Preston Poultry Farm

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Arthur and his brother, Charles Sandland moved into Preston around 1911 and very soon established themselves in the area building family homes at 38 and 40 Cooper Street and buying an initial 4 acres of land there to set up a new venture. They started off by building up a stock of White Leghorns, a breed of poultry, and then decided to establish a large plant on commercial lines.

They were so successful that only a couple of years later, 18,000 chickens had been hatched on the farm in one season. Many of these were sold interstate as well as within Victoria.   The brothers found it hard to keep up with demand and so expanded their operations.

A news article from 1915 describes the incubator house on the farm as a ‘great lofty building with capacity for 5000 eggs’ and being ‘well lit and ventilated’. ‘The chickens are taken from the incubators to outdoor brooders and quite a field of the latter meet the eye’.

 Apparently the brothers experimented with the design of the ‘brooders’ (housing) and came up with the idea of an adjustable cover which was not only ‘a labour saving invention but it permits of the brooders being protected in all sorts of weather and can be so adjusted that the sun’s rays play on the fluffy little birds…under this system the chickens grow and thrive under the most healthy and invigorating surroundings’.

 In addition to the hatcheries were the breeding pens where hundreds of hens were kept to produce eggs for hatching. There were 11 rows of buildings and numerous pullets and cockerels all ready for a breeding service, with the pullets producing eggs and bred for their meat.

Fresh water was always available at the site and Lucerne, maize and other green leaves were grown on the farm to feed the flocks. Wheat, oats and bran were stored in large silos.

The Sandland brothers were at the forefront of poultry management and farming, suggesting standardised egg prices and a centralised auction system as happened overseas.

At Premier Poultry the eggs for sale were graded and boxed to a high standard so the eggs arrived on the market ‘in the highest of style’ but the brothers were conscious that some other farmers sold their eggs in ‘just any old box’.

Like other breeders, they produce many more eggs in summer, but refused to sell eggs at a very low price during a glut. Instead they introduced cold storage facilities and stored the eggs until they could fetch a price that reflected the true cost of production.

An advertisement in the Weekly Times describes the poultry farm as ‘the largest in Victoria’ and boasts that ‘there is nothing like them anywhere’ when listing the chickens, pullets and cockerels they have for sale.

News articles in 1930 report that Arthur Sandland was fined the sum of £10 after an Inspector from Preston Council noticed that the ‘earthen drains were choked with offensive matter and dirty water was held. There were bits of rabbits about the yard, and in a shed there were rabbit’s heads, vegetables, decaying bags and swarms of flies’.

 The defendant was informed that due to the farm’s excellent record and the announcement that he was transferring the business, a heavier penalty had been avoided.   Mr Sandland stated in his defence that ‘every day we feed 15,000 fowl and obtain 9,000 eggs. Had I known that flies would count against me I could easily have used a little phenyle. The drains are a long way from the residences and could not constitute a nuisance to them. We have been in business for 20 years and this is the first complaint we have had. Already we have made arrangements to erect 2000 houses in the Whittlesea shire and to transfer our business’.

With residential development increasing in the area it is understandable that the farm would need to consider a new location.

Premier Poultry Farm: Messrs Sandilands Bros of Preston, a Mammoth Hatchery. Leader (Melbourne, Vic: 1862 - 1918, 1935), Saturday 8 May 1915, page 13
A Mammoth Hatchery (continued). Leader (Melbourne, Vic: 1862 - 1918, 1935), Saturday 15 May 1915, page 13
Advertisement. Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic: 1869 - 1954), Saturday 17 July 1920, page 14
Fowl Yard nuisance: Defendant fined £10 at Preston. Age (Melbourne, Vic: 1854 - 1954), Saturday 3 May 1930, page 23
Poultry Farmer did not think that flies would count against him. Herald (Melbourne, Vic: 1861 - 1954), Thursday 1 May 1930, page 2
MMBW map No. 2394, Municipality of Preston. Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works. [1920-30?]
Accessed from State Library of Victoria website. 
Sands & McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory 1864-1974. Melbourne Australia. Sands & McDougall.