This Week ‘Round The Farm
I guess we were late with breakfast. 🤷♀️
So glad they have each other. ❤
I need to know what hair products she’s using. 💇♀️
Eyelashes for daaaaayyys👀
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Lets Talk Eggs
Marketing Claims, What They Mean, & Why It Matters
I’m sure you’ve seen the labels. ‘Cage Free’, ‘Free Range’, or ‘Free Roaming’. You know, the ones that cost three – four times the price of conventional eggs with pictures of happy hens on pasture. This week, I want to share what those labels mean, and more importantly, what they DON’T mean. Lets go!
The photo above says it all. These are the eggs usually priced around 99¢ per dozen. While very affordable on their face, there are hidden cost you don’t see such as the pollution from excess / concentrated manure as well as disease outbreaks and recalls from such confined conditions.
These eggs come from chickens that spend their entire life in cages housed in large barns. They are given a little less than 1/2 a square foot per bird (that’s ~ 6 inches x 6 inches). No outside. No sunlight. No bugs or grass. Beak trimming is sometimes done to prevent cannibalism and medicated feed is the norm. Instead of finding solutions to problems, this has turned solutions INTO problems.
Shown above are ‘Cage Free’ chickens. To be labeled ‘Cage Free’, the USDA (rule makers) state “hens that are able to roam vertically and horizontally in indoor houses, and have access to fresh food and water.“
What this means is the hens are raised in barns and are only required to be given 1 sq foot per bird of space. Now imagine 10,000 birds in this setting. No pasture, bugs, or grass. Not even a door to go out of for direct sunlight or non-ventilated fresh air. Don’t be fooled by the scenic pasture portrayal on the box!
Free Range (Free Roaming)
This designation goes a step further than ‘Cage Free’, in that doors are provided for the chickens to access the outside. Per the USDA, Free range means birds must have “access to the outside”. Key word here is ‘ACCESS’. The don’t have to make it outside, only that there be a door leading from the barn. This doesn’t mean they go and definitely doesn’t mean they are raised out on a pasture if they do make it outside. Their feed and water are typically inside large barns, thus some of the birds don’t see the light of day. If they do, it’s usually to a barren lot as without the ability to move the barn, any grass will be eaten, trampled, or burned up by the large amount of manure concentrated in a small area.
This is how we do it at Longbottom Farm. Unlike the other labels above, Pasture-Raised has no official definition by the USDA. As members of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA), we follow their standard which is “Pastured poultry will live a majority of its life on pasture and will be rotated to fresh green grass in a managed (i.e., deliberate) way that benefits the bird, the land, the community, and the eater.” In short, chickens with MOBILE SHELTER that live ON PASTURE, so as to be moved constantly to pasture with grass. This makes all the difference.
Moving hens regularly around the farm means that in addition to non-GMO feed, they receive a diverse diet of grass, forages, and bugs. The pasture is our main ingredient for healthy, delicious eggs. You won’t find this ingredient in the above systems. Just crack a conventional egg along side a pasture raised egg to see the difference. The pasture is what provides the golden center and firm tone you’ve come to expect from us.
Moving hens also benefits the land. Manure is spread as fertilizer (not trucked off as waste). We would own chickens on our farm just for the benefits to our pasture, even if they didn’t produce eggs.
With pasture raised hens at Longbottom Farm, you get a better tasting, antibiotic free, healthy product! You’re also participating in improving the land and environment (fertilizer without toxic waste). You’re supporting the humane and kind treatment of animals (chicken cuddles!). Most importantly, you’re voting against the gimmicks and deceptive marketing claims that charge you more for less. Thanks for being part the change that’s needed in our food system. Want to see our hens in action. Give us a shout to set up a farm tour.