited about the future of the business, but he is most thankful for the support from his family.

He said his mum Tamsyn was the driving force behind the success of the business.

"She has helped out massively," he said.

"It just wouldn't be here without her."

ON THE MOVE: Josh Murray with the Josh's Rainbow Eggs van delivering eggs.

ON THE MOVE: Josh Murray with the Josh's Rainbow Eggs van delivering eggs.

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