Shelly McMahon raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens on pasture in Brentwood, California. Raising chickens on pasture allows her birds to roam and perform their natural behaviors—pecking and scratching for bugs and seeds and taking dust baths. Hens are given fresh water, nesting boxes, and perches, and they are rotated to new pastures regularly so they always have access to fresh grass. In addition to what the hens forage, Shelly’s Farm Fresh chickens receive a custom blend of grains, ensuring that there are no unnecessary fillers or antibiotics in the feed.
Shelly raises her birds on pasture not only because it makes “the girls” happy, but because pasture-raised eggs are tastier and healthier. Her eggs have a rich flavor and dark orange yolks with shells varying from blue-green to brown. “The egg shells are the fun part!” she says. “We get an assortment of brown and blue-green shelled eggs. If you look closely at the hens “ears”—yes, you can see their ears!—the color will let you know if the shell will be a brown or white egg. We do our best to make “the girls” feel at home and use portable fencing to keep them safe from local predators.” Scientific research shows that pasture-raised eggs contain three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the Omega-3 fatty acids as industrial eggs. In addition, Shelly sows a special blend of seeds in her pastures of plants that have a high omega-3 profile, with the aim of achieving even higher levels of omega-3 in her eggs.