What are Pastured Poultry Eggs?
According to the USDA, “Free-Range Eggs” are defined as follows:
FREE RANGE or FREE ROAMING:
Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside. 1
This seems rather vague and upon further research we find that there really are no standards for “free-range” egg production. This means that thousands of hens can be un-caged inside large barns with only a small door to access the outdoors. There are no requirements for the amount, duration, or degree of outdoor access. Unfortunately, with little to no real definition, hens can still be left in unsanitary and deplorable conditions.
Mesquite Field Farm chooses to allow our hens the freedom to be outside at all times, hence the term “Pastured Poultry”. The hens are housed in an “egg-mobile”, made popular by Joel Salatin, that provides a safe place to roost at night and lay their eggs. During the day the hens have the ability to forage for their dietary needs with free access to green plant material and insects. They are also provided supplemental feed and kelp at their discretion for peak nutrition.
Why Pastured Eggs?
There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the nutritional superiority of pastured chicken eggs to that of conventionally produced eggs. According to a study recently completed by Mother Earth News, eggs from pastured hens may contain:
4-6 times as much Vitamin D
1/3 less cholesterol
¼ less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times for beta carotene 2
Not only are the eggs superior in taste, the bright yellow-orange yolks are full of fat-soluble antioxidant nutrients that are more bio-available than those found in vegetables, corn and most supplements. 3
Mesquite Field Farm Breeds
Mesquite Field Farm will raise Rhode Island Red, Barred-Plymouth Rock, and a few Americana hens for egg production. The Rhode Island Red and Barred-Plymouth Rock were chosen for their lovely large brown eggs and also their ability to tolerate the temperatures in South Texas. The Americana hens are chosen because they are considered a heritage breed and they lay beautiful blue-green eggs.
Supplemental Feed & Kelp
We will supplemental feed the layer hens with Coyote Creek Farm 16% protein Organic Soy-Free Layer Pellets. The hens will also have free access to mineral kelp to help fulfill any of their nutritional needs.
Pastured Chicken Housing
The Egg-mobile is a portable chicken house that houses laying hens at night while allowing them the ability to free-range on pasture during the day. It can be moved as often as necessary depending on the size of the flock and the quality of the pasture. The chickens will instinctively return to the Egg-mobile in the evening to roost for the night. Outside access to nesting boxes allows for easier more sanitary egg removal and chicken doors provide us the ability to secure the hens in the evening to prevent predation or to easily transport them to a new pasture.
1. “USDA Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms”. USDA.com: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FACTSheets/Meat_&_Poultry_Labeling_Terms/index.asp#4
2. Long, C. and Alterman, T. Mother Earth News, October/November 2007. Found at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-10-01/Tests-Reveal-Healthier-Eggs.aspx
3. “Eat Your Eggs and Have Your Chickens Too”. Allbritton, J. Weston A. Price Foundation, April 2009. Located at: http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/eat-eggs-and-have-chicken-too