- What chicken breed(s) do you raise?Red Star, Black Star, Buff Orpington, Americanas, a little bit of this and that.
Why did you choose those breed(s), and are you satisfied with their performance?When we first went from a few hens for ourselves to a large number for eggs, we bought the variety pack. We wanted lots of beautiful hens to look at and enjoy. After all, they were our front lawn ornaments. We soon realized that we should focus on a few breeds and started ordering batches of production oriented breeds. We have to confess, we still like the beauty of variety.
Which breed’s eggs did you send in to be tested?Eight-month old Red Stars
How many laying hens do you have?150 (40 just starting to lay in July)
In what year of laying are the hens?First or Second
We keep a daily tally of eggs gathered by color and location (although each location has more than one breed of bird). We also attempt to keep track of the exact number of birds. Since they are all on pasture and some wander off, our numbers need periodic adjustment. Here is an attempt at a snapshot over time:
July, 2006 (hens just beginning to lay): 119 hens, 25 eggs/day August, 2006: 110 hens, 27 eggs/day
Sept, 2006: 95 hens, 26 eggs/day
October, 2006: 95 hens, 26 eggs/day
November, 2006: 87 hens, 21 eggs/day
December, 2006: 74 hens, 21 eggs/day
January, 2007: 79 hens, 37 eggs/day
February, 2007: 79 hens, 25 eggs/day
March, 2007: 79 hens, 27 eggs/day
April, 2007: 109 hens, 63 eggs/day (Red Stars began to lay and it’s spring!)
May, 2007: 109 hens, 68 eggs/day
June, 2007: 109 hens, 61 eggs/day
July, 2007: 150 hens, 64 eggs/day (partial month, Black Stars beginning to lay)
What, if any, measures do you take to extend the egg production season?From October to March, their laying/roosting shelters are equipped with a heat lap. This is to reduce the drop in their lay rate through winter and to provide extra warmth during cold spells. Hens continue to have access to outside pasture through the winter.
What kind(s) of supplemental feed do you use? Please be as specific as possible, including the brand name or farm where you get your feed.Custom soy-free certified organic 16% layer mash from In-Season Farms in British Columbia (about 20 miles from the farm) through Westlyn Feed in Lynden, WA. Hens also have free choice oyster shell.
If you have kept confined hens, can you estimate how much less feed hens raised on pasture consume?We have not raised confined hens.
Tell us about the living and ranging conditions of your hens. For example, what kind of pens do you have? Did you build them yourself? Do you use moveable pens? If so, how often do you move the birds to fresh pasture? What is the approximate size of the area on which your chickens are free to range and forage on a given day? Are there any specific plants in the pasture that you know your birds eat?We have portable roosting/laying shelters that we built. These shelters are enclosed behind a large area of polynet electric fencing, about a ¼ acre per 80 birds. The shelter remains open 24 hours a day, except in the most extreme cold weather conditions or during periods of high aerial predation. The shelters and fencing are moved to fresh pasture every 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the season.
Each fenced area has 50 lb range feeders from Kuhl which are moved every two days. Our waterers built out of a length of plastic gutter, capped on both ends with a float valve attached to garden hoses.
How would you characterize the area in which you live—urban, suburban or rural? Are there any local regulations you had to meet to be able to raise chickens?We are in a rural zone wedged between two cities. We did not need to meet specific regulations to raise chickens as we are zoned agricultural.
We have not had any problems with land predators. The polynet electric fencing has been completely successful protecting our birds from coyotes, stray dogs and whatever other land based predators have been after them.
Our biggest struggle has been aerial predators: eagles, hawks and owls. In order to try to protect them, young chicks leaving the brooder are placed in a fenced area with deer netting spread across the top. Once they are larger, the new hens are incorporated into one of the larger flocks and no longer have the overhead netting. We are experimenting with ways to deter aerial predators and have found that, during periods of high predation, keeping the chickens feed in their shelters, closing the shelter door from dusk till dawn or moving their paddock to treed areas seems most effective.
Do you sell your eggs? If so, where and for how much?We sell our Certified Organic eggs on farm by subscription or individual carton. Individually, our eggs sell for $4 per dozen. Subscribers prepay for 12 dozen eggs, and receive an extra dozen for free each time they renew. We advertise through a sandwich board at the end of our driveway and through word of mouth.
Can you estimate how much you earn per year, per bird?As best as we can tell, it costs us about $3.19 per dozen eggs. We’re not sure how much it will be per bird as we want to take into account the entire lifespan laying of the birds.
What do you think are the main reasons customers choose your eggs? (flavor, nutrition, more humane conditions, etc.)Our customers rave about the taste of our eggs. They love the deep orange color of the yolk, the freshness and how well they perform in baked goods. It also encourages them to be able to see the healthy and humane conditions in which the hens are raised. Customers pick up their eggs from the farm where they are laid, so they are always able to see exactly how the hens live.
Do you have any notable comments from customers that you can share with us? Are there any customers whose contact information you can give us so we can talk directly with them about why they choose your eggs?
“The eggs are fabulous. I love the freshness and knowing that they are healthy is even better
.” —Steve Neely
4007 Springland Lane
Bellingham, WA 98226 360-647-8504
“Having had a farm for 10 years at one time, I raised my own beef, lamb, chickens, and such. It's a real pleasure to return to eggs that have quality of taste, texture, and looks. Now that I get the added benefit of less cholesterol and all the nutritional benefits, I am simply delighted.
Instead of once a week, I am having eggs twice a week.” —Danny G. Langdon, Partner, Performance International
1941 Lake Whatcom Blvd. #193 Bellingham, WA 98229 360-738-4010 (office) 360-738-6667 (fax) 360-661-3213 (cellphone) firstname.lastname@example.org
As a breast cancer survivor, I'm committed to ingredients and cooking methods that optimize nutrition and other health benefits. Moreover, as a cooking professional, I know that eating a healthy diet certainly doesn't mean sacrificing flavor and other pleasures of good food. Misty Meadows eggs fit right in with this food philosophy and are a big part of my family's diet. They have fabulous flavor, their colorful shells and deep yellow-orange yolks are beautiful, and they perform wonderfully in baked goods and other dishes. All that, plus incredible nutritional content far beyond conventional factory and even national organic brands. We also love that they come from a local organic farm whose chickens are raised with great care and whose owners are devoted stewards of the land. I love these eggs -- my kids and husband love these eggs -- and we got several friends to switch to them, too. We're all hooked!” —Claire Niland
email@example.com 9 Star View Lane, Bellingham, WA 98229 360-305-2475
Many of you have expressed dismay at our using the term “free-range eggs,” because of the way that language has been tarnished by certain producers whose birds really have no access to fresh pasture. Are you aware of any of these “industrial free-range” farms in your area? If so, please provide us with as much information about the producer as possible.
Feel free to share any additional comments with us.We began raising eggs to feed our family. While still living in the suburbs, we fell in love with chickens and eagerly wanted to raise them. Unfortunately, our upscale neighborhood had covenants that specifically banned them, even though the city allowed them. We decided it was time to move.
We began with three hens, enough for a dozen eggs week. The first time we found an egg, we wanted to throw a party! Immediately, we were struck with how much more flavorful they were than store-bought eggs. We were hooked. Within a year, our flock grew to over 100 birds. We can’t imagine ever going back to buying bland factory-farmed eggs again. We will be growing our own eggs for life.