Thursday 24 September 2015

More "real free range eggs" needed

Design by Rachael
My lambs averaged  £42 a head in the mart last week, that's about what it costs to feed them, house them, dose them, inject them and get them to the market. The one enterprise that does leave a margin is the hens, visitors can't get enough of their " real free range eggs".  An hour after I put them out in the roadside box they are gone and people are soon back for more.

You will never get a fresher, tastier more brightly coloured egg. This is almost entirely because  my hens are truly free range . They scratch and hunt in the midden, along the roadside, in the grass, inside  the buildings when its raining and in the shrubbery that simulates the S. Indian jungle where they evolved. Worms, insects, seeds, leaves add to their scientifically formulated layers pellets. I have even seen one swallow a whole mouse.

Supermarket free range eggs  take much longer to get to you, about 10 days and  are produced by hens living under a regime that regulates how many can be kept in one house, the minimum floor space and outside grazing which is usually a short cropped grass field which isn't very interesting to a hen. Mine also have a choice of nesting sites, from the goat's hay rack, to tunnels under bale stacks in the big shed and the nest boxes provided for them , choice makes them  happy I think.

There's also the company of a handsome, randy French male
Demand is high from Easter until September when the visitors are fewer and the hens begin to moult, the days shorten and the temperature falls. Production picks up again in mid February and peaks in March before the visitors arrive.  The plan for next year is to buy some "point of lay" pullets in the Spring to supplement the La Bresse hens whose main jobs are hatching egg production and traffic calming. 

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