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Harvest Haven chickens start their day with a burst of enthusiasm the moment the door opens on the hen house. Prepared for them is a feast of their favorite freshly picked greens in season, organic feed mixed on the farm and Grander Living Water. Occasionally, they even get fresh cow's milk.

Every day is a new adventure out in the sunshine and fresh air, busily scratching around in the dirt, as chickens should.

Around 11 o'clock in the morning, the hens begin their daily routine of laying eggs. Because roosters run with the hens, the eggs are fertilized, which some say is healthier for us. (It is certainly healthier for the hens as roosters watch for and warn of predators!)  

Harvest Haven eggs are good not only because of what goes into the chickens, but also because of what does not. Our chickens are raised without any vaccinations, antibiotics or hormones. Here is a write-up we shared in our newsletter. 

Harvest Haven Certified Eggs

Egg production is perhaps the clearest contrast between conventional, certified organic, and Harvest Haven Certified.


The most horrific display of conventional agriculture I’ve ever seen was in the barns of the Coaldale Egg Farm when I was 15 years old. My brother and I saw an ad for “moving chickens” in the paper, so we thought we would give farming a try.

The stench was shocking. The birds were five to a cage that was little bigger than a large breadbox. These cages were stacked with the birds at the bottom getting covered in feces.

The hens were so cramped that aggression was fierce. Only the dominant birds had any feathers remaining. Many were wounded and bloody.

The eggs they laid rolled out of the sloped cages onto a conveyor that carried them to the front of the barn, where a very sad-looking woman was prewashing the filthy eggs with a bleach solution. The “wash” water was brown.

Our job was to tear the birds out of the cages through small hatches which often broke their wings. Five squawking birds to a hand, we were instructed to toss them into a grinder that mulched them up and conveyed them into a dump truck. Any birds that escaped, drowned in the manure lagoons underneath the cages, after the workers pushed them under with their feet. It was a concentration camp for chickens.

Is it any wonder the amount of antibiotics required to keep these birds alive?
We went home reeking of ammonia, with the claw marks of desperate birds on our arms.

This was where “local farm fresh eggs” were coming from. They were coming from hell. It’s impossible anyone was nourished by those eggs. That day left a permanent mark on me. What was happening on that farm was pure evil.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that this is the norm for conventional egg operations. I’m sure that it isn’t. However, consider that this farm was a government inspected facility. The way these animals were treated was not illegal. It seems unlikely (at least I can only hope) that many of these farms exist, but it should trouble you that basic morality is not enforced in the agricultural world, if even required. If any house pet was treated like this, it would be in the national news. Why is it okay to treat a chicken this way?

I don’t think I even need to discuss the toxicity level of the food these chickens are eating, which toxins people consume.

Certified Organic

Certified Organic is a whole lot better. The organic certification does not allow caging the birds, the use of antibiotics or other toxic chemicals. It also requires that the birds have certified organic food and access to an outdoor range.

However, here again is my problem with minimum requirements. I’ve visited a certified organic egg facility. There was a miserable looking 16ft x16ft yard outside the barn borrowing some of the gravel parking lot with a little door for the chickens to access it. There were no chickens outside, which was no surprise, because there was no food, water, or shade outside.

I asked the farmer how he managed to keep the roadway and parking lot so free of weeds. “RoundUp,” was his reply. You see, the Organic Inspectors are asking about feed and disease protocol. They want the barn free of chemicals. It’s not their job to question grounds keeping.

These hens didn’t experience sunlight. They didn’t breathe fresh air. They didn’t scratch for bugs. They didn’t even get to nibble a dandelion. The birds needed extra vitamin supplements in their water because they were experiencing prolapses laying their eggs.

They weren’t healthy birds. The barn stank. It wasn’t hell for chickens, but it wasn’t beautiful either. Believe me, when I tell you the hat quality of your food is directly correlated with the aroma of the farm.

Harvest Haven Certified

Harvest Haven Certified is maximum standards. Obviously, that means no chemicals ever, 100% organic feed, and actually being outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, getting their exercise roaming and scratching in the dirt for bugs.

Our birds are in the pasture during the growing season in a mobile hen house. They get to scratch, hunt for bugs, and eat all the greens they want. They only come into a barn with a large surrounding yard for the winter when we can’t keep their water from freezing.

If you’ve ever seen our hen yard, you’ll remember seeing all the birds outside. We didn’t make a yard because we had a rule to follow. We have a yard because we want our birds to go outside. The yard is two feet deep with woodchips for the hens to scratch through and eat bugs. There are shade and shelter. There’s even a little playground to entertain them (birds get bored too because they’re intelligent creatures).

When they’re not on pasture, we bring cart loads of fresh greens to the yard. If nothing green is growing, we make sure to bring them the greenest hay we have.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that healthy hens need lots of sunlight and salad. And if a chicken doesn’t have the ability and freedom to express every part of its scratchy, diggy little personality, you’re doing something wrong.

It makes me angry when people use the words “organic,” “natural,” or “free-range” to describe their chickens’ unhealthy, unnatural, and rangeless living conditions.

We’ll leave you with some photos and videos of how things should be done. I think they speak for themselves.

Our first year raising poultry on the pasture in 2018: 

Where our chickens stay in the winter: 

Customer Feedback

“The produce and meat I’ve received from Harvest Haven Market Farm is the best food I’ve ever eaten. I didn’t think I was a strawberry fan, but I certainly am now! The strawberries are sweet, juicy, delicious, addictive, and everyone that comes to my house to sample them becomes customers of Harvest Haven Market Farm. The eggs are so yummy, and the yolks are dark yellow. They are an incredible change from the pale yellow tasteless eggs you can get elsewhere. I’ve only had compliments when I serve them.”

- Judy Budd, Aerus Electrolux

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