our 85 year story

From very humble beginnings in 1938, Hazeldenes has evolved from a family business with just 200 chickens to an industry leader producing hundreds of thousands of chickens every week.

hatching a family business

For more than eight decades the entrepreneurial Hazeldene family from near Bendigo was in the poultry business.

From very humble beginnings in 1938, Jack Hazeldene started the business with just 200 chickens, using hand-built machinery and shedding to process them.

During the Second World War, Jack went on to serve as a Flight Sergeant with the Royal Australian Air Force, leaving his 10-year-old brother Dick to look after the business.

Sadly, Jack made the ultimate sacrifice for his country on 7 October 1943. So at just 13, Dick left school to take care of his brother’s chicken farm.

The business grew slowly and after time, Dick married the lovely Mavis and they went on to have three children – John, Vicki and Peter – with all family members playing a part in the business.

Vicki recalls her childhood memories on the farm.
“As we grew up, we had our own jobs,” she says. “It was always, ‘rush home from school to get your job done and then you can go out play with your mates’. That actually created a bit of a work ethic which we have tried to pass on to the next generation.”

While Vicki was helping her mother to pack eggs, John and Peter were collecting eggs and catching chickens. They all had to water and feed the chickens, as well as clean out the sheds. As the business grew bigger, it expanded beyond just producing eggs and ventured into producing chicken meat as well.

In 2015, Avian Influenza (bird flu) made its way to Australia and hit the business hard, with the Department of Agriculture closing the farm and destroying all the stock. The family was absolutely devastated.

Forced to sell their egg quota, Dick vowed to rebuild and invested in new facilities to raise chickens and produce poultry meat. With the business back on the track, it went on to produce hundreds of thousands of chickens a week.

The family continued to invest in upgrading their farms and in the latest technologies for increased processing capacity. They also invested in more outside talent to support Hazeldenes’ growth beyond ‘a family business’.

Dick Hazeldene, who turned the initial flock of 200 fowls into a multi million dollar business enterprise, finally retired at 75 after more than 60 years of incredibly hard work and the next generation took over the reins.

Until its sale in 2021, John Hazeldene ran Hazeldenes alongside a senior management team that included the third generation members of the Hazeldene family as well as several non-family executives.

A new era

In 2021, the Hazeldene family partnered with BGH Capital, a leading Australian and New Zealand private equity firm, who are working with the management team to realise the next stage of the Hazeldene family’s dream.

The future is very exciting as we plan expansions across both our processing capacity and farming practices so we can continue delivering the best products possible and feeding Australian families with premium quality Australian chicken.