Chickens like grass. And even more, they like bugs! After starting their lives in a deep litter bedding system where they protected from the elements and predators, our chickens move out to pasture at five months of age, just before they start laying eggs. They live in mobile chicken coops and are surrounded by electric net fencing to keep out coyotes and other hoofed predators. This system provides them with fresh grasses and a slew of other plants to eat, along with plenty of bugs and worms.
Do not be fooled by “vegetarian-fed” labels on egg cartons — chickens are omnivores and need protein to produce rich, healthy eggs. In addition to all the delights of the pasture, our chickens’ (mostly organic and non-GMO) grain ration includes spent brewery grain from Second Line Brewing and Brieux Carre Brewing Company in New Orleans.
Rotating chickens on pasture – in our case we typically give them 100 foot by 100 foot grids – allows them to truly behave like chickens, which includes dust bathing in the sun, running around and taking short flights and scratching and pecking to their hearts’ content. Our chickens generally follow our ruminants in a rotational pattern, so they even peck through the cow patties for fly larvae, sanitizing the pastures for the cattle and goats and keeping the pesky fly population down.
We also keep a small free range flock of Dominique chickens near our barn and compost piles. Their mission is to clean up spilled feed in the barn and to scratch through the top layer of compost to keep flies down around the barn. Beyond that, they free range anywhere they’d like on the property, but always make their way home to their coop at night. They’re happy doing what nature designed them to do, and we’re putting them to work for the benefit of the whole farm!
We collect eggs twice a day, and bring them to Laughing Buddha several times a week. Even with a few hundred birds, we can barely keep up with demand for eggs. That means that you are often getting eggs that were laid in the day or two prior to your purchase. It doesn’t get fresher than that! Eggs are weighed and sold by standard eggs sizes – small ($4), medium ($5.25), large ($6.25) and jumbo ($7.25).
After two or three years of laying eggs, we retire our hens (along with roosters hatched from our breeding flocks) by processing them quickly and humanely on the farm. We sell these whole birds frozen as pet food.
Why Eat Pastured Eggs
Studies have shown eggs from chickens raised on pasture to have:
Significantly higher Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Lower Bad Cholesterol
Higher Good Cholesterol
Higher Beta Carotene and Vitamin E
Plus, they taste better and perform better in baking!