The #1 question we get is "What is Regenerative Farming anyways?"
We're collecting all questions ever asked and will write a short response for each.
Where a longer answer is warranted, we're writing up those pages with long form answers as blog posts and newsletters. Subscribe if you'd like those updates right to your inbox.
Thanks for all the questions. It means you care, which we love!
NOTE: (Feb, 2, 2022) This page is a work in progress! Instead of keeping it offline until we had answers written for every question, we're adding to the page consistently on a weekly basis.
What is Regenerative Agriculture anyways?
Simply put, Regenerative Agriculture or Regenerative Farming takes existing nutrient cycles and amplifies them to rebuild a currently degraded ecosystem.
Sustainable is fine when things are in good shape, but that’s typically not the case with most of our productive land.
We write more about it in What are Regenerative Hens (and eggs) anyways?
Are you Organic Certified?
Not yet, but we operate as though we were.
All our animals are fed an organic feed, We've converted our corn and soy fields to pasture using fully organic certified cover crop mix (This step is not strictly necessary, but we chose to go the organic cover crop route regardless). Our animals have at least, and often more than, the minimum space requirement for organic certified animal welfare standards.
As our fields were used by the previous farmer for conventional crop production, it takes 36 months since the last non-organic certified field application to have those fields certified as organic. As of early 2022, and assuming we pass all the initial audit and application requirements, we're about 18 months away from achieving organic certification, and we expect that to occur for mid 2023.
Where do you deliver?
Anywhere between Woodstock and the GTA.
Do you charge for delivery?
Typically delivery is free if you can meet us at a pick-up point, currently located:
- Kitchener Market, downtown Kitchener
- near Brant Street in Oakville
- Across from the University of Toronto Mississauga campus
- 295 Adelaide in Toronto
- Just south-east of Coxwell station, on the Danforth
If those don't work, delivery to your door is free over $300, or $17 extra for orders less than $300.
How do I get a pick-up location on my street?
If you're able to get an order together with at least one neighbor, we'll create a pick-up location on your street so everyone can get their order delivered free of charge, even if it's under the $300 minimum.
Chat to us with the chat button and let us know that's what you'd like to do and we'll create the pick-up spot for you so you can select it in our checkout and bypass any delivery fees!
Can I find you in any stores or restaurants?
- Florence Meats in Oakville carries our fresh chickens in the summer.
- The Ellery Market on the Danforth serves our chicken and eggs.
- First & Last Coffee near Dupont Station makes their breakfast sandwiches with our eggs every day.
What makes your hens, and their eggs, regenerative anyways?
What qualifies regenerative hens and their eggs as actually regenerative is their use within an active and explicitly managed approach to regenerating the soil.
To do this means developing a deep and nuanced understanding of how energy, nutrients, and water cycle through our environment, and the role in which animals have co-evolved in propagating these cycles.
We write more about it in What are Regenerative Hens (and eggs) anyways?
Where do you get your hens?
We get our hens from one of a few hatcheries in Ontario. They hatch and raise them to what's called "point-of-lay". This is the time they're ready to start laying eggs, which is about 19-20 weeks old (about 4 1/2 months).
We receive them in mid March, when almost all of the snow on our fields has melted and we can give them a lot of outdoor space. Having been born mid November of the previous year, they've been raised indoors over the winter months inside a commercial barn, on a free-run floor. They haven't been caged, but they haven't seen much of the real world either, yet!
As soon as they arrive with us in March, they'll live outdoors. We keep them outside as late as we can in the season before it really starts to get consistently below freezing.
Are they raised organic-certified from birth?
They're not, so this means the first four and a half months of their lives they're raised and fed to conventional standards.
That said, we're in the process of figuring out how to source organic point-of-lay hens, timing and weather being the determining factors. As most organic hens are raised for organic barn egg production, the timing of their availability isn't affected by the seasons.
In our case, we're specifically working to have point-of-lay organic hens ready for us for late March or early April, when the fields are clear of snow and we can start them outside from their first day with us.
How long do you keep your hen flock?
We keep our hens for a year at which point we sell them to those who might want to add to their backyard flock, or we process them for use in soups and stock.
Why don't you keep them longer than a year?
The short answer is that in Canada, laying hens are required to be pulled out of laying duty after 51 weeks of production. (2) The farmer / operator does not have a choice as to whether or not to extend the laying season, and must euthanize and/or market the hens to a processor. (2)
The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) publishes their Codes of Practice for over a dozen types of animal production in Canada. The NFACC is a project delivered through Animal Health Canada, whose Chair, Board Members, and Advisory Committee Members consists of industry, federal, and provincial ministers. From their website;
Animal Health Canada is the only national organization that brings together industry, federal, provincial and territorial partners to provide collaborative guidance on a cohesive, functional and responsive farmed animal health and welfare system in Canada.
AHC is a not-for-profit corporation jointly funded by members which include federal, provincial, and territorial governments, industry organizations, and other partners working in animal health and welfare in Canada.
So in order to remain compliant with Canadian egg production standards, we're required to replace our flock after 51 weeks of production, with at least a 1 week period between flocks.
What is the reasoning around the 51 week maximum production cycle?
Hens have multiple egg laying cycles. In between cycles, they moult (shedding their feathers), a process that typically occurs in the fall and allows them to rejuvenate their feathers and reproductive system ahead of a spring reproductive cycle. Evolutionarily, it's best to hatch offspring in the warmth of the spring and summer. Hence the timing of the moult.
Eggs are not laid during a moulting cycle. It therefore becomes financially unviable to keep the hens through their natural moulting process as it typically takes 3 to 4 months for the hens to return to full production.
In the past, moulting has been 'forced' by restricting feed and sometimes water for multiple days. While the subsequent egg production cycles can actually yield larger, more robust eggs, the cycles are shorter, and there is a very real concern for the animals' welfare.
The practice is banned in Canada and in the EU, as well as in parts of the United States for animal welfare reasons.
How long would they live if they weren't processed after a year?
This is a tough question to answer. Wikipedia's article on Gallus Gallus Domesticus (the domestic chicken) doesn't cite a lifespan. A google search lists a number of websites that all seem to say a chicken will live from 5-30 years.
This article(1) adds some nuance to the conversation, namely that reproductive success of 28 Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus Gallus) hens, housed unconfined in the San Diego Zoo, studied over seven years between 1982 and 1989, is significantly correlated to level of dominance / pecking order which is also correlated to age and lifespan.
More dominant hens can secure more food, live longer, enjoy healthier lives, and are more successful at raising young. In fact, the top three most dominant hens raised more young (30) then the other 28 hens in the flock (29).
The result? The most dominant hens (also the oldest) lived to a mean age of 48 months, or 4 years, while the remaining hens, stratified by birth year, lived to a mean of between 23 and 38 months, or about 2-3 years.
(1) Collias, N., & Jennrich, R. I. (1994). Dominant red junglefowl (Gallus Gallus) hens in an unconfined flock rear the most young over their lifetime. The Auk, 111(4), 863–872. https://doi.org/10.2307/4088818
(2) Egg Quota Policy, Flock Cycle and Disposal of Laying Hens, Chapter 3, Section 22. (2021). Egg Farmers Canada. https://www.getcracking.ca/sites/default/files/inline-files/S3%20Egg%20Quota%20Policy%20amended%201221.pdf