Published 21 November 12
Animals, Critters & Beasties , Community Supported Agriculture , Food
Tags: certified organic, chicken tractors, chickens, Cornucopia Institute, CSA, eggs, organic eggs, Rachel's eggs
The Cornucopia Institute recently updated their Organic Egg Scorecard. Our certified organic Rachel’s Eggs have been ranked 4th among over 120 farms across the nation, with 2160 of a possible 2200 points and a “5-egg” rating (2001-2200): “Exemplary”—Beyond Organic!
Here’s the link to their latest report; http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg-scorecard/
click here to see OUR scorecard, with 100 points in 19 of 22 categories!
Our assortment of heritage breed hens rotate around our farm’s avocado grove in their chicken tractors, a bottomless pen designed to keep them safe from predators. They’re moved at least twice a week to fresh pasture, where they scratch around for goodies. They’re supplemented with certified organic, soy-free, non-GMO feed. During the wintertime, our eggs are snapped up as add-on egg shares by our CSA members, with a waiting list. Between mid-April and October, when the CSA isn’t operating, anyone can purchase our eggs though our ‘summer offers’ program.
Our other local organic egg producer, PNS Farms, who we mentored a few years back, has a 5 rating as well, with 2120 points out of 2200. Our CSA members also enjoy their eggs.
All around the farm in Homestead and the Redland area it is full of groves, primarily Avocado groves, but also Mango and a few other tropical fruit. 99% of them are not organic and use herbicides to keep the weeds down under the trees and in the pathways. As you drive around the area you can see block after block of fenced in groves with brown deadness underneath them. All I can think is what a waste of space and what a shame that they are regularly putting down hundreds of pounds of chemicals into the ground and into the aquifer that all of our farms depend on.
chicken tractors in between avocado trees at Bee Heaven Farm
Chickens and groves are like peas and carrots. There is plenty of research, experience and literature supporting the many facets of the symbiotic relationship between these two enterprises. At Bee Heaven Farm we have 10 chicken tractors fertilizing and mowing our 2 acres of Avocado groves while simultaneously laying eggs for us to sell. Inside each tractor, which is basically a bottomless metal chicken coop with wheels, live 7 to 10 chickens. They get moved to a fresh patch of grass twice a week making their way down the pathways between rows of Avocado trees (and in
mowed and fertilized path left behind as the tractor is moved
some sections Mango, Longan and Lychee trees). This system works very well for many reasons. It is very easy and quick to maintain; it takes only a few minutes to refill feed and water as well as move each one. The chickens are laying delicious/nutritious eggs with bright and firm yolks because they get a daily diet of grass and bugs along with their organic feed. As the tractors are moved along they leave behind a weed free path and the chicken manure that is also left behind serves as a balanced fertilizer for the fruit trees. Using this system a farmer can produce two different products to sell on the same acreage.
In my opinion, all of the conventional groves in the area could be raising eggs or chicken meat using this system and instead of spending money on chemicals they could be making twice as much money on the same amount of land.