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What does the phrase “organic eggs” mean?

This video from PBS has a number of different perspectives on organic eggs. When you think of Free Range, Cage-Free or Organic Eggs, do you think of chickens out in nature on pasture being able to peck and scratch in dirt? Or do you think of chickens that might never see the outside?

We believe that if you want the best, most nutritious eggs possible then you need to get eggs from pastured chickens. Before we started raising pastured chickens for their eggs, we bought only organic eggs from the store, thinking they were better for us. Once we tried the organic eggs from our pastured chickens, we found that the store-bought organic eggs (which in hindsight probably came from chickens who never saw sunshine or a blade of grass, unfortunately) simply did not compare.  The yolk color of our eggs is more vibrant, the egg has more texture, and experts say that the varied diet–they forage in addition to being fed a high quality, non-GMO feed from a mill–and living conditions result in a more nutritious egg.

In 2007 Mother Earth News, a strong advocate of better farming practices, ran the most thorough nutritional comparison of pasture-raised and factory eggs that we know of. The study involved 14 flocks across the United States whose eggs were tested by an accredited Portland, Oregon laboratory.

They found that the benefits of pasture-raised eggs include:

  • 1⁄3 less cholesterol
  • 1⁄4 less saturated fat
  • 2⁄3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D

In addition to the Mother Earth News research findings, there have been a number of other studies showing that pasture-raised eggs are healthier than those produced by confinement-raised hens. Findings include the following:

  • Pasture-raised eggs contain 70% more vitamin B12 and 50% more folic acid (British Journal of Nutrition, 1974).
  • Pasture-raised eggs are higher in vitamin E and omega-3s than those obtained from battery-cage hens (Animal Feed Science and Technology, 1998).
  • Pasture-raised eggs are 10% lower in fat, 34% lower in cholesterol, contain 40% more vitamin A, and are 4 times higher in omega-3s than standard U.S. battery-cage eggs, and pasture-raised chicken meat has 21% less fat, 30% less saturated fat, and 50% more vitamin A than that of caged chickens (Gorski, Pennsylvania State University, 1999).
  • Pasture-raised eggs have three times more omega-3s and are 220% higher in vitamin E and 62% higher in vitamin A than eggs obtained from battery cage hens (Karsten, Pennsylvania State University, 2003).

If you would like to try organic, pastured eggs yourself, inquire about becoming one of our customers. We offer organic eggs from pastured hens for six dollars a dozen in the Clanton and Calera areas.  Just contact us via Facebook or email us at SweetGumFarm@SGFHoney.com.

Length 10 min 54 sec

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Broilers moving on out

We got the almost 5 week old Freedom Rangers put on pasture Sunday, and they are loving it. We still have a few that are available to order if you are interested. They will be processed about 5-6 weeks from now and should weigh in the 5 to 6 lb range at $5 per pound. If you do decide to try one it will be the best chicken you have ever put in your mouth in our opinion. Check out the short video and pics. 
   

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We have chicks!!

We have chicks! They arrived today. The first picture shows how each little compartment of chicks was packed with a cushioning piece around them, which we’d not seen done before and were glad for. Everyone looked okay after transport, was shown the water and put under the heat lamp to warm up. We now have lots of perky little chicks running around their tractor, eating, drinking, running and growing.


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Anticipation

Among our projects recently has been building yet another “standard”-sized (for us) chicken tractor for the chicks we have ordered. They should be arriving this week so we have been working to build and paint it, then outfit it to give them a safe place to grow until they have grown enough feathers to go outside. The chicks are egg-laying breeds. The majority of them will be amber links because they have been such great chickens for us, but I also wanted to try a few other breeds for comparison as well.

Standard commercial egg producer practices is to keep a chicken for only 2 years, with the reason being that those are the chicken’s prime laying years and supposedly she won’t lay as well after that. Some of our girls are going to be 2 years old this spring, some will be 1 year old this spring. We are going to let our ladies lay as long as they can but want to be sure we have a steady supply of eggs for our customers so we are going to go ahead and start growing the next generation of layers. It can take up to 6 months for a pullet to grow up enough to start laying eggs so it’s definitely something you have to plan for in advance!

Here are a few pictures of the chicken tractor in progress. It’s been built and painted, the feeders and waterers have been scrubbed and sanitized, and the heat lamps are on standby so now all we need is some shavings and we are ready for them! Sometime this week we should have some new chicks posts and pictures to share!

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Decision Time

It may seem like an odd time to think of spring,  with the below-freezing temps we are predicted to have in the coming week, but it is decision time for Sweet Gum Farm on placing our chick orders for the spring. We will again be offering whole organic, non-GMO Freedom Rangers for sale, and we will also be increasing our laying flock of hens for increased egg production. The broilers will be processed in mid-June but you don’t need to wait until then to try one as we still have a couple of these great-tasting chickens in the freezer from our last batch for sale. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the new “deluxe” chicken tractor that we will be building on an old travel trailer frame for the larger laying flock.

Rooster Big Boy and his Ladies
Packaged Boiler after processing