Questions? We have answers. . .
Click on a question below to read our response!
Where are your eggs produced?
In addition to our home-farm, we now partner with 15 additional small family farms in Central and Southeast Pennsylvania who care for our hens and supply our eggs. About half of the eggs we produce are Certified Organic, cage-free eggs. The other half are also cage-free, with several of those farms being Certified Humane.
What's the difference between brown and white eggs?
Egg shell color is determined by the breed of hen and is often related to the color of the hen’s ear lobes. White eggs are most often laid by white or light-colored hens with white ear lobes, while brown eggs are most often laid by red-feathered or brown/dark-feathered chickens with red ear lobes. The color of brown eggs is a natural pigment placed by the hen on the surface of the shell during the final stages of egg formation. The outer shell color can vary from light to dark brown, depending on the breed of the hen and on individual hen characteristics. A brown egg or a white egg will give you basically the same nutrition, taste the same, and are equally delicious. The two also have more or less the same shell thickness. The differences in shell thickness that may be observed likely has to do with the age of the chicken — young hens lay eggs with shells that are typically harder than older hens’ eggs, but this is true for both white and brown egg layers.
What do you know about the avian flu?
Statement from Alderfer Eggs on Avian Influenza The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently confirmed that multiple outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Kansas. While lethal to birds, the H5 strain of virus detected is not known to have caused disease in humans and is not expected to pose a risk to public health or the food supply. No Alderfer Eggs farms are infected with Avian Flu. Our farms are all located in Pennsylvania and, while there have not been any confirmed cases in PA to date, the state is currently on an avian flu alert until further notice. Alderfer Eggs is taking extra precautionary biosecurity measures to ensure that all of our eggs are safe. We follow the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines. In addition, we have a solid and experienced biosecurity program, as do each of the farms we partner with. We also have our monitoring program, which has been in place since 1983 and has never had a positive test for avian flu. Pennsylvania experienced this same strain of avian influenza in 1983 and 1984. During that time a lot of these security measures were put in place and we as a state now monitor more heavily because of this earlier outbreak. Our protocol includes temporarily confining the chickens and conducting our testing protocol if an infection is suspected, while also doing everything possible to avoid the risk of outside infection. Eggs from Alderfer’s continue to be safe.
How many days after the sell by date are the eggs able to be eaten?
It’s generally recommended that eggs be used within about 2-3 weeks of the sell by date printed on the carton, provided they have been stored at the proper temperature up to that point. Eggs are best stored at a temperature below 40 F, in their carton, and near the middle or on the lower shelf of the refrigerator where temperatures will not fluctuate as much (e.g. storing them in the refrigerator door is not recommended).
Why aren't all your eggs organic?
The type of feed our chickens eat determines whether their eggs are natural or organic. All the chicken feed we use is 100% vegetarian, and all the feed we give our organic hens is Certified Organic. The difference in the cost of organic feed versus conventional feed is significant, so we offer consumers a choice of natural cage-free or Certified Organic cage-free eggs. That way they can select eggs based on their personal preferences and budget. We are Certified Organic by Pennsylvania Certified Organic and the USDA National Organic Program.
Why are your hens vegetarian fed?
Vegetarian eggs were developed for the lacto-ova vegetarian. These vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products, but require that the hens producing these eggs are not fed animal by-products. Chickens that produce vegetarian eggs are fed all grain diets in contrast to chickens producing eggs whose diets include animal proteins. Other nutrients may also be added to the feed which are lacking in the pure vegetarian diet.
Do you de-beak your hens?
No, we do not de-beak our chickens. That is a harsh practice and does not meet our standards of care for our hens. However, we do practice beak trimming. After some research, we have found that our birds are under less stress and are healthier than if we leave the beaks alone. Therefore we do beak trim them at 10 days old and use every means possible to minimize pain/stress during the process. Humane Farm Animal Care also confirms that there are humane reasons for beak trimming. Here is a link to a pdf on the Certified Humane website which helps to explain this as well: http://www.certifiedhumane.org/uploads/pdf/Fact%20Sheets/beak_trimming.pdf
How much living space do the chickens have?
It depends on which eggs you are referring to. We partner with several family farms which allow us to carry a variety of eggs to meet a wide variety of customer needs. Eggs from cage-free and Certified Humane hens have a minimum 1.2 sq ft per bird. Certified Organic hens must meet other standards and birds in those houses have space ranging from 1.2 to 1.6 sq ft per bird. How do our practices and space compare to how the majority of hens are kept in this country? In a caged-bird chicken house each hen has approximately 67 square inches of space (1 sq ft = 144 square inches), lives in a wire cage, and cannot exercise a single natural behavior other than eating, drinking, and egg laying. It is typical for caged egg producers to keep between 250,000 and 500,000 hens in a single barn. Our barns are a fraction of that size.
Are your eggs pasteurized?
No, we do not pasteurize our eggs. Pasteurization is a process of heating food to specific high temperature, for a pre-determined time, to reduce pathogens. Our eggs are not heated in this way. We distribute them fresh. What we do to ensure our eggs are always clean and safe is to use a light, organic-approved detergent to wash the shells, along with hot water. These cleaning agents do an excellent job of cleaning the dirt off the shells. After our eggs are washed, we then sanitize them with a mild chlorine solution. We monitor critical control points like wash- and rinse-water temperature, detergent levels and cooler temperatures, to ensure that our eggs are safe and clean.
Are your eggs washed?
Yes, the eggs are washed. A mild, egg-approved detergent is used along with hot water (for the organic eggs, this detergent is organic approved). The eggs are then rinsed with a low-level chlorine/water solution before they are dried and packed.