We follow the most widely accepted practices in the industry. Since we began building our organic farm in 2009, we have continued expansion for organics by growing tenfold and are committed to continued growth to meet future consumer demand. To produce these eggs, we sincerely attempt to provide our customers with a sustainable combination of high standards for biosecurity, and safe quality eggs from birds that are well cared for.
We have been and continue to be certified every year by the American Humane Association for humane care of our birds. American Humane Association is the largest and fastest growing independent animal welfare program in the U.S. with certified producers raising and handling millions of farm animals. Their program is built on the values of the Five Freedoms, as adopted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
2. Freedom from discomfort
3. Freedom from pain, injury, disease
4. Freedom to express normal behaviors
5. Freedom from fear and distress
We meet or exceed all requirements for the USDA Certified Organic program as audited annually by the Utah Department of Food and Agriculture (FDA). Additionally, we are certified Kosher, meet the highest SQF Level 3 standards (Safe Quality Food) and meet or exceed the FDA’s Egg Safety Rule requirements as indicated by third-party audits granting us one of a handful of companies qualifying for the 5-Star Program fromUnited Egg Producers (UEP). Oakdell is a family-owned company whose roots stretch back to 1905 with many family members directly involved in the day-to-day operation of our farm. We have accommodated numerous visitors to our farm. When permitted by our state veterinarian, birds have free access to the outdoors in covered porches, but currently, under their direction, that is temporarily suspended to help contain the nation’s severe avian influenza outbreak.
We buy as much local organically certified grain as possible and use the bird waste/manure to make what is very likely the only organic poultry compost in the area approved for use in Certified Organic food production and handling by the Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program. We want you to be comfortable with Oakdell Egg Farms’ organic eggs and the standards by which we abide.
No. Hormones are not allowed to be used in the production of any table eggs in the United States. However, it is not accurate to say that an egg does not have hormones, because a hen is a female and all females (and males) have hormones. We do not add any hormones to any step along the way to produce our eggs!
And, we never feed antibiotics to any of our beautiful brown birds that produce our Omega-3 eggs or our Organic Cage-free eggs. While we are allowed to use antibiotics, it has been decades since we have ever used them for any of our white or brown birds. This is something you should not worry about with any egg sold under the Oakdell Egg Farms name.
We never feed any of our organic cage-free birds any GMO grain; this is not allowed. (In case you don’t know, GMO means Genetically Modified Organisms.) However, most of our other birds are fed corn and soybean meal that was grown using genetically modified technology used to increase production by preventing a variety of problems such as insect damage and disease tolerance. You may be interested to know that according to data from the USDA, 85% of corn and 91% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are from GMO seeds. Crops are grown organically often yield less than conventionally grown crops.
This seems to be another big gray area because there are significant environmental and crop production advantages to genetically modified seeds. The first area referred to above is the yield potential of organic compared to conventionally produced crops. We have grown some commercial organic grains on our own farmland and know that most organically produced crop yields are less than conventionally grown crop yields. Because of this well-known yield reduction on many commercially produced grains, the country would have to plant many, many more acres of crops to produce the same yields as conventionally grown crops. Could we do it? Yes, we could, but at what cost? Where would this acreage come from? In both the U.S. and throughout the world, human population continues to grow, but the amount of land to produce the food to feed those people does not; in fact, the farmable land is decreasing as more people need more places to live. Farmers could plant more acreage, but doing so would require planting on environmentally sensitive land such as: hillsides that could cause soil erosion, the windy and arid flatland areas of the country that need continuous vegetation to prevent wind erosion or another Dust Bowl, or near waterways that could become contaminated with run-off fertilizers or pesticides. We certainly don’t want to cut down our forests either. Wherever we would expand planting would very likely invade some environmentally sensitive or endangered plant or wildlife habitat. Is it worth doing this when there may be other alternatives? You will have to decide this yourself, but it seems the careful use of proven genetically modified crops may be a way to help avoid this issue while helping to protect our environment.
Since the beginning of time, mankind has been involved in a continuous effort to improve crop yields. Historically, this has been done through conventional plant breeding: plant a crop one year, select the best seeds it produced and plant them the next year. Repeat, repeat, and repeat. Each cycle takes a full year.
