“What is the difference between hatching eggs and eating eggs?” A friend asked Sarah and I this most eggs-cellent question recently while we were hanging some flyers for our farm.
This is a great question. Producing eating eggs is pretty straightforward: eggs laid, eggs eaten. Far more goes into the production and selection of a hatching egg.
I thought I'd share some of the differences here. When we produce hatching eggs, we pay careful attention to:
Freshness: Eating eggs last for weeks, but a hatching egg should be a week old, max, when placed in the incubator. This week includes collection, shipping, and at least a day of rest after shipping.
A few months ago, one of our Marans hens, Mollie, suffered an impacted crop. We performed an at-home surgery for her, which went incredibly well. After a few weeks of rest and recuperation in our house, Mollie started laying eggs again--a clear sign that she'd made a full recovery!
While we would miss her company, we knew it was time to move Mollie back outside. Since we don't breed birds that experience any kind of illness, this meant integrating Mollie into our laying flock, a new group for her.
Integrating or re-integrating a chicken into a flock should be done with care and planning, in order to reduce stress on all birds involved. Below are our best practices for introducing or returning a chicken to a larger group.
Why buy straight run? Here's some straight talk on straight run, the sexing of chicks, and the common poultry industry practice of killing male chicks at hatch.
On our farm, all male chicks are grown out into beautiful roosters and have the opportunity to lead a quality life. At maturity, our extra boys are swiftly and respectfully processed. We often have friends and family over to help us with this, so that others may practice harvesting their own meat. It’s a powerful experience that has both challenged us and gifted us a completely new relationship with our food.
On our farm, humanely raised, pastured meat is a natural byproduct of producing hatching eggs and chicks. Because we are such a small farm, it’s easy for us to absorb our extra roosters, adding them to our freezer or sharing them with friends and family. But what happens in large scale hatcheries?