Good Feed makes for Good Eggs

You are what you eat, as they say.

We all know that a good diet is essential to good health. That’s one reason many of us eat eggs. And yet, too often, as people, we don’t always do a great job with our own nutrition, ill-advised temptations being abundant. At Pete and Gerry’s, our organic, Certified Humane, free range hens have it a little bit better. To begin with, their “treats” are finding insects in the grass. And when it comes to their main meals, they get the benefit of PhD nutritionists as their personal chefs, something few of us enjoy.

Les Morrison, of Morrison Custom Feeds in Barnet, Vermont, a Pete & Gerry’s feed supplier, puts it this way “people food is in the stone age compared to what the hens get for balanced nutrition.” Feed mixtures are developed with an eye to making sure that a hens’ every nutritional need is met in terms of nutrients, protein, sodium-balancing bi-carbonates, ground limestone for developing a strong egg shell, electrolytes and much more.

Contrast that to the giant factory farms that make most of the eggs sold today which use a “least cost formulation” for their feed. That means exactly what it sounds like ­— whatever is the cheapest way possible to give the hens enough calories to lay eggs that day. You can see and taste the result in the eggs.

There are between 30 and 35 separate organic ingredients in our feed mix. And the mixture is adjusted continuously, based on the weather (cold or hot), the flock’s age and point in their laying cycle, general health, and a range of other factors. That’s why another of our feed advisors, Heritage Poultry Management Services, employs two full-time PhD animal nutritionists on their staff.

There is a lot of science to the way we formulate our feed. But one aspect of science that you won’t find in any of our feed is pharmaceuticals ­– something you will find in just about all feed that goes to factory farms, which make up 90% of the eggs sold in the U.S. According to Morrison, that’s just putting a Band-Aid on a problem that won’t actually fix it. “The way to keep birds healthy, besides feeding them properly, is to make sure their living environment is clean and not overcrowded” he says. “Good egg farmers are in their barns every day. They can see problems before they happen, sometimes just by listening to the birds” (quiet hen houses can be an indication of a virus starting to spread through the flock).

That’s why we don’t treat our free range hens prophylactically with drugs that are only going to decrease their resistance and then wind up in the eggs. We treat them with care instead.

Morrison concludes, after admitting to a weakness for potato chips in his own diet, that if he were to die and come back as a hen, he would hope to be a Pete and Gerry’s hen.

15 responses

  1. Love your eggs and mission but wish you didn’t package the eggs in plastic!

    1. Sarah Walls says:

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us. As a values-led certified B-corporation, we are committed to people and the planet in addition to profit. We certainly do understand your concern about plastic, so we wanted to take a moment to reach out to you about why we use these cartons for our eggs.

      Plastic is often associated with negative environmental impacts, but we have chosen these cartons because they are actually better for the environment than traditional molded fiber cartons made of pulp. An independent study has shown that molded fiber cartons result in more than double the carbon footprint of our RPET cartons over their life cycle. Our RPET egg cartons approach “carbon neutral” and generate significantly less environmental impact than comparable plastic cartons.

      Our cartons are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. In many parts of the country, there’s a surplus of recycled soda bottle plastic; so each carton puts that surplus to good use. The cartons are made from the world’s most widely recycled plastic, so it is readily accepted in most recycling programs. When our plastic carton is recycled again, it’s less harmful to the environment than recycling pulp packaging–consuming far less energy, and water, with no waste or added chemicals.

      Also noteworthy is that the paper insert is also recyclable. They contain 10% of recycled fibers, and the paper we use comes from a North American paper mill that is FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council). Finally, the plastic cartons do protect the eggs better than pulp which is something our customers appreciate.

      I hope this is helpful to you, and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for reaching out to us.

  2. Pretty much the same goes for this one. Even though antibiotics are common in chicken feed, egg-laying hens rarely get medicated with antibiotics.

  3. Sheri Craggs says:

    Is your feed corn & wheat free. I have allergies and look for a safe egg to buy.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Sheri, thanks for writing. The feed that our girls get has Certified Organic Corn and Organic Soy in it. There is no wheat listed in the feed but we can’t rule out completely. Both of these ingredients are helpful in keeping our girls healthy and providing enough protein to sustain their needs. While we have not received reports of our eggs triggering an allergic reaction, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider on what is right for your needs. Thanks for the question!

