The Shady Grove Farm
- What chicken breed(s) do you raise? Buckeye, Buff Orpington, Dominique, Delaware, RI Red.
- Why did you choose those breed(s), and are you satisfied with their performance?
Preservation of heritage/rare breeds is very important to us. Just as important (in choosing which breeds to preserve) is how well they live in our open pasture system. We seek a bird that forages actively, is naturally healthy and strong, and has a good temperament (especially cockerels/cocks). Birds are further selected for laying ability and for rate of growth (meat breeds)
- Which breed’s eggs did you send in to be tested?Buckeye
- How many laying hens do you have?200 total, 6 are Buckeye breeding flock.
- In what year of laying are the hens?First year for Buckeyes, the others are up to five years old.
- Approximately how many eggs do they lay per hen, per month? Please include seasonal variations.On an annual average our rate of lay is 20 eggs per bird per month, with a winter low of 14 and a summer peak of 26.
- What, if any, measures do you take to extend the egg production season?We do not use light or any other methods to increase their rate of lay in the winter. The birds are in range housing that provides plenty of natural light and shields them from the elements. Birds are allowed to lay at their natural pace.
- 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.Birds are started on Purina Start n Grow, then supplemented with Purina Layena after moving to pasture. Our pasture and planted forages are the key to our feeding program and constitute the majority of the diet. Birds also clean up fields after a crop or are fed culled produce.
- If you have kept confined hens, can you estimate how much less feed hens raised on pasture consume?Never have kept confinement birds, but having used chicken tractors in the beginning, then switching to open pasture system where the birds can forage a larger area, the feed consumption has been reduced by 70% of the original consumption.
- 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?Some of our ‘pet’ chickens are in small tractors that move daily around our garden/pasture.
Overall, our poultry live in a 10’x20’ structure covered in greenhouse plastic. The plastic allows maximum light and solar heating in winter, with side flaps down in severe weather. In the summer a shade tarp is pulled over the structure for cooling and the sides are rolled up to allow maximum air flow through the henhouse. Nest boxes are built into the back wall. Roosts, feeders, and water are inside the structure. The floor is earth with deep bedding (6-8 inches deep). Bedding is replaced as needed (used to mulch and fertilize our crops).
The paddocks are either pasture or woods, depending upon the season and rotation. Each structure opens on to two paddocks, one side pasture/field, the other side wooded. This allows us to move birds into shade in hot/dry weather or pasture/field to graze, fertilize, and eat insects. Poultry netting is used to rotate birds where permanent fencing has not yet been installed.
The each shelter has a population of about 25 birds (8 sq ft of shelter per bird). There are roosters with the hens in each flock. The wooded paddocks are about ¼ acre and the pasture areas are 2-5 acres in size. We like a very low population density and do not want areas to be over grazed or denuded.
We do plant pastures and paddocks with a wide array of plants for all livestock to graze. Some plants are intended to offer herbal/medicinal properties, some are intended as forage. Examples of herbal plantings are: wormwood and rosemary. Examples of forage plantings are: mixed grasses, legumes, comfrey, sunflower, native fruits (wild grapes/persimmons).
- 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?Rural and agrarian community, no local regulations.
- Have you had problems with predators, and how have you solved them?Predators are infrequent and usually deterred by fencing or our dogs. Geese are used in remote paddocks to deter hawks with great success.
- Do you sell your eggs? If so, where and for how much?Yes, directly off the farm and to local restaurants. $3.50 per dozen or a case of 15 dozen for $45
- Can you estimate how much you earn per year, per bird?Each bird generates a net profit of about $25 annually from an average gross of $75. Then there is the economic gain of free fertility and pest control for the farm crops. We also hatch our own chicks, so there is the further benefit of inexpensive chicks and rooster for meat production.
- What do you think are the main reasons customers choose your eggs? (flavor, nutrition, more humane conditions, etc.)Everyone comments on the high standing yellow/orange yolks and the flavor. Folks honestly rave about the taste of our eggs.
- 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?Angie Martin, Family129@hotmail.com
Padgett Station Café, Rachel Rose, firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.Not sure what the specific practices are of local, commercial egg operations, there are numerous. Some are caged birds are some are advertised as cage free, some as free range.
We refer to our birds/eggs as ‘pasture raised’ or ‘raised on pasture’.
- Feel free to share any additional comments with us.
NUTRITION TEST RESULTS
- On what date were your egg samples shipped to the lab?
Sent by Don Schrider of ALBC
- Please confirm that we have recorded your test results accurately. If your report shows different values, please indicate that by making a note on the correct line below.
Cholesterol: 321 mg
Omega-3: 590 mg
Vitamin E: 4 IU
Folic acid: 8.51 mg
Selenium: ND: 0.08
Beta carotene: 70 IU
Retinol: 613 IU
Total vitamin A: 683 IU