In 2015 Alwyn and Margaux Kleinhans looked at each other and finally decided: “It is now or never.”
Alwyn missed the farm life he experienced as a child while visiting his uncle. Margaux, an animal lover, longed for a big yard where she could pamper and care for a range of animals. Their children were still young, and they had the tenacity to take on the big move from Durban to the east of Pretoria.
Kleinhans Free Range is a local supplier of fresh farm poultry direct to the public. They fill the consumers’ need for a reliable producer of affordable free range poultry products.
Pork has also been added recently and beef will be added in 2024.
“Alwyn did his homework,” says Margaux. “He researched what type of farming would be the fastest to set up. It was poultry.”
“We knew absolutely nothing,” she says laughing. “But we placed it in God’s hands!”
Margaux says they prayed for confirmation a lot once they made the decision to move. “We came across a company that provides you with feed and chicks to raise on their behalf. They then take the grown chickens to sell and you get the next batch.”
Alwyn saw this as a perfect opportunity. “The only downside was they required you to live close to Pretoria. For that reason we started looking for farms in the area,” he says.
The new start and it’s challenges
There was practically nothing on the farm. “The previous owners only lived on the farm,” Alwyn explains. “The neighbours’ cattle grazed here but it was bare. There were rocks everywhere.”
They also faced other challenges: A water shortage, chicken coops needed to be erected and the company for whom they would raise the chicks closed down.
Despite these setbacks everything still fell into place. “We decided to sell live chickens and slaughter the rest,” Alwyn remembers.
“With the first approximately 600 chickens we sold 30 alive and we had to make a plan with the rest. We slaughtered them and started filling freezers.”
Initially their client base consisted of friends and old colleagues from Durban.
Times were tough for the Kleinhans family, and later on Alwyn had to again start working for a company he was involved with previously to help with the farm’s expenses.
Free range another twist in their journey
“At first we did not produce free range chickens,” mentions Margaux. “That only came later after people started asking about the chickens feeding regime and other treatments they received.”
Free range means animals are not handled in a commercial manner. The animals, poultry or cattle, are not kept in small cages and fed fat with specialised feed rations, vitamins, and growth hormones. They are allowed to move around freely between the field or the camps and a safe shelter against the rain and sun. You can also be sure that the feed provided to the animals contain all natural ingredients. When an animal does get sick it is separated from the rest and its immune system is first given a chance to let the chicken heal itself.
At Kleinhans Free Range Alwyn pellets the feed provided to the animals himself. Grains like maize is mixed in, but also natural supplements to strengthen their immune systems.
Know what you eat
The recent increase in demand that the Kleinhans family are experiencing can be attributed to their clients’ need to know what they are putting on their plates – you are what you eat.
“People are paying more attention to what they eat and those who have already made the change can see the health benefits,” says Margaux. She also explains that the price of free range chickens is not only determined by the fact that it takes longer for them to reach their slaughter weight.
“You buy health. With free range meat, be it poultry, lamb, or pork you can be assured there are no substances in the meat that will make you sick when you eat it.”
Ask your butcher these questions when you are promised free range meat:
- Does the meat come from local producers?
- What has the animal been fed? Was it organic feed or was it combined with unnatural additives?
- Was the animal free range or not (like in a chicken coop or feedlot)?
- What practices are ensured on the farm to ensure the meat has free range status?