Tag Archives: laying hens

Pasture Raised Eggs vs Commercial Eggs

Pasture Raised Eggs vs Commercial Eggs

which would you rather feed your family?

 

Pasture raised eggs come from chickens that live a more natural life. They are free to roam the farm doing what chickens do. They have access to multiple watering stations and they have a safe roost to come back to each night. Our pasture raised chickens share three nest boxes in which they take turns laying their eggs.

The pasture raised hens also have access to an abundant supply of supplemental feed. This gives them the balanced diet they need to produce healthy eggs and live a long productive life.

Commercial laying hens, on the other hand, do not enjoy fresh air, sunlight, and room to roam. In fact, their living conditions are abysmal at best. Watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean. These conditions are more like a civil war era prisoner of war camp then a farm producing food for human consumption. When you buy eggs at the grocery store, you are supporting these conditions.

Don’t buy eggs from Costco, Walmart, or Sams Club. Find a local producer who is raising hens in a more sustainable fashion. Pasture raised  vs commercial eggs, there really is no comparison in the quality of the hen’s life, or in the quality of the eggs you’ll feed your family.

Be wary of misleading labels on commercial eggs. Here’s what the words they use really mean according to an article published by NPR (click this to read the entire NPR article or read my summary below):

Farm Fresh

What It Actually Means: “It literally means nothing,” says Paul Shapiro, vice president of the Humane Society of the U.S. and an expert on commercial egg production. He says the term is probably meant to conjure up a favorable image in the consumer’s mind, but it has no substance whatsoever.

All Natural

What It Actually Means: Once again, this phrase has no real meaning. Shapiro says it’s an ironic term, too, “because [conventional chickens] are raised in the least natural conditions imaginable.”

Cage-Free

What It Actually Means: Exactly what it sounds like: The hens don’t live in cages. But they don’t live in bucolic red barns, either. They usually live in aviaries: massive industrial barns that house thousands of birds. Each bird has, on average, 1 square foot of space.

No Hormones

What It Actually Means: This term is rather misleading, because it’s illegal to give hormones to poultry, and no large-scale farms in the U.S. do so. It’s like putting a label on a cereal box that says, “No toxic waste.”

No Antibiotics

What It Actually Means: Once again, this is a somewhat misleading term because antibiotics are rarely used in the egg industry. Chickens that are raised for their meat, on the other hand, do commonly get antibiotics to fend off disease and increase animal growth.

Free-Range

What It Actually Means; Free-range means cage-free plus “access to the outdoors.” But as Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute notes, this “access” typically means a few small doors that lead to a screened-in porch with cement, dirt or a modicum of grass. And often, Kastel says, industrial fans that suck ammonia out of the building create “hurricane winds” through the small doorways, “and the birds don’t really want to walk through that.”

The vast majority of free-range birds in commercial egg facilities never actually go outside. So in most cases, free-range means the same thing as cage-free. Unlike in poultry production, there’s no government oversight of the term “free range” when it comes to eggs, so companies can more or less interpret it as they see fit.

Vegetarian Diet

What It Actually Means: This is perhaps the most confusing claim because chickens are not vegetarian. They’re omnivores that, in the wild, get most of their protein from worms, grasshoppers and other insects. Hens that are fed a “vegetarian diet” are probably eating corn fortified with amino acids.

Omega-3

What It Actually Means: The hens are probably given a bit of flaxseed mixed in with their corn feed, possibly leading to higher levels of omega-3s in their eggs.

Organic

What It Actually Means: “Organic” actually means something very specific, and egg producers who use it are subject to USDA regulation. Organic eggs must come from chickens that are free-range (cage-free plus access to the outdoors), fed organic feed (no synthetic pesticides) and receive no hormones or antibiotics.

But as was the case with “free-range” eggs, Kastel says, “organic” eggs are usually coming from birds that live in crowded, industrial aviaries. His organization has created an egg scorecard that rates organic egg farms on a much wider variety of factors.

Pasture-Raised

What It Actually Means: In terms of replicating chickens’ natural environment and way of life, pasture-raised is pretty much the gold standard. Pasture-raised birds spend most of their life outdoors, with a fair amount of space plus access to a barn. Many are able to eat a diet of worms, insects, and grass, along with corn feed (which may or may not be organic).

