Our laying hens fondly called Henny Penny & the Cluckers spend their days happily browsing on our fields. Their diet consists of Certified Organic layer mash, chicken scratch an assortment of bugs, worms and whatever other earthly delights they can scratch from the field, along with ground oyster shells to round out the menu. The contented hens spend their evening in the portable chicken house. It has ample natural light from lots of windows, cedar branches for roosts and cozy straw filled nest boxes. The roosters would appear to have a care free go lucky life; however they are always on guard warning their flock of ladies if danger appears to be near. A morning would just not be right without this natural alarm clock. Not a cage in sight for this lucky flock. Our laying hens have 5 acres to roam free.
egg supplier story
Terra Nossa, a 26 acre family farm run by Jesse, Evelyn & Jay Pereira is proud to be one of the farms supplying eggs to the Community Farm Store and the Corefield Bakery. Our farm is in the transition phase of organic certification, meaning all of our farming practices are 100% Certified Organic. This includes certified organic feed (no GMO’s, hormones, medications, or antibiotics in the feed), and no chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides are used on the crops or pastures.
Our purpose of getting a flock of laying hens was twofold. We wanted a supply of eggs for ourselves and we were looking for some weed control for our 5 acre Echinacea field. We ordered 99 laying hens, which is the maximum amount allowed for a farm without quota; another gov’t regulation holding back small scale farms. The hens were point of lay hens, meaning they were 16 weeks of age. They arrived on Tuesday, March 10 and the first eggs were laid on Saturday, March 14. We were so excited. The first eggs were small ones, called peewees, which took about 6 weeks to progress to a marketable size. So what does a family of 5 do with 99 eggs per day? After meeting with Nicolette, Terra Nossa became part of the egg supplier team for the Community Farm Store.
Our flock of laying hens are happily spending the spring and summer with total run of the Echinacea field. Unfortunately, the disadvantage is that the eagles have had a free meal or two.
A typical day of caring for the hens starts at 7:00 am. Evelyn goes out to give them their morning rations. By 9:00am the hens are usually done laying the eggs. They are then let out of their house to spend the day browsing the field. The eggs are washed with water, air dried, sorted by weight, and then refrigerated. They are given a mid-day snack and another feeding in the evening. At dusk, they all head back into the safety of the portable hen house for the night. Sounds just like raising children, doesn’t it?
Our hen house is designed with the nest boxes inside. This way we have lots of contact and interaction with the hens. They have become very friendly and docile. There is no worry of being pecked by a mean hen when reaching into the nest boxes to collect the eggs. Instead, it feels very natural and comforting as she is cooing over her achievement. Plenty of contact also gives us the opportunity to observe the hens for signs of stress or problems. Organic regulations require you to have one rooster for every 25 hens. To try to get some roosters into the flock we ordered a batch of 35 mixed heritage baby chicks. Wow, they have grown up into some spectacular and unique looking chickens. There are some sassy, silky, fluffy white tufted ones, some smooth shiny black ones decked out in bedroom slippers and boas; black and brown ones wearing layers of gold jewellery. A beautiful assortment, but alas all but 2 are hens; only 2 roosters in the whole bunch. So we still need to get 4 more roosters to complete our flock.