Meet our pasture-raised, egg-laying, clucky gals! Our hens spend their summer days scratching, pecking, and roaming four acres of pasture. Each day they are let out to explore from dusk until dawn. In the winter months, they are given the option to go out but typically tend to stay in. Their indoor coop is roughly 12' by 12' with a sand floor, heat lamps, nesting boxes full of straw, swings, and perches. Fresh fruits and veggies are offered up daily along side their fancy scratch grains.
Nutritious Colored Eggs
Eggs can come in a variety of colors; cream, pink, blue, green, brown. Interestingly enough, the egg color is actually an indication of the chicken's breed, not their nutritional value.
Research conducted by Penn State College of Ag Sciences has shown that food and living conditions affect the nutrition of an egg. The study shows that pasture-raised eggs are more nutritious than eggs produced by commercial hens. They have
Twice the amount of vitamin E
Twice the amount of omega-3 fatty acids (good fat)
Less than half the ratio of omega-6 fatty acid (bad fats)
Higher Vitamin A concentrations
So, About Those Egg Labels
There are many different governing bodies and organizations that define standards and regulations for egg production. The Food and Drug Administration regulates egg processing plants (wash/sort/pack) while the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates the actual shell egg and by-products (dried, frozen, liquid). In order for egg producers to use USDA certified labels, they must be pre-approved by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service division. Below you will find some of AMS's label certifications
Caged (no label): Hens are confined to a cage and often cannot move around freely. Small drawer shaped cages called battery cages are often used. These cages are only a few feet wide and around 15 inches tall
Cage-Free: Hens are housed in an indoor enclosure that allows them to move around horizontally and vertically but are not required to have access to the outdoors. While this is a small improvement in hen welfare, the space required for each hen is still very low and they are often packed full in poultry houses.
Free-Range: Hens must be able to roam indoors with access to the outdoors. Farms are not required to use third-party auditing.
Pasture-Raised: Hens have unlimited access to the outdoors and graze primarily by eating grass and bugs. Farms are not required to use third-party auditing.
Organic: uncaged hens that are allowed free range of their houses and access to outdoor spaces. They are fed an organic diet produced according to NOP standards
100% Natural: Eggs do not have any flavorings, brines, or coloring added to them
No Added Hormones: Federal regulations prohibit giving hormones under all circumstances, so this label can be placed on all USDA certified eggs.
Many other groups including United Egg Producers, Certified Humane, A Greener World (AGW animal welfare approved) collaborate with farmers to define other certifications and guidelines that advance hen care for responsible egg production.