Blythe Calnan & Gregg Hooper - Runnymede Farm
Blythe and Gregg from Runnymede Farm in Uduc supply Dirty Clean Food with Pasture Raised Eggs from the happiest hens in WA!
With backgrounds in various areas of agriculture, animal husbandry and welfare consulting in the Pilbara region, Blythe and Gregg moved to the South West in 2014 inspired by stories of people regenerating environments.
They have both worked with cattle for much of their careers, and bought their first cattle themselves when they purchased Runnymede. They started their herd with cows from north Western Australia and have used genetics from the Pharo Cattle Company in Colorado USA to create a herd that thrives in the grass-fed regenerative environment.
They have also introduced pastured eggs to their farming operation, which adds a stacked enterprise to their business model, providing a second source of income from the farm, whilst also combining the benefits of multi species grazing to regenerate their pastures.
Blythe and Gregg are interested in holistic management and restoring their natural farming ecosystem. Holistic management moves the land towards a self-balancing and regenerating system. They practice holistic planned grazing of their animals and focusing on biological inputs and restoring the biological function of the soil - the cattle and chickens are managed in a way that actively sequesters carbon into the soil. Managing their grazing animals this way actually improves the land resource and reverses the damage that’s been done when the land was managed as a system relying on synthetic inputs and processes.
Blythe runs her laying hens in four mobile chicken vans over 200 acres, with 450 hens per van, where the hens are moved forward to fresh ground every 2 - 4 days depending on the impact they're having on the ground - on ground with more fragile soil or in a brittle dry environment they are moved quicker, with a less brittle environment and lusher grass they will stay longer. The less brittle the environment, the more ability for grass to recover, and the chooks can stay longer without doing damage. This is a ‘pastured egg’ farming system.
It is the time spent in the pasture area and the recovery of those plants before being grazed again that is important in a pastured system - this is referred to as pasture recovery. Blythe’s chooks are rotated over the 200 acres, and don't come back over the same area within 12 months, giving the pasture a very long recovery, and breaking the pathogen and parasite cycle by the chickens not having access to their manure - so it becomes 100% recycled through the mineral cycle in the soil, feeding healthy pasture and soil microbes.