Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the questions below to reveal the answer!

About Our Eggs
How is pasture-raising different from free-range?
Free-range is a term that Big Egg companies like to confuse you with. While in Europe, the term free-range has a legally binding definition (free access to outdoor areas covered with vegetation, about 43 sq.ft/bird), here in the US it doesn’t. Some producers may make sure their birds have a reasonable standard of living, but many use this term to make the customer feel better while providing their chickens will little meaningful access to the outside, and those areas that are outdoors may be nothing more than concrete yards. 

Pasture-raising on the other hand, when audited and certified by a 3rd party agency (we use Certified Humane) is as good as it sounds, with birds provided plenty of room to roam (at least 108sqft per bird). 

Are pasture-raised eggs better for you?
Yes, in every measurable way! The most comprehensive studies to date showed that in comparison to regular factory farmed eggs, pasture-raised eggs have less cholesterol, less saturated fat, more vitamins and omega 3s. In other words, more of the good stuff and less of the not-so-good stuff.
What health benefits do eggs have?
Eggs don’t just contain any old proteins – remember, everything inside that perfect little shell would be the building blocks for a new life if the egg was fertilized (which ours aren’t), so the protein and vitamin profile is perfectly balanced. Proteins like Choline (great for brain function) and Betaine (great for your heart), and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (which protect your eyes) are just some of the great nutrients in eggs. 
What’s a double yolk?
It’s like a 4 leaf clover, but tastier!
You sometimes get double yolks from young flocks that are just beginning to lay – two eggs may merge together in the hen’s oviduct, meaning she’ll lay one large egg with two yolks hidden inside.
Why are some eggs different sizes?
Young hens tend to lay smaller eggs, so eggs get bigger with age – in general. Of course, as with any natural product, there is always some variation. We do our best to grade out the eggs so that you only get eggs of a certain size in your cartons.
Why do your eggs taste so good?
The natural goodness that our girls feast on comes through in the way the eggs taste as well. Thick. Rich. Delicious. If you’ve never eaten a pasture-raised egg, your culinary life may be about to change!
Why are the eggs brown?
Little bit of trivia – eggs are colored the same as the earlobes of the hen that lays them, and the longer a hen lays for, the paler her earlobes become! The brown eggs come from the Bovans Browns.
EATING OUR EGGS
Is it OK to eat eggs?
Yes! Eggs are one of the best superfoods that you can eat. Back in the 70s there was some concern about cholesterol levels and such, but more up-to-date studies have shown that eggs actually contain a good mix of good and bad cholesterols, and that the protein, vitamins and omega-3 content more than makes up for any possible downsides.
Eggs are especially great for breakfast, as the healthy dose of high quality protein they give you has been shown to keep you feeling full for much longer than things like cereal or toast.
Where can I find your eggs?
You can find our eggs in Whole Foods nationwide, and a huge number of other stores, both natural and regular. Use our Amazing Egg Finder finder to find the closest to you.
Can you deliver eggs?
If you like your eggs scrambled on arrival – sure! We’re looking at ways to better do this, so keep your eyes open.
Can I eat your eggs raw or uncooked?
While we cannot recommend eating our eggs cooked to anything less that FDA guidelines, plenty of our crew have eaten eggs less than cooked through and have lived to tell the tale!
Do you wash your eggs?
In the US, USDA regulations require that we wash and clean our eggs before we pack them – ostensibly to reduce the risks of contamination from things like salmonella – but washing does remove the eggs natural protective layer (called the ‘cuticle’ or ‘bloom’), which is why eggs over here must be kept refrigerated. They do things a little different over in Europe, where eggs are not washed, and therefore do not need to be refrigerated.
How do I know if I’ve waited too long to cook the eggs?
Properly refrigerated, eggs can last a lot longer than you’d expect, but if your eggs have past their best by date, you should be able to tell if they are still good enough to eat by cracking one open. An egg-too-late smells unmistakably sulfurous – so if it don’t smell, then all is swell, but if in doubt, throw it out!
Where are your farms?
All our family-owned farms are in southern states – from Georgia to Kansas. – areas of the country that have the perfect climate for year round pasture-raising. It’s important that our girls get outside as much as possible, so our farms can’t be too far north (where snow might keep them indoors for weeks at a time). The west coast has a tendency towards drought (which is obviously no good for pasture!) and the north-west is better suited to ducks!
FEED AND CERTIFICATIONS
What do your girls eat?
Our hens get to be outside almost every day, so a lot of what they eat comes from what they forage out in the pastures. Chickens are natural omnivores, which means that they’ll eat native and seasonal grasses (things like clover, rye, wild onion) as happily as they’ll gulp down a crunchy grasshopper or fat, juicy worm.
They also need about 4oz. of feed a day to keep laying. So while they get a good portion of their daily requirement out in the fields, we make sure to provide them with a supplemental feed to keep them happy, healthy and well fed.
The feed is made up of corn and unprocessed soybean meal – depending on the particular flock, it may be Certified Organic, NonGMO Project Verified or conventional – but nothing else is added – no hormones or antibiotics.
Is there soy in the their feed?
Yes, the feed does contain unprocessed soymeal. While we appreciate that some people experience a certain sensitivity to soy, or may have health concerns about it, it is still the best source of the essential proteins and amino acids that our girls need to lay.
We’ve also had our eggs tested, and they do typically have lower levels of isoflavones than conventional factory eggs.
What’s the difference between all your egg types?
While all our pasture-raised eggs come from flocks of hens enjoying the same living conditions – out on pastures all year long – we do have 3 different egg types: USDA Certified Organic (sold as Vital Farms in Whole Foods and in other retailers as Pasture Verde), NonGMO Project Verified (sold in Whole Foods as Backyard Eggs and in other retailers as Lucky Ladies) and conventional (sold as Texas Chicken Ranch in HEB stores and Alfresco Eggs in all other retailers). The only difference between each of these is in the certification of the supplemental feed – the Vital Farms/Pasture Verde girls get a USDA Certified Organic feed, the Backyard Eggs/Lucky Ladies girls get a Non GMO Project Verified feed, and the rest get a conventional feed. Other than that, they’re just the same.

