Our feed mixtures are carefully developed to ensure that a hen's every nutritional need is met in terms of nutrients, protein, electrolytes, sodium-balancing bi-carbonates, ground limestone for developing a strong egg shell, and much more.
Words by: Family Farm Team
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 we don’t do a great job with our own nutrition or at avoiding the temptation of junk food. At Pete and Gerry’s, our organic, Certified Humane, free range hens find eating right a little bit easier. To begin with, their “treats” are finding insects in the grass. And when it comes to their main diet, they get the benefit of PhD nutritionists as their personal chefs, something few of us enjoy.
Just like us, hens’ dietary needs change with age, health, season, and a range of other factors. Because of this need for continuous adjustments to the feed mix, our farmers’ feed advisors employ PhD poultry nutritionists to carefully formulate the diets and adjust them as needed. Using these formulas, feed suppliers create the rations using high-quality organic ingredients, and deliver the feed to farms. Although our farms may use different feed mills depending on their location and other factors, each of the mills takes great pride in the quality of their feed.
“People food is in the stone age compared to what these hens get for balanced nutrition,” says Les Morrison of Morrison Custom Feeds in Barnet, Vermont, another Pete and Gerry’s feed supplier. Feed mixtures are developed with a careful eye, making sure that a hen's 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 making most of the eggs sold today, which use a “least cost formulation” for their feed. That means exactly what it sounds like — the cheapest possible feed that will give the hens enough calories to lay eggs that day. This results in a difference in quality you can both see and taste.
There is a lot of science involved in our feed formulation, but one thing you won’t find in any of our feed is pharmaceuticals – unlike nearly all feed used at factory farms, which make up 90% of the eggs sold in the U.S. According to Morrison, these pharmaceutical additives are like putting a Band-Aid on a cut that needs stitches. “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."
We're proud to use high-quality organic soybeans and corn in our hens' feed. The soy is a great source of additional protein, while the corn provides necessary carbohydrates. Although there are cheaper alternatives to corn and soy, they typically aren’t as effective and can decrease egg production and even egg size, which can pose problems both for our partner farmers and our consumers. This is why most eggs sold in grocery stores are laid by hens who eat some amount of corn and soybeans, and why soy-free feed is typically only used for small backyard flocks.
When our hens consume this supplemental feed, their bodies metabolize its nutrients, changing the protein structure into a form that is usable for them. By the time the eggs are formed, the presence of soy phytoestrogens has declined. This means that soy allergies shouldn't be a problem for anyone consuming our eggs, but if there are any concerns to this nature, we always recommend checking in with a healthcare provider before consumption.
We don’t treat our Certified Humane free range hens like they are nothing more than machines. Instead, we treat them with attentive care, give them plenty of freedom outside in the pasture and in the barn at night, and nourish them with organic feed.
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.
July 05, 2020
Hi, what percentage of their diet is insects? Thanks.
July 06, 2020
Hi Matt, thanks for asking this great question. Due to the nature and individuality of our free range hens, it's difficult to say exactly what each of our free range hens eats on a daily basis. What we can tell you is that many of our girls spend much of each day outside pecking around on organic pasture. We leave several doors to the barn open so they can go inside for fresh water, organic feed, or shelter as they choose.
May 31, 2020
Other than the insects they eat, are your hens' diets vegetarian?
June 01, 2020
Hi Karla! That's correct. Outside of the insects our hens forage for outside each day, they consume a supplemental feed that is USDA Certified Organic and 100% Vegetarian.
December 21, 2018
I see there is soy in the chickens' feed. Are there hazelnuts, peanuts or any derivatives of either in the feed?
December 22, 2018
Great question, Maya. There are no nuts of any kind or nut derivatives in our chicken feed.
December 08, 2018
I have IGg response to corn, not eggs and not soy. Yet, when I consume eggs where the hen has a diet *rich* in corn, I get sick. So, if you are to elaborate how much of the hens' diet is corn-as well as if the corn is organic vs GMO, I might be able to enjoy your eggs!
Looking forward to hearing from you!
November 15, 2018
I wish you had soy free eggs. Soy is present in most foods this days and as a cancer survivor I avoid soy at any cost even though it is highly rich in nutrients, protein and amino acids it can change hormone balance resulting in excessive production of estrogen, consequentely resulting in cancer and many other problems. The only way soy is safe to be consumed is as miso and it must be naturally fermented for at least 180 days, other then that should be avoided. Please consider selling SOY FREE eggs. Thank you
Hi Paul, although there are cheaper alternatives to corn and soy, they typically aren’t as effective and can decrease egg production and even egg size, which can pose problems both for our partner farmers and our consumers. Continuing to keep up with the latest research on soy and other feed sources is important to us, and we'll certainly be on the lookout for alternatives that fit our hens' and consumers' needs in the future.
July 23, 2020
No but really. You need to stop using soy feed. I have been buying your eggs for almost a year and you just lost my business. Good luck feeding your hens the most genetically modified food on the planet and convincing anyone your eggs are healthy.
July 24, 2020
Hi John, we certainly understand your concern and would like to reassure you that, per USDA Certified Organic standards, all of the ingredients in our hens' supplemental feed must be 100% Certified Organic and contain no GMOs. So, while much of today's soy has been genetically modified, any soy our chickens consume we can guarantee has not been. We hope this helps ease your concern.
November 11, 2018
Are there any trace of soy on the hens food supply?
November 12, 2018
Hi Faye, two of the primary ingredients in our chicken feed are organic soy and organic corn. The soy provides the hens with protein to supplement what they consume in the pasture, while the corn provides carbohydrates essential to their diets. Let us know if we can answer any follow-up questions!
October 14, 2018
What do you feed the hen exactly is any of the feed gmo
March 11, 2019
90%of corn is GMO even non GMO can become GMO from air born unless tested regularly which most are not.
October 15, 2018
Great question, Timmy! Our chicken feed is primarily made up of organic corn and soy, which provide the hens with carbohydrates and protein, both essential to their diets. All of the ingredients in our feed are USDA Certified Organic, which means they are free of GMOs and synthetic pesticides.
July 09, 2018
February 27, 2018