An egg-cellent endevour

Daily Fresh Eggs general manager Karen Li has big plans for the business. 280746_06

By Jamie Salter


With determination and an eagerness to learn, Daily Fresh Eggs general manager Karen Li is one of Lang Lang’s biggest egg producers, as JAMIE SALTER reports.


“I had no farming knowledge and I was just a young girl when I started the business – it was scary and there were too many things to face. I want to thank a lot of my local farmers, I’ve got good friends in the industry teaching me and helping me.“

Karen Li never thought she would be running a 110 acre egg farm with 100,000 chickens.

Born in Shanghai, China, Karen moved to the United Kingdom at 22 years old to complete her Masters of Law at the University of Glasgow.

Just before finishing her qualification, Karen’s uncle was looking for agricultural investments in Australia and requested she move with him to assist with his business ventures.

“It was partly because of my overseas living experience and at that time I was the only child who could speak English,” Karen said.

In 2006, Karen moved to Melbourne and begun studying a Master of Accounting at RMIT.

Karen’s uncle purchased the Lang Lang egg farm and Karen began to work as the accountant for the business.

“There was a lot to learn,” she said.

“Initially there were a lot of shareholders in the business, so everyone got their turn to run the farm in their own way.

“I was only the accountant until they backed off and eventually I had to run the farm myself.”

The chickens on the farm are bought at 16 weeks old when they’re ready to lay eggs.

The eggs are then washed, packed and delivered to customers including local supermarkets and restaurants.

“The focus is really on serving the customer – we pack to order in the grading room and prepare for delivery,” Karen said.

About 13 staff members are employed on the farm, each working as part of a well-oiled machine.

“To pack the eggs I need eight people, I’ve got part-time employees as well as a farm manager and just one guy taking care of the manure,” Karen said.

The Lang Lang farm is also home to about 65 cows which help to graze the land and prevent weeds from taking over the property.

When the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, the business took a hit.

“Airlines and restaurants stopped and there was no hotel business, so there was a massive oversupply in the market while on the other hand the price of feed stayed high,” Karen said.

Daily Fresh Eggs needs more than 50 tonnes of feed per week and with the current war between Russia and Ukraine, the cost of feed continues to rise.

Acquiring and holding on to reliable labour has also been a challenge for the business since the start of the pandemic.

“We are in a rural area and farming is hard labour and it’s extremely difficult to find the right person,” Karen said.

Rather than seasonal workers, Karen looks for workers all year around and often spends hours interviewing up to 30 people to find the right fit for the job.

“We need support from the government to help us get staff post-Covid,” she said.

“I don’t know of any farmers who aren’t short of labour and I want to hear that they’ve got more support coming for us.

“Continuously advertising for staff is quite difficult and makes the working environment unstable.”

But since Covid-19 restrictions eased, things have begun to improve for the business.

“My sales are boosting and some of the restaurants are busier than they were before Covid-19,” Karen said.

One of the biggest changes to the business was thanks to a $29,250 grant through the Victorian Government’s Agriculture Energy Investment Plan (AEIP).

The grant went towards upgrading the farms refrigeration system which will generate up to $6,169 in on-farm energy savings per annum.

Karen said the upgrade would allow the cool room to maintain its temperature during summer months.

“My assistant was looking around for ways to cover our losses during Covid-19 and this is a great benefit,” she said.

“The original refrigeration system was installed a long time ago and the gas it used was not environmentally friendly.

“It cost me thousands and thousands of dollars to refill it each year.”

The new system was installed last summer – one of the most peaceful seasons Kelly has experienced since she started working on the farm.

“The energy program really saved my life because at the time I was losing money and I was really struggling,” Kelly said.

“It guarantees my egg quality because temperature is critical for eggs especially in summer – it needs to be under 14 degrees.

“I’ve noticed a dramatic difference since using this system.”

Another way Karen has saved on costs is through solar panels.

Since installing the panels in August, Kelly’s bills have gone down by $2,000 a month.

Kelly has spent her adult life working in Australia and officially became an Australian Citizen in 2013.

She said Australians have a generous and friendly nature which has helped her along her way.

“I had no farming knowledge and I was just a young girl when I started the business – it was scary and there were too many things to face,” she said.

“I want to thank a lot of my local farmers, I’ve got good friends in the industry teaching me and helping me.

“The local people help me tremendously and never ask for anything back.”

Although the business goes up and down depending on the market, the outlook is looking up with demand for eggs at a high.

Daily Fresh Eggs is now in the process of developing its free range egg production.

“I’ve started working on going to go free range because the farm is big enough to do so,“ Karen said.