conway washington is in the heart of the fertile skagit valley (known for tulips, berries and scandinavian farmers). a few years back i asked the lady at the conway feed mill for prices of chicken layer pellets, organic vs regular. she paused, raised one eye brow and said "$10.60 pellets, $19.50 organic pellets." another pause while i pondered this price difference and she pondered 'how much of a idiot is this guy?' she seemed pleased/relieved when i asked for 20 bags of regular. she then explained...
the organic feed is trucked in 1600 miles from central canada. conway feed mills the regular pellets on site with %80 of the ingredients coming from local skagit valley farms. "the other %20 is corn from Anderson's brothers farm in south dakota. no monsanto stuff either. Pete's using the same seed stock his family's been for 200 years."
i'm not sure how many hens we have. maybe 25, so lots of extra eggs even though we as a family eat a lot of eggs. perhaps a reaction to being brought up in the 1970's when eggs were not in the healthful vogue. (back then my Oma and Opa were so far out in left field they ate egg whites and discarded the yolks.) our extra eggs we sell out of a cooler at the top of the driveway for $5/dozen. i can say we have perhaps the best eggs on the island because it's true. our hens are free to meander our whole farm during the day. most folks can't do this because of predation. eagles, hawk, raccoon, fox, weasel, mink, ferret. i know because i've had to deal with each one over the years. the key to being able to truly free range your chickens is lots of open pasture (with no hiding spots for lurking fox etc) and well trained dogs. varmint don't like dogs. hence the dogs are on duty 24/7.
when chickens have 25 acres of pasture to scrounge around on their eggs get tastier and more yellow with very dense shells. they love to eat greens, bugs, worms, small snakes, dirt. the golden yellow yolk can be achieved with fenced chickens by adding cracked corn to the diet but the taste of true free range chicken eggs can't be achieved without lots of time on the pasture.