What a Foodie Farm Girl Learned on an Egg Farm
Have you ever visited an egg farm? The closest I have come to being an egg farmer was when my grandpa hatched chicks for me and we had chickens in the old chicken coop on our family farm. In a very short time frame, they were eaten by a sly fox and my cousin’s dog Daisy.
My egg farming days were over.
This week through a farm tour I was a part through my work in agriculture, I toured an enriched colony egg barn which is a part of JS West family farms.
We learned that before you enter the barn you need to put on some farm fashion.
Rockin’ farm fashion I think.
We also had to wash our feet (shoes are covered in plastic covers) and wash our hands.
We had 5th generation egg farming family members Mike West and Jill Benson as our tour guides.
They are cutting edge with technology and are also the first in the United States to build an enriched colony barn for their chickens. 151,088 chickens were in the barn when we visited. Mike knew that exactly from the numerous computer monitors that track the chickens, how much they are eating, drinking and the temperature of the barn. As Mike showed us the barn my favorite line he said was “no one cares for these chickens more than we do.”
The chickens were much more content and certainly safer than the chickens we once had on the farm that were eventually eaten by the fox and dog. They also were a lot cleaner. The barn was so clean I could have sat down and had lunch on the floor of it.
Jill has a passion for the family business and that shined as she proudly talked to us about the space the chickens in the enriched colony barn have. They like their scratching pad and prefer to be in flocks of 60 or so chickens.
But the chickens like to lay their eggs in the dark.
The chickens have unlimited access to grain with a constant conveyor of grain outside their coops.
I learned about the egg cleaning, safety and packaging. I thought it was interesting to know that a human hand never comes into contact with the eggs.
I also got to peek in at the USDA Poultry Program quality control inspector. She has been inspecting eggs on American egg farms for 18 years. Now that’s a commitment.
One of the most surprising factors was the lack of smell in the egg laying barn. Between the egg laying facilities are almond orchards and on the other side of them is a barn that the chicken manure is stored where it is then sold for organic fertilizer. Plus the almond trees love chicken manure.
JS West has “Hens Live” cameras on their website. I saw it, smiled and waved. If you happen to spend your day watching egg laying chickens online you maybe saw me?
JS West eggs are distributed under 250 labels. An egg is laid in the morning and headed to your grocery store shelf by evening.
I’ll definitely be looking differently at the eggs I buy the next time I make a family favorite like Crab Quiche, thinking of the farmers who raise the chickens that produce the eggs we love.
What’s your favorite recipe with eggs?
Great post! A couple of my friends in Holland have chicken farms and it is good to see that they do such a good job here as they do at home! I love the camera idea!!!
nice to see such a clean and well-run facility where the folks really care about care and quality. 🙂
Nice to see this post. I think egg laying farms get a bad wrap. I do love a good omelette.
Can I just say that I thank God everyday that there are farmers that are willing to go through the hard work and are dedicated to produce chickens and eggs? As a former chicken-raiser (my mom would raise 500 chicks every spring and we would prepare them each fall by hand), I would never want another chicken on my farm again…ever. The amount of work it takes is amazing. I will gladly purchase my eggs, my chicken, my egg- and chicken-products from the local grocery store, where they’ve been raised by a great farm like the one you toured. We are truly blessed to live in such a great country…and I intend to do what I can to ensure it stays that way! 🙂
~Kim at Golden Pines~ says
My husbands family were and still are farmers in Wisconsin, and I also know the hard work that goes into it–I admire those that dedicate their lives to it, and that have been able in these times to keep their farms because I know in this economy isn’t always easy.
Lisa @ Two Bears Farm says
With our hens we make a lot of egg recipes! hard to pick just one fav. Last week I posted a triple cheese broccoli puff recipe – it’s a really good one.
Thanks for your comments – on the logging. Did make me feel better!
The Wife of a Dairyman says
Katie, what a great tour! Love the farm fashion shot too:)
Favorite egg recipe…sausage frittata with some cheese mixed into the recipe as well!
Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek says
Very cool! I love seeing less common farms like this one!
Emily @Zweber Farms says
Thanks for a great post. It is fun to learn what others are doing.
Even though we are mico egg farmers (34 layers) we still have a ton of eggs!
I will make egg and cheese sandwiches for my husband ahead of time and freeze. That way I don’t have to get up at dairy farmer hours to make him breakfast. He just has to heat them in the microwave, grab a glass of milk and piece of fruit while he runs out the door.