What it really means to raise eggs on pasture

What it really means to raise eggs on pasture

Did you know that we diligently rotate thousands of hens across millions of square feet of pasture every year?

Every single day, we move shelters housing nesters, feeders, and waters, each weighing up to 5,000 pounds per shelter. As we shift the hens, we also set up portable electric netting to safeguard them from ground predators, meaning we install and dismantle thousands of feet of fencing each season.

To ensure fresh water supply, we've gone to great lengths, installing waterlines throughout our pastures. Additionally, we travel out to the pasture every afternoon to collect thousands of eggs and move the shelters forward. This entire process demands a lot of infrastructure, planning, and dedicated people to make it all happen.

So, why do we put in all this effort? For us, raising hens on pasture goes beyond just producing eggs. It's about embracing a holistic purpose of improving our land and maintaining the health of our pastures. As the birds roam freely, they naturally cleanse the pasture by consuming bugs, reducing pests and parasites, while simultaneously fertilizing the land.

Their scratching in the pasture also promotes the growth of new plant species, fostering the diverse plant life that a healthy pasture needs. Constant rotation provides the hens with a fresh salad bar of food daily, along with a clean and healthy living space. The result? Fertile soils, thriving plants, healthy hens, and the very best eggs! That's how we define true pasture-raised eggs.

However, there's an important aspect you should be aware of. As pasture-raised eggs gain popularity, some large brands with contract producers are cutting corners, labeling their eggs as "pasture-raised," and charging a premium for them. But in reality, they use large permanent "confinement-style" chicken houses in the middle of a pasture field, where only a fraction of the birds actually access the outside area.

Don't be deceived by claims of up to 100 square feet of pasture per hen. Companies that make this claim are referring to a static 100 sq ft.  In other words they are not moved on a regular basis. At Maple Wind Farm, we know from experience that too keep our pastures and hens healthy, we must move our hens daily to new grass. These large-scale operations might have standing pasture around their buildings, but it's evident that their hens don't utilize a significant portion of it.

To ensure you're truly getting pasture-raised eggs, ask just one crucial question of your farmer:

  1. Are the hens rotated daily to fresh pasture whenever possible?

If you can't get a straight answer to that question, chances are you're not buying genuine pasture-raised eggs. We encourage you to support local and regional farms where you can witness firsthand how your eggs are raised.

Thank you from your farmers at Maple Wind! Enjoy those deep orange yolks!

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