Cavanagh’s Eggs from County Fermanagh are a true success story for husband and wife team John & Eileen Hall. In 2016 they won a Chef’s Larder award at the 2016 Blas na hEireann awards. You can find more on their website or find out more details on great producers from Fermanagh and across Ireland in our directory of Irish Food & Drinks award winners & finalists in 2016
When & why did you start your business?
John and I got married in September 2000 and we started out as beef and sheep farmers when we bought our farm in Co. Fermanagh the same year. The foot and mouth struck NI in February 2001, less than 6 months after we got married. We had a loan to pay off so we had to explore options for making our farm viable. We decided to start producing free range eggs for a local packer from 2002 to 2012. Caged was never an option for us because it is a really cruel production method and the hens can’t perform their natural behaviours like stretching, flapping their wings, perching up high, flying, foraging, scratching, dust-bathing and laying in a comfortable nest. We launched the Cavanagh Free Range Eggs brand in March 2012 to satisfy consumer demand for a quality artisan free range egg with provenance.
Who is your food inspiration?
Jamie Oliver has done a lot to promote higher welfare standards in the poultry industry and make the public aware of the different farming methods and making the right choices when sourcing their food. For him it’s all about respecting the animals that are bred for our food and it is important for them to be cared for and well treated. I would have similar views to Jamie, because for as long as people keep buying food from animals that are mistreated then they will continue to be mistreated.
What do you love about your job?
I love the hens roaming about and listening to them singing their happy song. I love the fact that I am able to stay at home and be with my husband and 2 boys. I love meeting people when I exhibit at shows and festivals and telling our story.
What is your typical day?
I don’t have a typical day. One day I could be in the office, the next day I could be attending a workshop, a business meeting, sampling in a supermarket to promote our eggs, meeting a customer, exhibiting at a show or even attending an awards ceremony!
What was your best day since you started this business?
Winning business and awards give me a real buzz! I couldn’t say one is better than the other, because they are all exciting!
Where do your ingredients come from?
Our feed comes from AW Ennis in Virginia, Co. Cavan and our birds come from farms across Northern Ireland.
Tell us about the people you work with
We are a team of 10 workers, including my husband John and I. Two of John’s brothers work for us. One of them also produces eggs for us on his own farm. We have 2 local ladies, 2 local lads and 2 Lithuanian men on our team too, so as you can see we are an equal opportunities employers! They all get on so well and they are really passionate about producing eggs to the highest possible standards and totally get what we are about. They are dedicated to their jobs.
What three words would you use to describe yourself/your business?
Award Winning Producer
What do you think is the key to success?
Honesty, openness, transparency, hard work, facing challenges head-on, always have a “can-do” attitude! Adaptable in this ever-changing world we live in….
Has there ever been one single moment which has changed how you look at your business?
I did my level 5 Leadership and Management Programme in Queens University through Invest NI and one of the things that sticks in my head from that programme is a quote I had heard from Thomas Edison “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realise how close they were to success when they gave up”, so that helps to keep me going through the tough times, because it hasn’t always been plain sailing and we do meet challenges constantly. Life is a roller-coaster, but we just need to take the rough with the smooth and enjoy the moments, because even the bad ones we are still learning something.