These tips may seem different from what a lot of other sources and books may be telling you - that's is probably because we're doing thing very differently on our farm. We are raising our birds organically and naturally and on pasture all day long every day. We pay attention to what they need to truly thrive, and we raise our flock respectfully.
We are also raising only a small number of mostly heritage birds. That makes a big difference too!
Through the years, we've come to realize that there is a lot of info on raising chickens being spread around that is totally untrue and can even be detrimental to most people who are raising a small organic backyard flock. We've created a list of 5 big myths to be aware of!
A couple years ago we ran out of eggs in the middle of December. We usually save enough to get us through the autumn and early winter, which is off-season for eggs. But somehow we used more than we planned for. I needed eggs for holiday baking.
So I went to Whole Foods and looked over the egg selection. There were a couple brands that actually seemed, 'on paper' or 'on the carton' to match our eggs in caliber. In other words there commercial brands were animal welfare approved or some other strict humane certification. They were certified USDA organic so no GMO grains in the their feed and no chemicals used in raising them. The labels mentioned pasture raising and had photos of green fields. They were all from Southern locales, so I thought, 'well, that makes sense - they'd still have green grass and more sunlight to induce laying down in the South.'
The price also seemed to suggest that same raising techniques that we use here. These brands were sold by the half dozen and were prices at $6.99 - $8.99 per half dozen. Economically that made sense to me and matched my experience in costs for raising chickens properly.
So I bought one carton of each of the brands. But when I got home and started using the eggs, I was disappointed in all of them. When I broke them open, the insides fell out - all loose and watery, making it quite clear that they were very old despite the date on the carton. The yolks were so pale it was obvious that the hens that laid these eggs hadn't eaten green grass in a very long time, if ever.
It goes without saying that these eggs were tasteless and terrible compared to our eggs. So sad. I can't imagine what lower quality supermarket eggs are like. I'm seriously spoiled. But maybe not - we work hard to raise our birds and have such nutrient dense and brilliantly tasting eggs. So maybe I'm not spoiled - I just have high expectations for my food and prioritize and work hard to achieve those expectations!
Anyway - now we save lots of eggs for the winter. When the hens finally start laying again in early January, we eat our last eggs that we saved in late September. So the eggs are usually over 3 months old. And they are actually still quite good. Dark yolks of course, but with looser whites and less flavor overall. Not the best for a breakfast egg dish, but just fine for other uses like baking; and still much much better than the sad, more-expensive commercial brands.
Our chicken eggs are currently $9 per dozen.
Consider growing your soil - reserve a spot in our"Art of Soil Building" Workshop!"
The main way that our eggs are different from other local and farm fresh eggs is the feed we feed our birds. Our chickens never eat any feed made with GMO corn or soy or any GMO ingredients at all. The brand of feed we use is also certified organic. We only allow our chickens to eat certified organic vegetables and garden scraps. It is the cost of this super high quality non-GMO feed that determines our egg pricing.
We only break even on egg sales at the prices we charge, and the caring for the chickens is a lot of work and time, but we think it is worth it. It is something we do because we believe in it, our eggs sales do not contribute to our farm's profits! We want to eat the cleaniest and healthiest form of eggs ourselves, and we are very happy to have enough to share with others in our community as well.
You may be wondering why our eggs are so much more expensive than grocery-store eggs. The reason is that they are produced differently. We are a small farm, our products are hand-produced. Grocery-store eggs come from factory-style farms - even the ones marked 'Organic' or 'Free-range' or 'Cage-free' are still produced in unbelievably large masses and in production-line style.
Our Breeding Program at Midsummer Farm
We breed most of our own chicks for our farm, focusing on Ameraucana-Style (Green and Olive-colored egg layers) chickens as well as pure bred Cuckoo Marans, Salmon Faverolles, Speckled Sussex, and Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. We very occasionally have chicks and started birds - straightrun only - available for sale, but we are are a very small breeder and really only breed birds for our own needs.
We only sell chicks to good homes. And we need for you to succeed with the chicks you purchase from us. We put a lot of time and effort into raising healthy and organic chicks and we need them to go to respectful and dedicated homes.
IMPORTANT NOTE: We have decided that we will now only sell chicks to people who have taken our "Raising Organic Backyard Chickens" Workshop.
NOTE: We are not going to be offering chicks for sale in 2017.
Local Sources for Chicks And Hatching Eggs
We can refer you to great local organic farms who will be breeding chicks this coming spring.
Hannelie of Churutabis Farm will have beautiful, organically raised chicks and hatching eggs:
And our friend Ashley has a Craig's List Page for some rare and wonderful breeds of poultry - She also can be contacted via email if you are interested in some of these wonderful breeds: ChickensDunnRight@gmail.com
There were many factors that contributed to our decision to raise chickens and poultry on our farm. First of all, we wanted a nutrient dense and clean protein and fat source in the form of eggs. And we also wanted an animal that could fit comfortably with our farm's size and purpose. Our chickens have had a very positive impact on the improvement and development of our soil, and they are probably the most influential element in why our soil is so wonderful and productive today.
Our eggs are from fulfilled and happy hens living in a naturally sustainable environment...
