Weekly Farm Update, October 11, 2012

How do you like your eggs?

No, we do not mean if you like them soft or hard, boiled or as an omelet.   We want to know how organic is organic?

We have just received a letter from our organic chicken food manufacturer who is putting up the price by 20%. This is a large increase and I wrote back telling them this. The lady in the office emailed back explaining the following:

“Hello Josje, Yes it is a big jump. The only thing that I can suggest is if we are able to put 15% Meat & Bone Meal in organic diets (Asure Quality Approved). Our bags say that they don’t contain MBM so we are unable to send out our Organic Poultry Layer Pellets that contain MBM in less we ask. Is this an option?”

So the question we have for you as this is your farm:  do we go for a low grade organic or high grade organic. Both certifiable as ‘organic’ but as we come to understand quite different. We worked out earlier this year that Asure Quality also approves getting in young stock/pullets up to 18 weeks of age from a conventional hatchery. Their Standards say:

 “When a flock is constituted at the initial set up, or renewed for full replacement of the flock, and organically reared birds are not available in sufficient numbers, non-organically reared birds may be brought into an organic livestock production unit, subject to the following conditions:

• Pullets for the production of eggs must be less than 18 weeks old.

• Chicks for broiler production must be less than three days old at the time they leave the hatchery.

This exception is considered authorised by AsureQuality until such time as New Zealand has the

capability to raise certified organic hens to 16 weeks.

The period of conversion for poultry is six weeks.”

This means that as chickens normally start laying their first eggs at around 24-26 weeks of age, this is a ‘perfect’ way to sell certified organic eggs from chickens that are brought up in a conventional hatchery for the first part of their life (18 weeks), which is a big chunk (a third) and important chunk too as they are often completely renewed after 72 weeks.  In the first 18 weeks they grow up in a conventional set up, where clipping of beaks and conventional food with most likely antibiotics, blood and bone meal, and other additives are the standard.  Think about the money saved by the egg producer of not having to look and expensive organic feed (150% more expensive than conventional food) the chicks for the first 18 weeks where no revenue is being made!

Have you come across BioGro certified organic eggs in a supermarket? I bet you have not and you cannot, because there are no New Zealand commercial full time BioGro certified egg producers out there; it does not make economic sense as ‘organic’ and ‘organic’ seem perfectly the same to the consumer in the supermarket choosing which organic eggs to buy, unless you have time and money to spend on a crusade to explain why one organic label is completely different from the other!

So here we are on a crusade. We personally think that feeding blood and bone to chickens is incorrect as chickens in nature do not feast on mammals. We also think it feels incorrect to feed and house the chickens conventional just up until they are ready to start producing. 

But it is up to you. We are your farm, you buy and eat our eggs.  How organic do you want your eggs to be, how much is an egg worth to you? Your feedback is most appreciated. in the mean time:

In your baskets this week:

Fruit Share:   Braeburn apples 1.5 kg, 3 Navel Oranges and 2 Hass Avocado’s.

Small Veggie Share:  Florence Fennel 160g, Baby beet mix 180g, either a Cabbage, Broccoli, Savoy Cabbage or Red Cabbage, Red Desire Potato 1.2kg and bunch of Rapini 120g.

Large Veggie Share:  Florence Fennel 160g, Baby beet mix 180g, either a Cabbage, Broccoli, Savoy Cabbage or Red Cabbage, Red Desire Potato 1.2kg and bunch of Rapini 120g, Spinach 100g, yellow Heritage Carrots 350g (last of the winter crop), Mizuna 130g, a Pumpkin/Squash and Frisee Endive 100g.


Enjoy your week,