If you want to read the entire article at NPR here is the link

farm-fresh-natural-eggs-not-always-what-they-re-cracked-up-to-be

How to Make an Automatic Chicken Watering System

An Automatic Chicken Watering System

You Can Make

In an earlier post, I wrote about making a 5-gallon chicken watering system to provide clean water to your yard birds without having to fill it every day. Today I’m going to show you how to modify that system to make it so you will never have to manually fill it again.

Summer is here and with higher temperatures, my chickens have been drinking a lot more water. The 5-gallon system was sufficient in cooler weather, but now I am finding I have to refill it several times a week. With this modification, I won’t have to manually fill it again. I’ll probably take it down in September to give it a good cleaning, but other than that it should be maintenance free.

Automatic Chicken Watering System
Automatic Chicken Watering System Finished

To make this system, you will need a couple of tools and a couple of parts.

Tools:

  • Electric drill
  • 7/8th inch drill bit
  • 1/2in or 3/4 in garden hose

Parts:

Take the lid off the 5-gallon chicken watering system. If you haven’t made that yet – click here for my post on how to make one.

Automatic Chicken Watering System
5-gallon bucket with 7/8th hole ready for installation of the float

With the lid off, drill a 7/8th-inch hole in the side in line with the handle and far enough down to allow the float valve to open and close the valve.

 

 

Use Teflon plumber’s tape to secure all of the threads on the float valve, hose adapter, and hose. If you don’t do this, you will have a leak.

Automatic Chicken Watering System
Float Valve installed

Position the float so that when the water level is up the valve shuts off. This will keep about 4 gallons of water in your 5 gallon bucket at all times.

 

 

Replace the lid and you are ready to hang the bucket in your coup or in a shady spot if you free range your chickens.

Automatic Chicken Watering System
Hose Connection

Attach the hose and turn on the water. If you have a long hose from the house or well, you may want to bury it to prevent the water from getting too hot while it is sitting in the hose.

How to Make a 5 Gallon Poultry Waterer

How to Make a 5 Gallon Poultry Waterer   I thought I would provide some more details on how to make a 5-gallon poultry waterer like the one I showed in my Tips for Raising Chickens post. To make the 5 gallon poultry waterer you will need: 5 Gallon food grade bucket with …

How to Make a 5 Gallon Poultry Waterer

How to Make a 5 Gallon Poultry Waterer

 

I thought I would provide some more details on how to make a 5 gallon poultry waterer like the one I showed in my Tips for Raising Chickens post.

To make the 5 gallon poultry waterer you will need:

  • 5 Gallon food grade bucket with lid
  • 4 Water Nipples
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Crescent Wrench
  • 10mm threading bolt

You can get the 5 gallon bucket with lid from Lowes. you might be able to get one free from a local restaurant if you ask nicely. The water nipples are really inexpensive, I got mine from Amazon for about $5 for ten of them. Here’s the link Topicker Brand New Poultry Water Nipples 10 Pcs+ 1 Threaded bolt. Sanitary Water for up to 30 Chickens, Turkeys, Geese or Ducks. The reason I chose this vendor is because it included the 10mm bolt and with Amazon prime, shipping was free. You might be able to find these parts at Tractor Supply or other feed stores in your area.

Here is a video of my chickens enjoying the fresh clean water provided by this 5 gallon poultry waterer. This really is the best way to water your flock.

This really is easy to make. If you don’t have the tools, or are just not inclined to make your own, you can buy a completely assembled 5 gallon poultry waterer for about $40

5 gallon water
Ready Made 5 Gallon Waterer

This is about the same or less than you would pay for a 5 gallon watering container of the traditional style. As I mentioned in my other post, those just don’t keep the water clean and they are a pain to refill. I think you and your chickens will be much happier with this style watering system. Especially if you live in an area where it freezes. Traditional watering systems are difficult to keep from freezing. This system, on the other hand, can be protected with a simple aquarium heater.

 

If you decide to make one of these or buy one, let me know what you think about it.