  4. elizabeth earles says:

    the first time I ate pete and gerrys eggs I coule tell the difference. the problem is, now I am hooked. do you offer any kind of home delivery or a nearby egg producer for your company near Greensboro nc. I am interested in knowing.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for reaching out to us. We don’t yet have any partner farms located in the Greensboro area, but we do offer our eggs for sale there! Check out Harris Teeter, Lowes, The Fresh Market or Walmart in that area. Our egg locator page can be found at: https://peteandgerrys.com/buy-eggs/ Thank you so much for the kind words about our eggs!

  5. Sara says:

    Do you use any part of sweet potato in your feed?

    1. Sarah says:

      HI Sara, thank you for writing. We do not use sweet potato in our hens’ feed mixture. Thank you for the question!

    2. maureen peck says:

      … so glad I found your eggs today at Krogers in Commerce Twp. MI. The only problem is that they often run out of certain brands of a variety of foods that many people obviously prefer over others…. esp. organic in every sense — food, free range, non GMO or pesticides, hormones, antibiotics etc. Yours are also beautifully large although as a mother, sometimes I feel sorry for the chicken — but they ARE good! I think I saw on your site, a list of other providers besides Krogers so I shall try to see that or give you a call. Thanks for being there & giving those precious birds outside areas to peck and play. BTW, my last name is Peck :))
      :)) .

      1. Sarah says:

        Hi Maureen! We’re so glad that you found our eggs. We do find from time to time they ‘fly’ off the shelves. Perhaps a gentle nudge to the store to carry more of our eggs as well as some of the other products that you enjoy may help with this. We love your last name! 🙂

  6. Darwin Spears says:

    Do different breeds of chickens lay different standard of eggs?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Darwin! Thanks so much for the question! Different breeds of hens do lay different colors of eggs, and sometimes different sizes as well. As for the grade of eggs, that’s something that is determined by the USDA based on the standards that are set forth. Let us know if you have any other questions, we’d be happy to answer! Our email is: familyfarmteam@peteandgerrys.com Thanks!

  7. Renee says:

    I would be much more likely to purchase your eggs in the future if you chose to supplement with Cocofeed rather than corn and soy. I have read that corn and soy supplemental feed has been linked to the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in chickens to be WAY OFF. I also read that research has shown inflammatory issues develop when this ratio is way off. Do you think your company would consider this as an option in the future, for the health of myself and others?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Renee. Thanks so much for the comment, we appreciate the feedback and I’ll be glad to share this information with our team. As you may know, protein is very important for egg laying hens. The soy provides our hens with the protein they need in their diets and the corn carbohydrates. There are also a significant number of other beneficial organic nutrients and minerals in our feed that help to keep the hens healthy, such as calcium. We certainly are open to suggestions from our consumers, so I’ll make sure to pass your suggestion on to our team for consideration.

      Because we are limited by the FDA as to what we can claim on our packages, we’ve chosen not to include the Omega 3 to Omega 6 ration on our cartons specifically. Instead, we like to go by the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference to find average nutrient amounts, which we know have been scientifically derived. Our eggs typically have about 70mg of Omega-3 fatty acids but, we do not yet test for Omega-6 and, therefore, cannot provide this ratio ourselves.

      Because our hens are Free Range from numerous small family farms, nutrient values may vary slightly. While being Free Range leaves room for variability, we’ve also found this variability to be favorable to our hens’ nutrition; increasing shell thickness, yolk richness, and more. There’s a good article by Mother Earth News that discusses more of the nutritional benefits of Free Range Eggs: https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/free-range-eggs-zmaz07onzgoe. In addition, here’s a link to our website’s brief nutrient breakdown: https://peteandgerrys.com/organic-eggs/nutrition-health/. Both of these might help you get a better idea of the average nutrient breakdown for one of our eggs.

      We’d be happy to discuss this in further detail with you if you’d like to reach out to us via email at: familyfarmteam@peteandgerrys.com

      Thank you for the feedback and the questions!

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