Eggs are my favorite item to sell, especially to someone new to eating pastured farm products. When you crack our egg open, you find a bright yellow to orange egg yolk that sits up high in the pan as compared to a pale yellow yolk and watery white found in supermarket eggs. They taste so good that some don’t even add salt to them. If you can see a difference, you know they are nutritionally superior. No longer do you have to worry about cholesterol when you eat good pastured eggs. The amount of Omega 3’s is naturally high in a pastured egg. The difference is due to the way we manage our hens. Though at first glance you may feel your organic supermarket egg is the same, lets look at labeling.
Cage free means that the hens were not raised in cages but were most likely in large laying houses. Usually debeaked, as the stress is high and will cause pecking problems. Free Range means they have access to the outdoors but they most likely never see anything green as a chicken is wonderful at scratching and a large group of them will turn a small area to dirt very quickly. Free range often means they just have access to a small outdoor porch. Organic simply refers to the chickens being fed organic grains. To truly know and to understand how your eggs or meat are raised you need to get to know your farmer. A label only goes so far in really portraying the management style. Pastured or grass fed is what you want.
Chickens are an omnivore so they have a varied diet requirement like we do to give them the best health. We make sure they get this varied diet by making sure they are able to move to clean pasture. They are also fed organic grains. It is the greens they eat that make that yolk nice and bright and the white firm. To make sure they have a constant supply of greens they have to be moved. We put them in portable structures so we can use the tractor to pull the whole structure to fresh ground. Yes, it is management intensive but it pays off in getting the best possible egg.
These are the eggs that we are currently running low on. We are blessed to have a set of customers with regular “egg subscriptions”. These customers order the same amount each month and we honor there orders before filling any others. We are currently running a waiting list for egg subscriptions. Because we want to offer the best egg possible, we like to raise our pullets or the young birds that will be our layers for the next two years. When we have purchased ready to lay hens we have always found that it takes a while to get the yolks to that bright orange color as they were not raised on the grass as we would have liked. It takes 5 months to get a pullet ready to lay so there is quite a bit of planning involved. On top of the 5 month wait for eggs we have to take into account that the most eggs are laid in the spring time. That is when we feel the egg flow, thus the tradition for Easter Eggs. Hens don’t like to lay as much when it is very cold or very hot. We try to set the number of subscriptions we sell to the lowest number of eggs we expect and then make eggs available to market buyers when we have additional eggs. Sometimes laying dips below what we have expected if it is extremely hot as it was for a week, or extremely cold like it was last winter. At those times we can just say sorry and wait for better weather. (I am usually not any happier than the hens who are not laying when we are running short.) I always appreciate your patience and understanding!
The good news is that we have 200 pullets growing quickly on beautiful pastures to come help provide the wonderful eggs our customers have come to expect. September should mark their first laying attempts and hopefully the end to our shortage. If you want to ensure your supply, contact Jessica about your egg subscription.