We recommend pasture-raised chickens, who are free to forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms, and whose supplemental organic feed doesn’t contain soy, nor corn, preferably. Please note that chickens are omnivores, so we don’t recommend chickens and eggs that are labeled as “vegetarian-fed”.
Along those lines, an egg carton with the term “free-range” on it may not be a clear indication that the chickens are actually on pasture. “Cage-free” simply indicates that they chickens aren’t caged. Neither may ever see the light of day. As we point out in our educational materials, vitamins A and D will not be in eggs, butter, cream, organ meats and the fat of birds and pigs unless these animals are on pasture in the sunlight and eating green grass. As soon as animals are put in confinement, and given hay and dry feed, vitamins A and D disappear from the butterfat, and the levels begin to decline in the organ meats and eggs.
As you continue to read, we’ll address the reasons why we recommend that chicken and eggs be soy-free. Please see this article written by Raine Sanders for our Nourishing Ourselves community titled What’s the problem with corn?
Soy-free on a large scale?
I’ve been told numerous times by many providers that large scale soy-free, organic chickens or eggs is just not possible or realistic. Lazy B Ranch in Oregon has proved that theory wrong having sold 10,000 pasture-raised chickens without soy or corn in their organic supplemental feed! All the photographs included in this article are provided by the ranch.
Amanda Blakenship of Lazy B Ranch wrote the following description for our community members. All of their products exemplify the very highest quality we recommend.
Guest Author Amanda Blakenship
At Lazy B Ranch our happy laying hens spend their days on our mixed grass pastures. Our pastures are all free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. The girls love to scratch for bugs and other snacks as well as dust bathe in the sunshine. They enjoy organic raw apple cider vinegar supplementation in their water for added health benefits.
At night the girls are safe and sound roosting in one of our mobile hen houses until morning. The mobile hen houses provide them shelter from weather and predators. The houses are also home to their roll-out laying boxes. As soon as one of the girls lays an egg it rolls gently down to a collection box where it stays clean and safe until collection. Mobile houses are moved weekly to fresh grass. This benefits both the hens and our soils.
Our hens are fed a soy and corn-free feed that is made up of all organically grown ingredients. We are working towards certification of our fields this year so all of our products eventually contain the organic label. In the meantime, all of our practices are consistent with organic and often far better. We grow a majority of our own feed ingredients here at the farm. When we source from other farms we only purchase from farmers that use organic practices. Within about 2 years our farm should be growing, harvesting and milling 100% of our own feeds for all of our poultry.
It was out of necessity and desire that we began to raise our own corn and soy-free pastured poultry. I lost my mother to Multiple Sclerosis caused by food allergies. Despite the advice of her doctors, Mom chose not to change her diet. I myself began to exhibit health problems as a teenager and my siblings also suffered autoimmune reactions to food. With a family history of autoimmune disorders, I wanted to free myself and my children from the pain those futures would hold. My siblings and I did take the advice that Mom’s doctors gave.
Our family began eliminating soy from our diet 8 years ago. I was suffering mild autoimmune reactions and was searching for the cause. I eliminated gluten, soy, and most sugars from my diet in order to seek out the culprit of my stomach,skin and joint problems. In my attempt to eliminate soy I discovered the need to eliminate animal proteins that had been fed soy. This explained why chicken and eggs had been making me sick. For years now I have followed a strict gut healing diet and avoided conventionally raised foods that are grown with harmful herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fossil fuel based fertilizers. I make bone broths and an assortment of fermented foods and drinks. I wanted access to healthy proteins that would promote our health. Pastured soy-free chicken was hard to find but obviously the healthiest way to eat chicken.
My husband and I grew up in eastern Washington in the heart of a conventional agricultural community that raises wheat, barley and peas. My husband, Phil Blankenship, was raised on his family’s fourth generation conventional wheat farm. Throughout his life he has gained firsthand experience of how crops are raised and how the fields are treated. The soils are repeatedly tilled, using fossil fuels, causing the release of carbon and water. Following tillage, the soils are injected with synthetic fertilizers (derived from fossil fuels), sprayed with multiple chemicals (derived from fossil fuels) again using fossil fuels to apply. The soils are so devoid of life producing nutrients that synthetic fertilizers and micro-nutrients are necessary under the conventional approach to agriculture. In addition to all of the synthetic chemicals used to produce the crop, the harvested grains are mixed with additional pesticides to keep bugs out of the storage facilities. There is an over-dependence and abuse of chemicals and fossil fuels in conventional agriculture. Unfortunately, a lot of these chemicals end up in our rivers and oceans causing further harm in our ecosystem.
There is a belief among many people that we need conventional agriculture to feed the planet. I disagree completely. Corporate seed and chemical companies want us to believe in conventional agriculture so they can continue to profit off of hard working farmers. These unsustainable practices are harming people and the planet. My husband and I decided to put our background to good use by showing everyone that we can produce healthy foods using safe and sustainable agricultural practices. We are safely producing grains, hays, beef, chicken, turkey, duck, eggs, and lamb. We are benefiting the soils, animals, people and planet with our hands on management. By growing, harvesting, and milling our own feed we will be able to keep raising pastured soy and corn free poultry. In coming years we plan to add on-farm hatching and processing to further our independence. With customer support we will continue to expand our impact and help change the food system.
Utilizing holistic management and regenerative agriculture, our goal is to constantly improve the health of the soils as well as the diversity and abundance of life within those soils. The health of our soils, pastures, animals, and people are all interdependent. Our practices use far less fossil fuel than traditional agriculture and still produce at least an equal amount of food. Our regenerative agriculture practices include the use of no-till seeding, cover cropping, holistic planned multi-species animal grazing, pasture cropping, and composting. Our beloved animals help us sequester carbon and naturally fertilize our soils. Our soils also benefit from a healthy population of worms, bugs, fungi and other microorganisms that drive carbon sequestration. We never use any vaccines or antibiotics.
The mission at Regeneration International is: “To build a global network of farmers, scientists, businesses, activists, educators, journalists, policymakers and consumers who will promote and put into practice regenerative agriculture and land-use practices that: provide abundant, nutritious food; revitalize local economies; regenerate soil fertility and water-retention capacity; nurture biodiversity; and restore climate stability by reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time drawing down excess atmospheric carbon and sequestering it in the soil.”
How can I order?
We are always looking for more customers! We are happy to deliver to drop points around Oregon. Most areas we deliver weekly to bi-weekly. We work with restaurants, retailers, institutions, food buying clubs and directly with consumers. In the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle we offer monthly delivery. If you are outside these areas you can access our chickens, turkeys, chicken feet and chicken livers beginning in July through Azure Standard. We also plan to launch shipping from our farm to your doorstep this summer. Feel free to email me if you have any questions, comments or want to order product.
Portand, Oregon Pickup
There will be a first local drop off for eggs only in Northeast Portland, near the Kennedy School and Alberta Arts district on May 15, 2016. Pick up will be required on that day only, or possibly no later than May 16, 2016. Delivery will be every 2 weeks to every month thereafter. Eggs are 4.75 a dozen. Payment will be required in advance. [Sandrine’s note – I’ve had 5 dozen of the eggs and experienced them as delicious!] Please contact Amanda Blankenship for ordering details.
Chickens will start to be delivered in early summer for 3.75 a pound. Drop off details to be determined.
What has your experience of chickens and eggs been?