Finding love for squab farming
"WE USED to buy squabs from the abattoirs, never would we have ever thought about having a squab farm," Wendy Filer said.
In November last year, Evan and Wendy Filer decided they would give squab farming a shot.
"We thought let's give it a go and we went along to a meeting," Evan said.
Squab farmers from across the Callide and Dawson Valleys meet regularly for meetings, to talk and offer knowledge and advice.
"It's like a big family," Wendy said.
Evan and Wendy have owned an 80ha property outside Biloela for the past 12 years as a hobby farm.
"This is the first time we have actually put something on it as a business to bring in a income from our small patch of land " Evan said.
Before they started their squab operations, Evan and Wendy did some researching.
"We spent the first month just seeing lots of squab farms and seeing what they had, what could work for us and what might not," Evan said.
With some background information and knowledge now under their belts, Evan and Wendy started by building a 14-cage long aviary for the birds and planting trees.
"We're doing it in stages. We are going to put another 14 cages next to this one and then the third stage will have another 14," Evan said.
"And we planted some moringa trees for warmth and shade behind the cages.
"Any construction that has been done has been by the two of us."
It has now been a few months since they received their first flock of birds.
The cages now sustain 292 birds and they have bred about 30 squabs.
"We probably won't start selling them for another three months yet," Evan said.
"We're just in the building up stocks stage at the moment."
Like any new business venture, there are bound to be some ups and downs.
"We had a python come in and swallow a baby and we've caught two rats," Evan said.
"But we haven't had too much trouble yet," Wendy said.
There are some improvements and changes the couple are going to make including changing the feeding system and the feed itself.
At the moment the birds are eating corn and pellets with grit and vitamins and they have apple cider added to their water.
"We are going to change to mixed grain when we run out of pellets," Evan said.
"It's a learning curve," Wendy said.
Most of all, the couple has been enjoying the squab farming so far.
"It's good. I find it very relaxing listening to they're cooing sound," Wendy said.
"And they're very inquisitive, I will be in their cage cleaning their water and they will come over to see what I am doing and I can actually pat them.
"And we have been really lucky. We've had so many people helping us."
With plenty of squab farmers to turn to for advice, the couple would be lost without the local squab farmer group.
"We have made a friend who is a wealth of knowledge and we text her if we have any issues and she helps us out," Wendy said.
The couple aims to have 1000 pairs of breeding birds by Christmas.
Pythons or not, the Filers are in the squab farming game to stay.
"We're in it for the long game now," Evan said.
"And so far it's good and I don't see that changing as it is only going to get better as we streamline our processes more."