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The Country Hen Frequently Asked Questions
Are there farm sales?
We proudly sell our eggs locally at the Country Trails Store at 45 Gardner Road (Route 68) in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. Please call in advance for store hours and availability: (978) 928–4472
Are your egg cartons recyclable and why doesn't it say it on the carton?
Yes, The Country Hen egg cartons are 100% recyclable with your paper products. They are made from 100% recycled fibers, as stated on the back of the carton.
Is your feed Non-GMO?
Yes. Our certified organic feed is also Non-GMO.
Can I use raw eggs in cooking? Are raw eggs safe for consumption?
The Country Hen began voluntarily testing our barns over fifteen years ago and we have always been Salmonella Enteritidis free. We have many customers and team members who regularly consume and enjoy our raw eggs in eggnog, smoothies, protein shakes, raw cookie dough, etc. Please note that the FDA issues the following consumer advisory: consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.
Can I visit the farm?
In order to be in compliance with FDA regulations related to biosecurity established in 2010, we are no longer able to allow tours of our farm. However, you may take a virtual tour on our website.
Can you tell me about the treatment of your birds?
The Country Hens roam freely through sunlit barns. Our barns have back to back windows down both sides of the barn. They have outdoor porches attached which provide a roof overhead at all times and netting around the porch that keeps our girls safe from predators. The barns have plentiful perches, automated nests with privacy curtains, and 24 hour access to water and our freshly milled proprietary feed. The Country Hens are able to sunbathe, dust themselves, perch, scratch , socialize, spread their wings, and even fly, if they desire.
Do you use antibiotics on your birds?
We want to assure you that we do not use antibiotics at The Country Hen. We have never had an outbreak of disease here on the farm. We think this is due to the very strong organic feed that we give to the birds, the fact that they exercise and contact with floor litter and shavings where pathogens reside. If we ever did have an outbreak, we would have to treat with antibiotics, but we could not sell those eggs as organic.
How is the treatment of your birds different from a commercial farm?
First, we feed our baby chicks and our laying hens totally organic feed that we mill ourselves in accordance with a formula designed to provide the hens with superior nutrition at each respective stage of their development. There are no herbicides, pesticides, or chemicals in it, as most commercial egg farms feed their hens. In addition, we allow our hens to roam free in large, sunlit barns with outdoor access onto specially designed porches. They live a happy, comfortable life with exercise. We believe in treating our hens very humanely, and for this reason, we have a very special niche in the marketplace, and many people buy our eggs just for this excellent treatment of our hens.
How long after the expiration date can I use these eggs?
The Country Hen uses a sell by date on our cartons to insure freshness. Our eggs have been quality tested for longevity after the sell by date and the results of these tests determined that our eggs can be enjoyed up to four weeks after the sell by date.
Is there a difference between brown and white shelled eggs?
The breed of hen determines the shell color. Hens with white earlobes lay white shelled eggs and hens with red earlobes lay brown shelled eggs. There is no difference in taste or nutrition between the two. Since brown egg layers are slightly larger birds and require more food, brown eggs are usually more expensive than white.
Sometimes my eggs are cloudy white. Why does this happen?
A cloudy white is a sign of a very fresh egg. The albumen becomes clearer as the egg releases carbon dioxide as part of the natural aging process. All eggs naturally release carbon dioxide through their porous shells. Also, eggs stored at temperatures below the recommended 40 degrees can cause a cloudy appearance to the egg whites.
What are blood spots?
Blood spots are sometimes created when a chicken is suddenly startled or spooked. It is a ruptured blood vessel when the egg is forming. Hens in cage-free environments tend to have a higher frequency of blood spots because of their ability to move freely and mingle with their peers. This freedom of movement sometimes allows for more opportunity for the girls to unknowingly startle each other. We do know that blood spots are harmless, but unattractive. Many people simply remove the blood spot from the egg, and enjoy the remainder.
What are ALA, EPA, and DHA?
EPA & DHA are Omega 3 fatty acids called Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) that are found mainly in seafood. Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA) are fatty acids found mainly in seeds and nuts. Fatty acids are required by the body for proper nutrition. Fatty acids are transformed by the intestines into useful nutrients. Sufficient levels of EPA and DHA will help to promote a healthy cardiovascular system, and support a strong immune system. Supportive, but not conclusive, research shows the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The Country Hen is unique in that our eggs contain all three of these fatty acids.
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that promote a healthy cardiovascular system, support a strong immune system, and supportive but not conclusive research shows the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The Country Hen is unique in that our eggs contain three types of Omega-3s: DHA, EPA, and ALA.
What are the stringy white pieces in egg whites?
These rope-like strands of egg white, called chalazae (ka-LAY-zee) are not imperfections or beginning embryos but a natural, edible part of the egg. They keep the yolk centered in the thick white. A prominent chalazae is another indication of a very fresh egg.
