After enjoying a wonderful Easter Sunday cantata at our church, Bryan and I headed another 45 minutes south (and thus about 1 1/2 hours south of our farm) to pick up 20 1-year-old laying hens from an Organic Valley Coop egg farmer who had them for sale.
I like Organic Valley and am a loyal customer of their dairy products, but I have to say I was surprised by the high production at this farm. It wasn’t anything like the confinement egg operations you see in the conventional ag industry, which is nightmarish, but it wasn’t what I had imagined, either. It’s still high production … but the birds weren’t confined in cages, and we know, since they were O.V. birds, they weren’t fed all the chems and meds that conventional birds would receive. A vast improvement over the factory-farms which produce the 99 cents/dozen chalk-white eggs at the supermarket … but we kinda like what we’re doing with these 20 hens, and we think the hens like it, too.
We kept them in the Eggmobile for the first three days, to make sure they had settled down after the stress of the move, and also to make sure they were accustomed to laying their eggs in the nesting boxes, so we wouldn’t have to hunt all over the pastures for the little brown orbs.
On day four, Bryan opened up the ramp and I readied my camera to capture the big moment! But the girls were too nervous to come out.
Bryan moved the red waterer closer to the ramp, so they’d be able to see it. Since it had been in the Eggmobile with them for those first three days, they knew what it was. That should draw them out of the Eggmobile! I readied my camera again and waited …
No go. They were still too skittish to come down that ramp. More work to do on the farm, so we left them with the ramp door open, and hoped they would come out and enjoy the fresh air, cold as it was.
This afternoon, Bryan and I finished the Mobile Chicken Tractor, which will house our broilers out on the pasture in just a few days when we move them out of the brooder. I had my camera with me to take some photos of the construction, including this shot of one of our farm kitties, 1-year-old Hobbes, who decided to “help” Bryan with his work …
After we finished the tractor, I headed out toward the pasture, and found the girls happily scratching through the grass, pecking at bugs, and enjoying the sunshine!
I’m looking forward to watching the yolks on these eggs turn from the winter-time, barn-raised yellow to the deep orange of foraging, bug-eating, pasture-raised hens. The nutrition of these eggs can’t be beat, and the satisfaction of knowing that the hens that laid the eggs are enjoying their chicken-lives while they are in our “employ” is icing on the cake!
Guide to Backyard Eggs
When hens reach maturity and begin laying eggs their bodies take time to adjust to the laying cycle and as a result their first eggs are small.