Sarah Sterns from Bendele Farm, Kilkivan.
Sarah Sterns from Bendele Farm, Kilkivan. Contributed

'Tis the season for poultry

SEEKING a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their children, Fred and Sarah Sterns left Mt Isa to take over Bendele Farm - Kilkivan's successful turkey, duck and organic chicken business.

In the lead-up to Christmas the wife, mother, teacher and businesswoman is busier than ever, as Bendele sells its poultry locally and all over Queensland, as well as to Sydney and Melbourne.

"There was a real swing to organic but that's dropped off a bit. I think that's because of the current economic climate," Sarah said.

"It's getting tough out there for people.

"Because of our niche market we ask a higher premium because our cost is higher.

"We cannot medicate our birds if they were to get sick so we've got to factor that into our cost.

"We still hand-process all our birds, from the pens to the abattoir, so there's no stress in travelling.

"Everyone says the birds are so tender."

Bendele employs one full-time girl who looks after the stock and seven casual employees in the abattoirs - three of whom also help out at the farmers' markets at Gympie, Noosa, Kawana and the Big Pineapple.

"The staff are fantastic. Everyone is very busy," Sarah said.

Bendele's Hinterland range of ducks and turkeys - which are free range - are brought up in the same way as the organic chickens, the only difference is the feed.

"We keep a limited supply and try to sell out of everything each week and not put anything in the freezer," Sarah said.

One of the products that sells out every week is livers for pate, which Sarah says is because the livers are "very clean" without chemicals or antibiotics.

"The sale of chicken livers has gone through the roof."

Sarah said television cooking shows have "crossed boundaries" and made people "more adventurous" when it comes to food.

So what's on the Christmas table at the Sterns' place this year?

"There is a butcher in Eumundi and he does turduckens (de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed into a de-boned turkey) so just for ease, we're having one of those and seafood."

You can purchase from Bendele Farm but Sarah said she would prefer for people to support their poultry from Shore's Meats Gympie, Geoff Buckley's Stewart Terrace Butchery, and the butcher in Kilkivan.

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