A $50million egg production poultry farm is under construction near Nathalia.
The Farm Pride facility has already started producing eggs from the first completed shed, while construction workers are busy building two more 130m-long sheds, fitted out with automated machinery imported from Europe.
Depending on the market opportunities, a fourth shed could be built on the 240ha site, taking the total number of birds to more than 100000.
Farm Pride is a publicly-listed company with operations in three states and an annual turnover of about $97million.
The company produces about nine million eggs a week.
Chief executive officer Bruce De Lacy said it had taken some time to find the right property for the company’s expansion, but the Nathalia site filled the bill for water supply, infrastructure, power supply, proximity to feed inputs and biosecurity.
The site has an electric boundary fence to protect against fox incursion and management implements strict biosecurity controls to prevent the spread of disease.
Three of the four sheds in the first phase will house free-range hens, with a density limited to 1500 per hectare.
Mr De Lacy said free-range egg sales now accounted for 40 per cent of grocery store purchases, which was about double that of a decade ago.
The Victorian Government has promised $324000 to upgrade and widen Mordens Rd and improve the nearby Katunga-Picola Rd intersection.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford visited the farm, which is already producing eggs from a barn-style shed, on Wednesday last week to announce the road funding through Moira Shire Council.
‘‘It will make it quicker, safer and more efficient for Farm Pride to get their eggs to market and boost the quality of product for consumers by reducing the number of eggs damaged in transit,’’ Ms Pulford said.
Mr De Lacy said the road upgrade would improve safety and manoeuvrability for trucks leaving the site and for B-doubles delivering grain and feed.
Moira Shire Council will contribute $95000 and Mayor Libro Mustica welcomed the grant for the road upgrade.