Which came first – the chicken or the egg?
For Niall Delargy from ‘Out There Eggs’ in Glenballyeamon in The Glens of Antrim, the answer is definitely the chicken.
Twelve of them to be precise, which he purchased over 20 years ago at the infancy of his thriving free-range eggs business.
Two decades later, his flock has grown considerably and he now has 17,000 birds living on the family farm just outside Cushendall.
A welder by trade, Niall returned to the Glens after spending time in Australia. By his own admission, he was ‘mad to be farming’ and the hens along with some sheep marked the beginning of his agricultural career.
He’s probably glad he ignored anti-hen advice received at that time, as he now supplies his award-winning eggs to outlets all over Northern Ireland.
The latest chapter in the business is a recent re-branding which reflects the unique lifestyle of his flock, as Niall explains: “We went for ‘Out There Eggs’ because the hens are ‘out there’. They are free range and have the freedom to do what they want.”
In the world of hens, Niall’s birds live in one of the most scenic parts of the Causeway Coast and Glens in the shadow of Lurig Mountain. Thanks to a recent partnership with the Woodland Trust, they are able to roam among 700 newly-planted native trees which provides the perfect foraging space. ‘Roam, Range and Respect’ is the motto at Out There Eggs, and this is certainly reaping rewards.
There’s no off-season in the world of egg production, so it was business as normal over the Christmas and New Year period, with Niall’s hen typically producing 15,000 eggs every day. These are all processed and packaged on-site at the business base in Glenballyeamon where Niall recently opened a new high capacity SALSA approved packing plant as part of his ongoing investment. What started as a small scale enterprise in 1997 supplying eggs to the local community has certainly exceeded all expectations.
And judging by Niall’s well filled awards’ cabinet, his commitment to the highest standards and welfare of his birds is clearly paying off. Recent accolades include a prestigious Gold award from Blas na hEireann, Great Taste Awards in successive years along with Lion and RSPCA approval.
Niall is also part of Taste Causeway, a collective of food and drink producers, artisans, food tourism business and hospitality providers based in the Causeway Coast and Glens. Together, the group came second in a search for Ireland’s Best Foodie Destination earlier this year and the region continues to build on its reputation as being home to an unrivalled local produce offering. Its collaborative approach caught the eye of the judges from the Restaurants Associations of Ireland with producers like Niall working alongside food tourism providers and the hospitality sector to promote the region’s flourishing foodie story.
You can find out more about Out There Eggs by going to www.glenballyeamoneggs.com or on Facebook @glenballyeamoneggs.