If you have a question about our eggs, small flocks, or green, grassy farms, we may have an answer for you. Peruse our most frequently asked questions below to learn more about Carol’s Eggs.
What’s the difference between cage-free and free range or pasture-raised eggs?
“Cage-free” is a somewhat misleading term in the industry. It does mean that hens are not confined to the very inhumane “battery” cages that still dominate the industry. But some of these same egg producers have recently converted a percentage of their production to cage free in order to capture the growth and higher price there. They have not, however, made changes to either their practices or beliefs when it comes to animal welfare. The birds are still confined to large metal floor to ceiling enclosures in massive warehouses that can house hundreds of thousands of birds. The birds have a little more freedom of movement than they would in cages, but in no way can they exhibit their natural behaviors or venture outdoors.
In stark contrast, Carol’s offers two different standards, both of which are Certified Humane and reflect how much we value treating our small flocks with respect and care:
Free range – These flocks have full access to pasture in good weather and spacious floor barns, as well as continuous access to fresh water, nesting boxes, scratching areas, and space for dust bathing. Our heirloom eggs all come from these free range flocks.
Pasture-raised – These flocks live further south and have year round access to even larger pasture spaces than free range, along with all of the same barn conditions and outdoor shade structures. Our pasture-raised and organic pasture-raised eggs come from these flocks.
Are all Carol’s Eggs pasture-raised?
No; we offer free range eggs as well. Our free range farms are Certified Humane and held to high standards that guarantee the welfare of our flocks.
Why aren’t your heirloom eggs pasture-raised?
We’re enthusiastic about the wonderful approach our farmers take to producing our pasture-raised eggs, but the substantial time and labor required to manage a pasture-raising system can add to the cost significantly. Because heirloom eggs are already more costly to produce since they come from prized heirloom birds, choosing free range space requirements over pasture-raised helps us keep the cost of a carton affordable.
Additionally, to be pasture-raised, flocks must have year-round access to pasture, and this unfortunately is not possible in northern states. We still want to support farmers and farm communities up North, and we believe that the short time the hens spend inside our spacious free range barns during the coldest winter months is an acceptable trade off. The standards that we follow for our heirloom flocks are still widely considered to be among the very best in the industry.
Your eggs are labeled “Certified Humane.” What does that mean?
Certified Humane® is a program from Humane Farm Animal Care, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve animal welfare. It’s widely known as the “gold standard” of farm animal care certification.
Our Certified Humane® labels require our farms to be regularly inspected to meet all HFAC’s rigorous standards. They’re your assurance that our hens always have ample space and shelter in clean, well-ventilated barns, with safe outdoor access. They’re handled gently to minimize stress and have plenty of freedom to engage in their natural behaviors like roosting, scratching, and dust-bathing. Above all, we’re committed to the welfare of our hens.
What do your hens eat?
Our heirloom hens enjoy nutritionally balanced feed that contains whole cereal grains like corn, soybeans, marigold petals, alfalfa grasses, and naturally omega-3-rich flaxseed. They have access to clean, fresh, filtered water whenever they need it. And finally, they can forage for insects, flowers, and other delights in the pasture.
The feed available to our organic pasture-raised hens is similar, but also Certified Organic. The hens also forage on organic pasture daily, so they also get a nutritious boost from the plants, bugs, worms, and grubs they find there.
We also offer non-organic pasture-raised eggs. The feed has the same rich mix of nutrition as all our hens get but the corn, soy, and other grains are not Certified Organic or GMO free. This helps lower the cost to consumers while still providing them an excellent egg.
Do pasture-raised eggs taste different from regular eggs?
Most folks say pasture-raised egg tend to have a deeper and more vibrant flavor when compared with other eggs. The flavor can also vary a bit, depending on the time of year. The pasture’s vegetation—and the insects, worms, and grubs that live in it—changes with the season, so part of the hens’ diet will, too, and you might taste a difference in the yolks over the course of the year.
Yolk color can also change seasonally, thanks to plant pigments called carotenoids, which are found in dark leafy greens, grasses and weeds like dandelions. Carotenoids can give yolks a deeper orange-yellow color and are natural heart-healthy antioxidants.
How do heirloom eggs taste?
Folks who grew up on farms tell us that our heirloom eggs “taste like eggs used to taste” with a full, rich character they remember fondly from their childhoods. They lament that most supermarket eggs these days “don’t have much flavor at all.”
That’s because in the old days, farmers chose heirloom breeds that were best adapted to the local climate and landscape. They made these deliberate and thoughtful choices to produce the highest quality, best-tasting eggs. Nowadays, factory farms look for breeds that will give them the most eggs and the fastest production with the cheapest possible inputs, such as diet and space. The difference is night and day.
Why do you have barns if you provide pasture for the hens?
Hens naturally prefer to go indoors at night because they know that’s where they’re safest from predators. It’s a smart instinct, since some of the most menacing predators—like foxes, coyotes, wolves, and owls—are active after dusk. One of the most amazing things to see on our farms is an entire flock making a sudden dash for the barn doors when a mere shadow of a hawk crosses over their pasture. To say they have a keen sense of predator awareness is putting it mildly.
Having a safe haven is even more important for the flocks that experience our Northeastern winters. A warm barn is a must on cold, wet and snowy days. As much as they love hunting and pecking in the grass, our hens are happiest knowing there’s a safe, comfortable perch waiting for them nearby in their barn.