What is Certified Humane?
Certified Humane® is considered to be the gold standard in animal welfare certification; they have a Scientific Committee of internationally renowned animal scientists, veterinarians and researchers who set animal care and handling standards for all the major livestock and poultry species raised in the US. Each of our farms must go through an extensive application, inspection and verification process each year to ensure that they meet or exceed all of the Certified Humane® standards for pasture-raised laying hens, and we are proud to carry the Certified Humane® seal on all of our cartons. You can read more about how Certified Humane® laying hen standards compare to other animal welfare certifications, as well as the National Organic Program, on their website.
What is USDA Certified Organic?
All of our organic eggs (Vital Farms & Pasture Verde) have been certified organic to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) standards. When you see the organic seal on a carton of eggs, it means those eggs were produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers; the hens were fed a certified organic diet free of animal by-products and antibiotics, and are required to have outdoor access; and the eggs were washed and packed separately from non-organic eggs to prevent contamination. Organic eggs are also inherently non-GMO eggs, since NOP standards prohibit the use of GMOs. As the organic standards focus primarily on agricultural inputs, while the Certified Humane® program is primarily about animal welfare, the two programs compliment each other and ensure that we are providing the best, most premium egg on the shelf!
What is Non-GMO Project Verified?
Our Backyard Eggs (sold in Whole Foods Market) and Lucky Ladies eggs (sold in all other retailers) are the first Non-GMO Project Verified pasture-raised eggs in the US! As you would expect, Non-GMO Project verification is focused on GMO content of various consumer products. For eggs, this means that they verify our girls are fed a diet that is in compliance with the Non-GMO Project standards for animal feed; they conduct annual inspections of the feed mill where we purchase the ladies’ supplemental feed, and they do traceability audits at our packing facilities to ensure that only non-GMO eggs are packed into the Backyard Eggs and Lucky Ladies carton.
HEN WELFARE
What kind of hens do you have?
There are a number of commercial egg-laying breeds, but the ones that we have the best results with are called Bovans Browns.
Are your egg laying hens the same as the hens we can eat?
American tastes are such that most people don’t find egg-laying hens tasty enough to eat. So no, our egg laying hens are not the same breed as any broiler chickens that you’ll find at the grocers.
Do you take hens from factories?
No, sadly we cannot emancipate caged hens! We get all of our ladies as young girls when they are still tiny. Our organic chicks need to be fed Certified Organic feed from the second day after hatching to meet the organic standards!
Do you trim beaks?
We do use an infrared beak tipping process when they are one day old, but that’s only to reduce the sharpness of their beak hook – if we didn’t do that, they could do each other some serious harm. This does not affect the hen long term and in the end, this makes their lives much less stressful as they can cause serious damage to each other with their beak hooks.
Does Vital Farms cull male chicks?
As we do not have our own hatchery or breed any of our own hens, we don’t actually hatch any male chicks on any of our farms.But at Vital Farms, we believe it is important to treat all animals humanely and with respect. While our family farmers purchase their pullets from suppliers that share our high standards of animal welfare, the culling of male chicks does happen at even the best hatcheries.
However, there are some hopeful signs of change! To help bring the practice to an end, we’ve recently invested in TeraEgg, a new technology that promises to determine a chick’s gender within a day or 2 of being laid. We know that this exciting innovation will change the egg industry for the better.
What happens to older hens?
Up until recently we were donating our spent hens to families in need overseas with the help of a processor in the Ozarks. While the program is no longer available, we are always on the lookout for viable alternatives so that when our hens are no longer able to lay eggs for Vital Farms, they can be a gift for folks in need of quality protein.
What happens to the girls in winter?
Our girls don’t need to fly south for winter, as that’s already where they live! One of the reasons that all our farms are in southern states – from Georgia to Kansas – is so that we can keep the girls out on pasture all year-round without needing to knit them little chicken sweaters! We do install extra lighting in the barns to keep the winter blues away as well.
Do you have roosters?
As we buy our chicks from certified sources, we only get hens. So there are typically no roosters on any of our farms. On the very rare occasion that we do find a rooster, we let him live out his natural life. But before you think that he’s one lucky little fella’, you should know that his is not the quiet life. Hens have a very structured social hierarchy – the term ‘pecking order’ comes from the way hens behave in a flock. If you have a solitary rooster in there, he gets to be right at the bottom of that ladder, where he’s, quite literally, a hen pecked bachelor!
How do you keep your girls safe?
From a very early age, we teach our girls to come indoors before sunset, so at night, when the risk of predation is highest, they’re tucked up safe and sound. We regularly patrol all our farms, and use non-harmful counter-measures to keep aerial predators at bay – simple things like dummy owls are quite amazing!