What is pasture-raising?
Our story really begins with healthy, green, organic pastures. This is where our hens live everyday and spend all their time. Every few days our chickens are moved onto fresh patches of native grasses, which keeps them on delicious green stuff and ensures our pastures have ample time to recover. The hens help this along by leaving behind the best organic fertilizer on the planet! We think the health of our pasture is directly reflected in our happy hens and the quality of their delicious, highly nutritious eggs.
In addition to organic grasses, our hens eat a nutrient-dense Certified Organic feed mix that includes GMO-free corn, vitamins, and probiotics. Every morsel that our girls eat is 100% Certified Organic. That means no pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals are ever introduced to our chickens, their eggs, or our pasture. This ensures no harmful runoff in our streams, rivers, and oceans.
How are pasture-raised, organic eggs nutritionally different than other eggs?
More people are becoming aware of the benefits of eating meat and poultry that come from grass-fed animals. Cows, pigs and chickens were all meant to graze. Since we are what we eat, we are what these animals eat.
The grasses consumed by pastured birds contain many vitamins that simply aren't supplied by corn-based feed. As a result, the eggs these hens produce are superior in nutrient content. These nutrients are enhanced by the outdoor lifestyle our ladies enjoy, which is cleaner, less stressful, less competitive, and full of Vitamin D courtesy of the sun.
A study conducted by Mother Earth News in 2007 compiled the nutrition contents of pasture-raised eggs from farms across the country. In comparison to a conventional egg, pasture raised eggs contain:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more Vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more Vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
An update to this study in 2008 demonstrated that Vitamin D translates from the sun to the hens to the eggs. Pastured eggs were shown to have 4 to 6 times more Vitamin D than conventional eggs.
Other tests have also shown that pasturing yields higher levels of folic acid. In fact, tests on our eggs even showed the presence of Vitamin C, which is a first for eggs! We can't explain this, but it likely has something to do with the birds' varied diet from a multitude of native grasses.
How do pasture-raised eggs taste?
The difference of pasture-raising is very apparent in the look, taste, and even in the way an egg cooks. The inside of the egg is most telling, as the yolks are typically darker and richer in color, though this can vary with the diet and "lifestyle" of each individual bird. The grasses they eat are high in beta carotene and other vitamins, impacting egg flavor. Also, you should notice that the egg white is much thicker, and our raw eggs are much more composed when broken into the pan.
What do you feed your hens?
In addition to grass and other pasture goodies, our hens get a feed ration made up mainly of organic corn and a small amount of unprocessed organic soybean meal. It's the only way that we can insure that they get enough of the essential amino acid, lysine in their diet, without which, they simply won't lay eggs. There are no GMO's or any other non-organic ingredients in our birds' feed. In speaking with a number of customers over the years with soy allergies, we've been told repeatedly that they've had no adverse reactions from eating our eggs.
There are some soy-free eggs on the market, but they often use animal products such as blood or bone meal (mainly from chicken) or fish meal, a non-sustainable source of protein. We won't feed our girls feed that contain either. We are in the process of seeking a grain alternative to soy from non-traditional sources and hope to have news to you when we are happy with the results.
The main ingredient in our girls diet however, remains what they forage in the pasture which, along with all feed is 100% certified organic.
Do you clip your bird's beaks?
We do not now, nor have we ever, trimmed or cut beaks, (this would be against our personal beliefs, as well as our humane animal treatment certification). We have, however, purchased and rescued birds that were de-beaked by a pullet farmer or as spent hens.