Healthy Chickens Make Healthy Eggs
How to Get Shiloh Valley Eggs
Our eggs may be purchased at the Farmers' Markets, at Good Health Market in Sheridan, or at the farm. Please check out our Egg Subscription service in order to guarantee you will be able to get Shiloh Valley eggs before they sell out!
At various times we may have the following specialty eggs and live chickens available, so just contact us if you are interested. (We do not offer butchered chicken at this time):
Fertilized eggs for hatching
Eggs for Pysanka
Cockerels (Fryers, Roasters)
How We Raise Our Chickens - Raising our flock starts with our choice of heritage breeds of chickens. We believe it is important to continue to breed and raise heritage chickens to keep these valuable farm-style varieties thriving in a world dominated by commercial breeds developed for a single purpose. Although these breeds are not as efficient as commercial egg layers, we think they are worth it. While we want good egg layers, we focus on breeds which are dual-purpose. Therefore, our cockerels are not destroyed at hatching, but live in a natural environment to later provide us with delicious, nutritious meat. We like chickens that are also good foragers, as this makes a healthier egg.
Within a few weeks of hatching, our chicks are moved onto
the grass, in what we call "Pasturemobiles" (or Mini-Chicken-Coopers).
These are bottomless, partially-roofed structures which protect the
young chicks from predators and the elements, while they are still too
young to fend for themselves. While providing security, the
pasturemobiles allow access to grass, fresh air, and sunshine. We
move the pasturemobiles to fresh ground every morning. When the
chicks are old enough, they are moved to a starter coop where they
learn to roost at night, and finally, are allowed to range freely over
Our eggs come from chickens who are truly free-range and pasture raised. They spend most of their day out on the grass, scratching and pecking as chickens were created to do. The terms "cage-free" and "free- range" are fairly meaningless terms in the world of commercially produced eggs. Cage-free chickens may never see the light of day, but are simply not kept in cages. Free-range chickens are required to be allowed access to the outdoors, but in the case of a large laying house, the amount of space outside might be more comparable to a patio. Access to the outside does not often mean access to grass. Both "cage-free" and "free-range" are improvements in the welfare of the chickens, and we applaud them. However, this does not affect the healthfulness of the eggs, nor allow the chickens to live a natural life. Rather than just having "access" to the outdoors, ours are only confined at night, in order to protect them from predators. We have found that they prefer to be outdoors in all but the very worst of weather. During the hot days of summer, we usually find them lounging in the shade of our trees.
In addition to helping themselves to all the pasture and insects they want during the warm months, the chickens are fed grain that we mix and mill ourselves. We feel strongly that we need to support local farmers, and are excited to provide a large proportion of the flock's diet from wheat and oats grown here in Sheridan. Additional grain required to provide a balanced diet is certified organic to give us confidence in how it is produced. During the winter months, the chickens are also provided access to grass/alfalfa hay.
The Bottom Line - Nutritionally Speaking
Research has shown us that chickens raised in this fashion produce healthier eggs and meat. Eggs from chickens which can eat green plants and insects can have the more beneficial ratio of one-to-one of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Mostly grain-fed hens often have a ratio of nineteen to one! Pastured eggs are rich in Vitamin A and D. Common sense would tell you that a chicken without access to sunlight isn't going to be able to put much Vitamin D into their eggs.
According to studies conducted by Mother Earth News, pastured eggs have:
- More Vitamin A
- Twice as much omega-3 fatty acids
- 3x more Vitamin E
- 7x more beta-carotene
- 3-6 times as much Vitamin D
Sally Fallon, writing in Nourishing Traditions, stated that eggs from pasture-fed chickens are "the most complete, nutritious, and economical form of animal protein available."
What About the Winter??
Just as you don't expect tomatoes produced in Sheridan in January,
our chickens slow down in the winter, too. They start a molt in the fall,
during which time they put a lot of energy into growing new feathers and
less energy into laying eggs. In winter, the cold weather and shortened daylight
affects their production as well. Our chickens do not live in a climate and
lighting-controlled layhouse, and we are proud of that! We believe they
deserve a winter break, too.
We do try to manage our new layers onset of lay to coincide with the molt
of our older layers, but this is rather more of an art than a science. So while we
do our best to continue providing eggs to our customers during the winter, we
ask that you give our "girls" the understanding that they are living beings and not
egg-producing machines. They'll gladly make it up to you in the spring!