Do you beak trim your hens?
There are really three options when it comes to a maintaining a hen's beak:
  1. Leave it natural
  2. Beak trimming
  3. Debeaking
Option 3 was never an option for The Country Hen. We feel this is an inhumane practice and it was never considered. George Bass, our founder, was torn between option 1 and 2 when he started the farm because of the fact that Hens do establish "pecking orders" in flocks and can cause serious injury and death to each other. He decided the only true way to determine what was best in The Country Hen environment was to test two sister flocks in two different barns. One with their beaks left natural and one with their beaks trimmed and then monitor their results. It is important to also explain the beak trimming process. It is done by a trained expert when the hen is 7-10 days old. 1/8" is trimmed off the very tip of the beak to just before the cuticle (nerve ending) in the beak. It is very similar to cutting a dog or cat's nails. The hens are able to eat and drink immediately after the procedure. The results of the sister flocks were amazing. The flock with the beaks trimmed had a much lower injury and mortality rate over the life span of the flock. It was quickly determined that at The Country Hen farm (in our environment), beak trimming was the most humane practice we could offer for our hens.
What happens if I leave my eggs out of the refrigerator?
According to the FDA, eggs that have been refrigerated should remain refrigerated, as the temperature fluctuations can impact the food safety of the egg. All Country Hen eggs have been refrigerated. Recipes that call for eggs being brought to room temperature can be enjoyed, provided that the eggs are not left out for more than two hours.
What is candling?
Candling is the process where we look into the egg. The eggs gently roll over light that illuminates the interior to better show cracks or spots or other imperfections that would cause the egg to not meet Country Hen’s high standards.
What is the best way to store eggs?
In accordance with the safe handling instructions printed on the label on the back of the carton. We also recommend keeping them in the carton because eggs can absorb refrigerator odors and the cartons help to prevent this.
What is the chance of Salmonella in your eggs?
As an egg producer, we must follow the final rule published in the Federal Register in 2010. This rule is for the prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in shell eggs during production, storage, and transportation. We monitor our flocks of birds several times throughout the growing and laying cycle. Barn swab samples are collected at various stages of life to be sent to a lab to be tested for SE. Prior to the passing of the law, we practiced a strict monitoring program voluntarily and we are proud of the fact that we have never tested positive for SE.
What is the source of your organic feed?
We do not reveal the source as it is one of our trade secrets. The Country Hen mills its feed right here on the farm in Hubbardston, MA. We use only premium, non-gmo ingredients from farmers we know and trust to make our certified organic feed.
Why are some hard-cooked eggs difficult to peel?
Fresh eggs may be difficult to peel. Those which have been stored for a week to 10 days before cooking will usually peel more easily. Hard cooking technique is also important in aiding the peeling process. Please refer to our recommended techniques in our recipe section.
Why are your eggs more expensive than others?
The cost of the feed that we mill on our farm is more expensive than that used on other farms; we only feed our hens certified organic feed. We purchase corn, wheat, etc. from farms who have to be certified organic, which means that they do not use herbicides, pesticides or chemicals. We have all of these products shipped to us, and then they are milled right here at the farm in our feed mill. We take on added building and maintenance expenses in order to allow our hens to roam free in large, sunlit barns, have safe access to the outdoors on porches, and live happy, comfortable lives. Our eggs are all hand collected from the egg belts which means more personnel and labor costs. Also, due to our high quality standards, we have a high percentage of eggs that are rejected and discarded.
Why do I get wrinkled yolks?
These eggs may have encountered varying levels of refrigeration during distribution.
Why do I sometimes get double yolks?
The reason that you received eggs with double yolks is probably because they were jumbo eggs, although it can occur in any size egg. Hens begin their laying process with small eggs, then medium, and eventually over the course of time are laying large, then extra large and finally jumbo eggs before they stop laying altogether. It is the jumbo eggs that usually have double and sometimes even triple yolks. The number of yolks reflect only on the age of the hen, not on the feed they eat or any other factor. The egg with a double yolk is still fresh and Grade A.
Why do some eggs smell different?
Sometimes, the feed that our chickens loves to eat gets clumped together due to high humidity, insufficient mixing or occasional mechanical problems involved in the milling process. If “clumps” of one ingredient or another occur, and a hen eats a higher proportion of one of the many ingredients that go into the feed, the egg that hen produces will likely take on the smell of that ingredient. There are times where the hens eat more feed than others. Factors that affect hen appetites are similar to those that affect human appetites. Conditions of higher than average warmth or cold will stimulate decreases and increases in appetite.
Why do some hard-cooked eggs have a greenish ring around the yolk?
The harmless greenish ring is due to an iron and sulfur compound, which forms when eggs are overcooked or not cooled quickly.
P.O. Box 333, 16 Williamsville Road, Hubbardston, MA 01452