Ethical Eggs – How we raise our hens
Our farming system includes mobile sheds that house relatively small flocks.
We have mobile French chalets that are on skids. We move them across the paddock with a mini-bulldozer. Inside the hens have food, water and their nests. There are 1200-1300 hens in each chalet. Because the flocks are small the hens can come and go from the chalets very easily. It is a place for them to sleep and to lay an egg. Sometimes if it rains they go inside. Essentially the hens live outside. The eggmobiles and chalets are moved across the paddock so the impact of the hens on the pasture is minimised. In fact their manure regenerates the soil and we get amazing pasture growth, which the cows and sheep love to eat too. This also allows us to rest certain parts of the paddock and therefore help the grass to grow more vigorously.
We have called our eggs ethical eggs because we believe we are raising our hens in way that allows them to do all the things that hens love to do. To understand what makes a management system ethical, we believe we need to look at the ability of the hen to express its innate behaviours, to express its true chickeness! We believe there are five main behaviours that make a chicken happy.
First, hens love to forage. They spend most of their day voraciously scratching for bugs, worms, seeds, anything tasty hiding under the mulch or in the soil.
Second, hens love to dustbathe everyday. The dust helps them keep away any parasites that crawl under their feathers. In the paddock there are many places where the hens dustbathe. They create sometimes quite large holes full of lose soil which they then immerse themselves in.
Third, hens love to roost. As their wild ancestors came from the jungles of South America, it is no wonder they are happiest high up in a tree or on the top perch. We provide perches so they can rest there in the day and sleep there at night.
Fourth, hens love to sun themselves. As they stretch out one leg and its wing, the excess heat dislodges feather parasites and allows the hen to remove it when preening.
Lastly, hens will seek out a dark secluded spot to make themselves a nest and lay their eggs.