QUESTIONS WE ARE OFTEN ASKED AT RED MOUNTAIN EGG FARM
"Are the hens at Red Mountain Egg Farm fed a strict vegetable diet?"
Because our hens are not caged but roam their large out-door pen freely, they eat bugs and worms as well as seeds and other vegetable matter in addition to their commercial feed. Such a naturally-supplemented, varied diet is part of what makes our eggs superior to what's normally sold in grocery stores. It is such a varied diet that helps make them be such a natural food. Chickens are not naturally strict-vegetarians.
"Are eggs from Red Mountain Egg Farm organic?"
"Organic" is a certification term granted by government agencies. We are not so certified by the government and do not claim our eggs are "organic".
"Are Red Mountain eggs high on Omega-3 acids?"
The pasturing of hens (ours are pen-raised) will generally encourage a higher level of omega-3 acids in the eggs. However, the vast proportion of egg-producers (I won't call them farmers) that claim their eggs are high in omega-3 acids feed their hens such supplements as kelp (sea-weed) or flax seed. Feeding sea-weed to chickens seems a little weird to me and as far as flax-seed goes, nutrition guru John Robbins asks why one should run such seed through the chicken. Why not, Robbins asks, just eat the flax-seed ourselves. That's what we do at the Mackey house. We make no claims our eggs are high in omega-3 acids.
"Why are Red Mountain eggs better?"
At Red Mountain Egg Farm we provide a natural lifestyle for the laying hen with the protection of the chicken house and pen. Our hens eat and drink at will. They are never forrcibly kept in the chicken house. There are no battery of cages. Within this natural/farm environment they experience the changing seasons, breathe lots of good, fresh air, and interact with the other hens.
This may seem silly, but I personally think that the fact the birds are able to socialize with one another may improve the quality of their eggs. It certainly must improve the quality of their short lives.
Mostly, though, what makes our eggs better is that they are indeed fresh. The eggs delivered to your house by Red Mountain Egg Farm are truly fresh, no more than a couple of days old. Store-bought eggs sometimes are three or more weeks old before they ever get to the retail-market.
The egg yolk tells the story. Crack open a store-bought egg into a frying pan and one of Red Mountain's next to it. Note that the color of the yolk of the Red Mountain egg is a deeper yellow, the color difference mostly comes from our birds' more varied diet. Then notice that the yolk of the Red Mountain egg stands up more from the egg-white. This is the mark of freshness. As an egg gets older, the yolk will lie flatter and flatter against the egg-white.
Now taste the eggs--side by side. What a difference!
"You seem truly interested in the welfare of your chickens. Are you and your wife animal rights people? Are you ovo-vegetarians?"
I not only like chickens for the eggs they produce, I like chickens fried, as well. But just because a creature is bred and farmed for food production does not mean it should be treated cruelly. Being concerned about an animal's well-being is not about animal rights. It is about people's responsibility to take care of a creature that gives us sustenance.
"What happens to Red Mountain chickens when they no longer lay well?"
Proper farm management requires that hens be replaced when they no longer are efficient layers. Red Mountain Farm's goal is a laying rate of 90% or higher, meaning that each of our hens on average will lay an egg nine days out of ten. Because many of our birds lay at rates as high as 95% or higher, our birds are usually kept until their production rate drops as low as 80% or 85%.
By the time the hen is about 2 1/2 years old she is no longer an efficient layer and we retire her. We offer the hens to others (Craigslist, etc) for a nominal charge. Because our layers have been handled by us when they were young, they generally make nice, gentle pets and, of course, they still lay eggs, just not efficiently enough for the farm.
If they are not otherwise found a home, they can be, and are, eaten. Remember, our hens are bred and raised for food-production.
"What breed(s) of chickens are Red Mountain layers?"
The vast majority of the layers at Red Mountain Egg Farm are golden sex-link hens with the trade-marked names of Bovan and ISA-brown. Both the Bovans and the ISA-browns are reddish-brown in color and normally lay a nice, large egg with a brown shell. In their prime, these hybrids lay at about a 97% rate. (A sex-link is a hybrid developed so that at hatching the pullets-females-are a different color from the males-cockerels. Sexing is more easily done.)
We also have some Australorps. These are our most attractive layers. They are a nice black color. In the bright sunlight you can see green high-lights. Like the Bovans they are very good layers, though their eggs are not quite as large on average and the color of their eggs shells is not usually as dark. Both the Bovans and Australorps are very gentle birds which is appreciated by this farmer.
We also currently have a dozen white leghorn hens that produce large white eggs for our customers who prefer white eggs. Leghorns are a very old breed, some two thousand years old. They're great producers but are somewhat obnoxious in their personality.
"Does Red Mountain Egg Farm operate a hatchery or breed chickens?"
No. We purchase our hens as day-old chicks from professional hatcheries. Our work is fairly narrow in its focus. We raise chickens to provide the best eggs for our residential customers.
Does Red Mountain Egg Farm sell eggs to restaurants or grocery stores?"
Our license from the state of Washington certainly permits us to sell to both stores and restaurants. And while we do sell to restaurants in our regular delivery areas, we do not sell to grocery outlets at this time.
"Can we return your cartons to you so you can use them again?"
For sanitation sake, the state of Washington does not permit the re-use of egg-cartons by its licensed egg sellers, of which we are one. We not only respect this rule we agree with it. We also appreciate that so many folks today want to reuse and recycle whenever and wherever possible. For that reason we use the paper cartons that we do. They themselves are made of recycled paper and can again be recycled by a paper recycler.