Shed construction at the Kiwi Free Range poultry farm has finished and the farm is running at full capacity, supplying hundreds of thousands of free-range chickens to poultry giant Tegel New Zealand.

The eight-shed development near Chertsey, on the outskirts of Ashburton, has been a project years in the planning.

The company took over the 112ha property (a merger of two neighbouring properties) in mid-2017 and by the end of the year had started earth works.

Following completion of the sheds, Kiwi Free Range director Blair Robinson said the last of the free-range areas had been grassed and would be planted with trees in coming weeks.

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Just 10ha of the property was used for the poultry farm which consisted of eight sheds which measured 138m x 20m (2760sqm2) and housed 40,000 free-range meat-breed chickens each.

They were raised from chicks and were fully developed at 42 days.

The rest of the property was grassed for a cut and carry silage operation.

Mr Robinson said with up to 30 construction workers on site during setup, the work was ''completed on schedule'' and, mostly, to plan.

''It has gone relatively smoothly apart from digging through the irrigation mainline on a few occasions.''

He said future ground work included more shelter planting and other irrigation options.

''We are planning on doing some more plantings on the farm to provide shelter, in addition to the plantings in the free range areas to provide shade for the birds and are considering further upgrade of the irrigation on the pastoral part of the
farm.''

He said the farm was performing ''very well and was a credit to farm manager Len Wilson and his team''.

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''They have put in a huge effort to not only run the farm to high standard but also a mountain of extra work with pasture establishment, shifting irrigators, planting trees, etc.''

Mr Wilson relocated, with his family from Pukekohe, Auckland in April last year.
Four people were employed at the property but Mr Robinson said they were looking for a part-time casual team member to complete staff levels.

Central Rural Life