Frequently Asked Questions

What is pasture raised?

Pasture raised means just that—our hens are raised on ample pasture, with green hills, woodlands, and plenty of shade and water. Our birds have acres of land to roam, forage, and flap, which makes for a happy, stress free hen—and that makes for a better egg.

What’s the difference between cage free, free range, pasture raised, and organic eggs?

Cage free eggs are from hens raised in cramped barns with no access to the outdoors, often with several hens per square foot.

 

Free range hens live in similar barns, but have limited outdoor access—about 2 sq. ft. per hen, often on a cement patio or dirt lot.

 

Pasture raised means that the hens do go outdoors to graze and forage, and American Humane certifies that our hens have at least 108.9 sq. ft. of room on rotated pasture each (that’s 400 hens to an acre). With large barn doors for easy coming and going, plenty of outdoor shade, protection, and water, and protected nests indoors, they are encouraged to spread their wings and wander to their hearts’ content.

 

Organic refers to both the supplemental feed hens receive (regardless of environment) and the land on which they wander (not sprayed with harmful pesticides or herbicides and certified organic).

Do pasture raised eggs taste or look different than other eggs?

Customers frequently write us to say that Handsome Brook Farm pasture raised eggs are the best-tasting eggs they’ve ever eaten. Our chickens’ naturally healthy diet translates into brighter, orangey-yellow yolks, thicker whites, and a fresh, rich taste. Our customers have also noted superior baking performance, with lighter texture in muffins and cakes. Turns out, when you treat your hens with care and respect, they treat you well right back.

Are there any nutritional differences between pasture raised eggs and non-pastured eggs?

“You are what you eat” certainly applies to eggs. Handsome Brook Farm’s pasture raised hens have a naturally healthy diet, and this translates into a more nutritionally dense egg compared to non-pastured eggs. Studies show that pasture raised eggs have lower cholesterol and fat, more Vitamins A, D, and E, and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and carotene.

Do your eggs contain hormones or antibiotics?

No. Handsome Brook Farm’s pasture raised hens, feed, and eggs are hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Who is American Humane?

American Human is one of the oldest animal welfare certifiers in the United States. With more than 100 years of service to our animal friends, they have very high standards that they mandate all Handsome Brook farmers meet in order to be certified. All of their standards are set by a scientific advisory board comprised of experts in the fields of veterinary science, animal welfare, and sustainable agriculture. Check them out here: http://www.americanhumane.org/.

Where do you raise your hens?

We work with a network of family farms across six states from the East Coast to the Midwest. All of our farms are small, family owned, and almost all are organic.

What do your chickens eat?

We’ve worked closely with poultry nutritionists and experts in the field to formulate supplemental feed provisions that support our hens at every stage of life. These rations are primarily designed to make sure they receive enough protein and calcium to adequately support their bodies through egg production. And since we open our barn doors wide during the day and encourage our hens to move freely between their roomy indoor space and our outdoor pastures, they can also eat grass, bugs, and other natural fare.

What is in your chicken feed?

Our feed consists of corn, wheat, alfalfa, oyster shell, trace minerals, and soymeal for protein. More than 95% of our farms are entirely organic. We also have a few soy free organic farms and a few GMO-free farms.

Is there soy in your chicken feed?

Yes. A small percentage of the feed is soymeal, which is needed to supply the chickens with adequate protein for laying. We have looked into alternative protein sources, but have not yet found a non-animal source that meets our chickens’ nutritional needs. We have consulted with allergists, who have advised us that the soy protein in the soymeal is broken down inside the chicken prior to egg-laying and is not found in eggs in sufficient amounts to trigger allergic reactions in most people. Of course, if you have a medical condition regarding soy, it’s essential you consult your physician. To date, we have not received any complaints regarding a soy reaction by any of our customers. In fact, many customers who usually have reactions to eggs (due to gluten intolerance) find that they can eat ours.

What is a day in the life of a Handsome Brook Farm pasture raised chicken like?

Our chickens wake up each morning in a nice, roomy barn. Typically, they lay their eggs first thing, and then we open the big barn doors so the hens can go outside to forage about, peck at grass and bugs, socialize with each other, and lie around relaxing in the sun or shade. We provide them with covered areas and fresh water outside so they come and go as they please. Instinct tells the chickens to return to their barn to sleep at night (turns out they really do come home to roost). As it gets dark, we say goodnight and tuck them in by closing the barn doors.

What do you do when the weather is bad?

Even when the weather is bad, we open up the barn doors so any hardy souls can go outside if they wish. During severe weather like snowstorms and such, we do keep the chickens indoors for their safety. But even with the occasionally wild weather, our hens are still outside at least 300 days per year.

Do you have any special certifications?

We certainly do. Here are a few:

•      USDA Certified Organic

•      American Humane Certified

•      Paleo Certified

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