Frequently asked questions
1. What is the stocking density at Tamar Valley Pastured Eggs?
Our stocking density is just 950 hens per hectare, ten times less than the amount allowable for eggs labelled free range. This means that each hen has more than 10 square metres of space to cluck about in.
2. What are pastured eggs? Isn’t it just free range?
Pastured eggs is a term used by egg farmers who rotate their chickens, so they always have access to fresh areas of paddock, or pasture. Hens roaming in green grass is how many people may picture free range hens to be, but if they are not rotated they will quickly turn the grass into dust.
3. What do you feed your hens? Do they just live on what they can find?
We feed our hens a Performance Layer Pellet, to ensure they receive the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy hens. Laying eggs requires a lot of resources from a hen; we give them unrestricted access to pellets during daylight hours so they can get what they need.
We also give our girls occasional treats such as cracked corn and sprouted barley to ensure they stay healthy and happy.
4. Why are the yolks sometimes so pale? I thought orange yolks were best.
Egg yolks are very easy to manipulate by various additives that can be given to hens, such as corn, paprika and marigold. Given this, consumers have been told that yolk colour is a good way to determine hen health and whether the eggs are true free range or not. This is simply not the case. We try to minimise the additives given to our hens and so the yolk colour will vary at different times of the year. In winter especially, as the days are shorter and the grass is not actively growing, the yolks can become quite pale. The colour of the yolk does not affect the taste of the eggs; they are delicious all year around.
5. What type of hens do you keep?
Our hens are a mixed flock of traditional laying breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, Isa Browns and Australorps. We source our hens from a registered breeder in Tasmania.
6. What do you do with hens once they have finished on the farm?
We keep our hens for about 12 months and then sell them off as second year layers, mostly to people who keep chickens in their backyards. We generally sell off our birds twice a year; follow us on Facebook to find out when we have some available.
7. Where do the hens live?
Our hens live in the paddock with a chicken caravan, which is where they sleep at night time on their perches. The vans also contain the roll away nesting box system, where the girls lay their eggs. Each night, the girls put themselves to bed in the van and once the sun goes down we close the doors to keep them safe from predators. During the day, they are protected from predators by electric netting, which is commonly used in pastured egg farming.
8. Do you wash your eggs?
We use a roll away nesting box system, which ensures the eggs are kept clean and therefore they are not washed. Eggs are naturally protected by a coating called the bloom, and washing eggs removes this coating. By not washing the eggs, the bloom helps keep them fresher for longer.
9. Are your eggs organic?
Our eggs are not certified organic, however we don’t use chemicals on the farm and we don’t routinely medicate our chickens. We use pasture rotation to minimise pests and disease in our flocks and to ensure our chickens are at optimal health, naturally.