Consumer-driven demand for free-range eggs has Rasmusen's Poultry Farm set to boost its foraging hen population. Two of the five chicken coops currently being used at the farm (about a third of the Rasmusen's 35,000 hens) are for free-range hens. that would be more like 50 per cent once two sheds on the property were converted into free-range pens, owner Aaron Rasmusen said. "We'll go where the market goes," he said. the process of refurbishing the first shed began a month ago, and it would be another five months before it was ready to house 5000 free-range hens, adding the other converted shed would also house a flock of 5000. it is a case of "back to the future". when Mr Rasmusen's grandfather first established the business in the 1950s, free-range hens were the norm, but by the time his father took over, battery cages were preferred because they controlled disease. the reversion to free-range poultry in the 1980s coincided with the introduction of vaccines which were able to do a similar job in preventing disease spreading among the hens, Mr Rasmusen said. but inevitably, access to farmland led to the occasional disease being introduced, making farming free-range hens more expensive and labour-intensive. They also ate more, and that was all reflected in the market price, he said. At Rasmusen's Poultry Farm, free-range hens have access to a paddock during the day, but they are secured in their pen overnight, safe from predators. the sheds are surrounded by three paddocks, and the hens have alternate access to each one.