Eggs, labor, and other thoughts

This warm spring has resulted in an egg-stravaganza.  There are more eggs on our farm than we have ever had.  We  have been able to provide eggs to local food charities as well as having plenty of eggs for new customers, old customers, and our own consumption.

We are one of a very few farms in Central Indiana that provide pastured eggs from hens that are given certified organic feed.  The organic feed is a substantial portion of the cost per egg, but I love knowing that pesticide, herbicide, and GMO free grains are going into our eggs!  It takes a bit more labor to move the chickens around pasture and to gather eggs by hand.  However, the dollars you spend on our eggs are going right back into our local economy- our feed comes from a local mill, and, of course, we hire local people to help out on the farm.  

We live in a rural area with a pretty low cost of living, but unlike many farms I do not take advantage of the reduced minimum-wage ($5.15- $5.50 per hour!) that the IRS allows agricultural businesses to use.  For one thing, my employees have to drive several miles to come to work.  I prefer to treat folks fairly and pay them something for their time.   

If you have a strong stomach, The New York Times has another article talking about the hideous nature of commercial egg production.  It’s the usual- dead hens, rodents, ammonia fumes, and salmonella.

I really take issue with the producer in this article stating that the other hens “don’t notice” when dead birds are laying around.  On our farm, occasionally a hen is killed by a predator, dies of natural causes or illness, or meets with an unfortunate accident.  The other hens DO notice this, and if the hen dies in the henhouse, will usually avoid going into the henhouse.  The difference?  My hens have outdoor access 100% of the year and get moved frequently to new locations. They do not HAVE to stay next to dead birds.  And, since we are not raising millions of birds at a time, we are able to notice and quickly remove any birds that are sick or dead!



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