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About Pasture Raised Poultry

   Industrial/conventional vs. “cage free” vs. “free range” vs. “organic”      vs. pasture raised? What’s it all mean?!

With so many different claims on egg labels it can be difficult to appreciate what it all means, but we all intuitively know that animals raised in their natural environment – in our case, the pasture – the happier they are, and the better they perform.

Your conventional egg in the supermarket comes from a factory of thousands of hens crammed so tightly together in cages that they can’t even open their wings and can barely turn around, choking on fecal dust twenty four hours a day. From “farms” using medicated feed to keep the sick animals alive and trick them into becoming a barely functioning machine, with artificial lights and periodic starvation to jolt their bodies into laying, and mutilating their beaks so that they won’t cannibalize each other from going crazy in that kind of environment.

“Cage free” and “free range” are simply terms meant to hide the fact that they are only slightly better than conventional factory farms. The birds are crammed together in long sheds.  Able to walk, still medicated, still mutilated.

“Allowed access to the outside” is how the USDA defines “free-range.” This inadequate definition means that producers can, and do, label their eggs as “free-range” even if all they do is leave little doors open on their giant sheds, regardless of whether the birds ever learn to go outside, and regardless of whether there is good pasture or just bare dirt or concrete outside those doors!

Our pasture raised hens spend their entire lives outside (except for a brief 3 week infancy period under a heat lamp), able to express all of their simple, natural behaviors: gossiping, sunbathing, dust baths, worm hunting, meticulously cleaning themselves feather by feather, laying the best eggs ever, sprinting, perching, clucking, establishing the pecking order, playing, napping, flapping their wings, drinking out of puddles when it rains, pecking and moonwalking (how they scratch up the ground looking for snacks)!

The term “organic” is not comprehensive enough to be used to describe our eggs. The word is considered a legal term requiring certification. But the certification only requires that the chickens be fed organic feed and not be medicated. It says nothing else about how they are raised or what kind of life they have. Most “organic” eggs in the supermarket should actually be called “industrial organic” since they practice the same production methods as factory farms, in giant sheds, only with a different “organic” corn based feed.

Our hens’ feed is intentionally free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) – removing it even further from the industrial-chemical food system and creating the shortest possible food chain from farm to fork. It is made by Buxton Feed, a small, family run feed mill just off Highway 26 toward the coast. 100% GMO-free - consisting of organic corn and soy and locally sourced peas, wheat and barley grown without pesticides.

The outdoor lifestyle of our flock combined with the highest quality and environmentally conscious feed positions our eggs well beyond the organic standard. They’re pretty much the best eggs you can get in every possible way.

Nutritional info, benefits of pasture raised

Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. Testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

• 1/3 less cholesterol

• 1/4 less saturated fat

• 2/3 more vitamin A

• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids

• 3 times more vitamin E

• 7 times more beta carotene

  Mounting Evidence

    In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.

    In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.

    A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.

    A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.

    In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.

    The 2005 study Mother Earth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene.






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