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There are a lot of terms floating around in the egg market these days that are leading to confusion among consumers: free range, cage free, organic, pastured, etc. I describe my Wise Acre Farm eggs as being from happy Free Range hens. My hens truly are out on range daily, however, according to the USDA, “Free Range” does not necessarily mean that hens are outside all day, or on any kind of pasture with access to a natural setting. USDA’s definition of FREE RANGE or FREE ROAMING is simply: “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” All this means is that the hens’ housing facility must have a door that allows the chickens to go outside if they choose. “Outside” could be a small concrete slab or bare dirt. This definition is virtually meaningless, saying nothing about the quality of the eggs or the living conditions of the hens.

If you are concerned about the quality of eggs you are purchasing and the quality of life of the hens producing those eggs, your best bet is to purchase eggs from a local producer. Farmers markets and farm stands are a great choice. You can meet the farmer at these venues and ask them directly how their hens are raised. In some cases, you may be welcome to visit the farm and see for yourself how the hens are raised.

I can’t speak for any of the eggs you find in your supermarket, but I can tell you that the hens at Wise Acre Farm are raised in the most humane and natural way possible. I raise my hens from day-old chicks. Once they are grown enough to be safely placed outdoors, they are allowed daily access to pasture. I raise a small flock of 50 hens in a large enough space to ensure there is no overcrowding. My hens are outside all day with free access to food, water, grass, bugs, dirt, sun and shade. They have a large coup with ten nesting boxes and ample roosting space. Hens are allowed free access to their coup for egg laying at their leisure. The hens are locked up in their coup at night for protection from predators. I do not provide artificial lighting or forced moltings. Wings are not clipped and beaks are not trimmed. Hens are not exposed to hormones, antibiotics or chemicals. Eggs and laying hens are sold locally from the farm and at our certified farmers market.

My customers know exactly where their eggs come from. Do you?

picture of hen

Wise Acre Farm Pastured Hen

 

 

 

 

 

picture of baby chicks

Future egg layers

 

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