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Poultry in motion: Tirau Chicken Farmer Goes Electric

When the first fully electric farm ute hit the New Zealand market last year, Tirau chicken farmer Jeff Collings was interested - and once he’d run the numbers, he was convinced.


“Recently, as the price of solar has dropped and the price of EVs has also dropped, it really has made it a no-brainer,” Jeff said.


He already owned two electric vehicles – a Tesla Model 3 for road trips, as well as a Nissan Leaf which he used around his mostly-flat farm, instead of a quadbike. 


Eager to park up his old diesel ute once and for all, Jeff jumped at the chance to buy a Chinese-made LVD EV T60 as soon as he could.


Seeing the savings his parents decided to purchase their first EV, a Kia Niro.



Jeff said the cost savings were immediate.


“We were burning through about $9000 worth of fuel a year, and that's dropped to absolutely zero with the EVs,” he said.


“It's not many years to pay back the cost of an EV at that rate.”


In an effort to decarbonise his 130,000-bird farm, Jeff had already installed dozens of solar panels on the roof of his chicken sheds.

“I like to think that all I'm doing is basically showing that it is possible. Not only that, but also that it's economically viable - it saves money - and it's just a better way to do things.”

Jeff Collings, Tirau chicken farmer



His 60-kilowatt system was already providing heating or cooling in the sheds during the day – but Jeff wanted to take his electrification efforts further.


“We have tried to decarbonise as many of the combustion engines as possible, and we’ve replaced petrol blowers with electric blowers, and got electric mowers - it's all working out really well.”


The farm was able to take out an ANZ Business Green Loan to buy the EV T60, something Jeff said had helped convince his business partners - his parents Trevor and Francie and wife Heather.


“The green loan’s special rate made it a sensible business decision,” he said.


“Add in the [clean car] rebate from the government and it just made good business sense - we found we could easily afford the next step."


With clear financial reasons for going electric, and an increasing number of EV options, Jeff says there’s no reason others in the poultry industry – or the wider farming community - can’t also consider making the change.


“I like to think that all I'm doing is basically showing that it is possible,” Jeff said.


“Not only that, but also that it's economically viable - it saves money - and it's just a better way to do things.”


His long-term plans include trying to further decarbonise the farm, ultimately having all the heating and cooling of the chicken sheds done via solar and heat pumps.


More investment will be required, but for Jeff, the ultimate goal is to try to make the farm, and his chicken rearing operation, as close to carbon zero as possible.


“If I had a little badge on my shoulder - the clean green carbon zero badge - I'd be more than happy with that - I'd wear it with pride,” he said.


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