Laying hens are the connoisseurs of the farmyard. If you spent a day with our flock you'd find yourself competing for the best spot of pasture, the most coveted nesting box, the handsomest rooster. And don't even THINK about catching a lizard if you're not going to share it with 999 of your closest friends. Eggs from pastured hens are richer in flavor and vitamins, lower in cholesterol, and have more desirable fat composition. Our eggs are in our customers' kitchens within hours to days of being laid... it doesn't get any fresher than this!
Rotation & Forage
Our 1000-hen laying flock lives on a 10-acre grass pasture. They roost and nest (lay eggs) in converted cotton trailers that are never closed up, not even at night. The girls are remarkably true to their nest boxes, and lay their eggs inside without exception. We move our roosting and nesting trailers to a new part of the pasture every 1-2 weeks, but the hens always have access to the entire pasture.
The hens come off their roosts at first light, forage through dawn, and then come in to lay eggs in the late morning through early afternoon. That's followed by more foraging in the late afternoon and evening hours, and by dark they've gone back inside to roost. Our faithful livestock guardian dogs keep them safe from predators day and night.
Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are often praised for their dark yolks. The Mediterranean climate of the Central Coast creates green pasture grasses from November through July. In August, September, and early October the grass is very dry. Egg yolks from our hens will vary in color through the seasons (lighter in the dry season, darker in the wet season), but also within any given day depending on exactly what each hen finds to eat on the pasture.
Most of our laying hens are a brown chicken that is a cross between Rhode Island Red and a New Hampshire Red. They lay... brown eggs!
We keep a smaller percentage of White Leghorn chickens, which are the most prolific laying breed. They lay... white eggs! Our White Leghorn ladies love the pasture as much as any breed, so there is nothing inferior about a white egg from a pastured hen. They just look pretty.
We also keep a small percentage of Auracauna or Americauna hens. These are light brown birds with puffy cheeks and a fiesty temperament. They lay eggs that range in color from blue to green (and many shades in between). Egg dozens that contain a blue egg are a farmer's market favorite with kids and childlike adults. (They taste the same as the white and brown eggs.)
The chicken breeds that lay eggs are entirely different from the breeds raised for meat. After 2 years on the pasture, our laying hens make excellent soups and stocks, but are the very definition of a "tough old bird." Laying hens definitely do not make for a tender roasting chicken!
In addition to 24/7 access to forage, our laying hens receive pure crushed oyster shells for calcium and a certified organic, milled grain supplement to help meet their high energy and protein requirements. They also receive organic fruits and veggies as treats.
Have concerns about soy, corn, or GMO contamination? Click here for more info.
And just why do we supplement anyway? Because chickens are monogastric omnivores with high energy and protein requirements, so they can't be "100% grassfed" the way a ruminant animal like a cow can. (Think about all those wild birds that like to eat birdseed.) Unsupplemented chickens would theoretically need a full acre EACH over which to forage their entire nutritional requirements!