We feed our laying hens certified organic, non-GMO feed as well as allowing them to freely roam our farm all day long every day. This roaming allows our birds to eat a diverse and varied diet and allows them to produce eggs that are nutrient dense and fully nutritious. The nutrient-richness is obvious when you taste our eggs. They are higher in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Antioxidants, and other nutrients. Eating our eggs will balance cholesterol levels and provide important nutrients for brain development.
The hens that do such a wonderful job laying eggs at Midsummer Farm are treated as family members. They are respected as living, feeling beings and thus enjoy spending the entire day ranging in about 3 acres of pasture, woods, wild meadow, & riparian areas all of which are organically maintained. They are only cooped up at night for their protection; the coop is maintained using a deep-bedding method where composting starts in the bedding itself. The manure is treasured for the wonderful compost it makes and is used on the farm to grow our vegetables.
Our flock is a paradigm of good health; we have never had to use antibiotics or chemicals. This is all a part of how we ensure the circularity and sustainability of our farm and land.
We offer 8 different workshops on backyard poultry, and we STRONGLY encourage people to raise their own chickens and integrate poultry into their gardens!
~Raising Organic Backyard Chickens
~Advanced Organic Chicken Raising
~Dual-Purpose Poultry: Meat, Eggs,
Profit, and more from a small flock!
~Birds & Permaculture
~Integrating Small Scale Organic Poultry into a Productive Farm System
~Cooking with Great Eggs
~Cooking Pasture-Raised Poultry
~Processing Home-Grown Meat Birds
We are dedicated to making sure that our birds get to experience all the things that make birds feel fulfilled. Their ranging territory is diverse providing interest and the ability to truly forage for what they need. We allow hens to become broody, set their own eggs, and care for their own chicks. We have a variety of ages on the ground, young pullets mixing with the mature hens, being able to establish relationships and hierarchies normal to chickens. We never cull older non-laying hens. Part of the egg price you are paying for with these eggs is to help feed the older non-producing birds, who deserve to live out their lives naturally and in peace.
Animal Welfare Approved.
We felt that the USDA Certified Organic and Certified Naturally Grown certifications did not demand the level of humane animal care that we believe in. Animal Welfare Approved has the strictest standards for humane animal care in the country, and we want to support them and be a part of their organization.
Beyond the natural diet of insects and diverse vegetation our hens get while ranging, the grain we feed our birds is always certified organic, local, and never genetically modified. This high-quality food insures that the eggs will also be of high quality. These eggs have extremely dense yellow yolks. They are not only naturally high in Omega-3 fatty acids and a bounty of other nutrients, but they are also the epitome of the goodness of fulfilled and happy hens.
See why we are Certified Organic - Get certified- if you are already doing everything right and truly organically - it is not that hard or expensive!
Our Eggs can be purchased at the farm during our open sale days and workshops or by appointment. We sell to individuals and to groups.
Our Eggs can also be purchased at the Hungry Hollow Co-Op in Chestnut Ridge, NY and at Harvest Moon Health Food store in West Milford, NJ.
Most of our eggs are sold through our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program. We offer both aWinter Egg Share and a Summer Egg Share. More information and sign-up dates can be found on ourCSA page.
Eggs are actually seasonal. Hens that are truly outside on pasture realize winter is on the way by the daylight hours waning and temperatures dropping.
When they realize winter is coming, they slow down in laying eggs and start molting their feathers and growing in new winter feathers. Feather production takes priority over egg laying.
For a hen, eggs are not just for our breakfast, they are for producing chicks. And any good, naturally-raised mother hen knows she doesn't want to raise babies in the cold of winter.
So hens usually slow down in egg-laying in the Autumn and wait until they see the daylight hours getting longer again, before they start laying eggs in earnest again.
We usually see a big increase in egg laying starting around Groundhog Day. So we start selling eggs in February, which is also when ourWinter Egg CSA session starts up again.
Our official egg season is usually February through August.
We are a farm that believes in creating abundance through diversity. We also raise ducks for their wonderful egg laying abilities.
Ducks are more seasonal than chickens, but we do have duck eggs for sale during the spring and most of the summer.
Our Duck Eggs are $6 per half-dozen.
Duck eggs taste very similar to chicken eggs. They tend to have creamier yolks but can usually be used any way that chicken eggs would be used. Duck eggs are known for their use in baking cakes. Cakes made with Duck eggs rise up loftily and are extra moist.
We have been told that people who are allergic to chicken eggs often can consume duck eggs with no issues.
We really encourage people to raise chickens - you will love it! And you'll love eating the most wonderful and fresh eggs!
Although we love allowing our broody hens to hatch and raise their own chicks, we also incubate eggs and raise some batches of chicks ourselves.
We have put a lot of thought and research into how to best feed our flock. We have decided to keep our birds' diet as natural as possible, provide a variety of diverse food sources, and supplement with certified organic and non-GMO grains.
We're pulling together a great article (TO COME) on alternative forages that we have been cultivating for our poultry.
We are now offering Organic Quail Eggs. 9 eggs for $3.00
We sometimes have turkey, peafowl, and goose eggs available.
Are priced at $10 per dozen.