A woman called me the other day. She told me that her husband only wanted them to eat “natural” eggs, so she would like to buy some from me, since she heard that I had free-range chickens. “You don’t confine them to layer houses, do you?” she asked suspiciously.
“No, no I don’t. Layer houses can cost millions to put in. Many of our hens are free range. Those are either bantam crosses or too old to keep as layers and I don’t particularly want to eat them. Our layers are confined to pastured pens so that they aren’t consumed by foxes, possums, coyotes, raccoons, and all the other predators that like a chicken dinner.”
“Do they get organic feed?”
“Well, partly. They eat weeds which are unfertilized except by manure. They eat bugs which are organic, I suppose. They get scratch feed and oyster shells. The grain is not organic.”
“Are the eggs high in Omega 3 fatty acids?”
“I have no idea.”
“Very well. I’ll try three dozen.”
“Ma’am, my hens are not in a climate-controlled henhouse.”
“Yes, I know. That’s what we want.”
“They do not get artificial lighting.
“Yes, we like sustainable operations.”
“Hens do not like to lay eggs when the days are short, cloudy, and cold.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I won’t have eggs for sale until the days are longer and warmer.”
“When will that be?”
“Spring.” Because that is when you get natural eggs.