Beginning in earnest during the late 1980’s researchers found a way to accelerate and enhance the conventional plant breeding method by genetically selecting specific desirable genes and inserting them into a plant at the laboratory level. Without expanding planted acreage, some of the genes that have been inserted can likely help address our world’s increased food needs by doing such things as adding drought tolerance, freeze resistance, herbicide resistance, nutritional enhancement, and insect resistance, all without the need for pesticides.
For example, the ability to insert insect prevention into seeds has reduced insecticide use on crops grown throughout the world. Some of those insecticides were extremely toxic to both the target and non-target pests as they carried the most extreme “Danger” warning on their label accompanied by a skull and crossbones signal. How did they do this? Did they insert the dangerous insecticide in the plant seed? No, one way was to insert a very safe-to-humans, bad-to-insects gene called bacillus thuringiensis (or “BT” for short) into the seed. Most environmentally conscious home gardeners use this on a regular basis because of its safety and effectiveness.
In summary, the safe and judicious use of proven pesticides and GMO grains may play a key role in providing a growing population with economical, high-quality food as less land becomes available to produce food. Whatever eggs you buy is up to you and we are happy to provide whichever option you choose.
Yes, we do, and they are certified by the American Humane Association, Humane Farm Animal Care, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Did you know that by definition, all organic eggs must be cage-free, but cage-free eggs do not have to be organic? An organic egg must come from cage-free birds fed organic feed. For most of our 110+ years in egg production, we have produced cage-free eggs. We recently built a new state-of-the-art organic cage-free production farm, and are in the process of converting many conventional white caged barns to cage-free where we take additional precautions to enhance bird comfort and improve food safety. We will continue this conversion process as long as people are willing to buy these eggs.
Some of these eggs are sold under the Oakdell Organic brown egg label, some as Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic label, some at Kroger’s Simple Truth, as well as a few other brands throughout most of the Intermountain area. In addition, we are now fully prepared to convert customers to Cage-free white eggs as we did all Costcos under their Kirkland Signature label that had previously been sold under our Oakdell brand of conventionally produced white eggs. This conversion is very expensive and takes time, but by working with our valued customers, we are willing to supply the eggs our customers and end users want.
No, but a few people have noticed that occasionally when brown eggs are boiled in vinegar water they can take a towel and wipe off some of the brown colors as seen on the top seven eggs in the photo below. Here is why: when a bird produces an egg, one of the last things she does is to add the pigmentation for the color of the shell and then place it on these beautiful nutritious gems herself. The color is a very thin layer that can come off until it is well set on the egg. The vinegar in the water causes a chemical reaction that can allow some of the color to be removed. The color is not part of the shell itself.
Another example of color being removed is shown in the next photo below. The light rings around the eggs were caused by the washing process as the eggs rolled over the conveyor where they touched the rollers, and removed some of the brown pigmentations. Remember: color is one of the last things the bird adds and in this case, the eggs were so fresh, the pigment had likely not set permanently onto the shell.
In summary: don’t be alarmed if some of this thin layer of color comes off. Color can easily be removed physically or chemically – as in the case with vinegar. To test the physical removal method, just take a little piece of sandpaper or emery board and rub the egg – you will see the white color underneath. We definitely do not dye the eggs as that is the job of our beautiful brown birds!
Yes, some we do, and some we don’t. Our goal is to produce the kind of eggs in the quantity people want to buy: some organic cage-free, some cage-free, some conventional from birds in cages, and some with nutritional enhancements raised in cage-free barns. When we use cages, at a minimum, we follow United Egg Producers (UEP) guidelines to continue our formal animal care certification by them. These evolving guidelines are being continually reviewed by the United Egg Producer’s scientific committee under the leadership of Dr. Patricia Hester of Purdue University.
We think this issue fits into the gray area as noted above: it’s probably not as black or white of an issue as it may seem when one first looks into it. If you would like more information on the issue, we would ask you to read the information below, but if you don’t have time to do that, we would say our position is that we realize we are all different from one another and will make different choices. It troubles us that this issue could be made by someone without considering a holistic analysis that includes the issues of food safety, cost-effectiveness, and animal welfare.
When Grandfather and now great-grandfather Cecil Woodward first began raising chickens in 1905, all of our birds were “cage-free” and even “free range.” The birds roamed freely in the barnyard, but so did the hawks, skunks, badgers, foxes, coyotes, dogs, raccoons, mice and rats. (We’ll call these “predators”) The calm, home-on-the-range, pristine picture you might imagine was not always the case when one of the aforementioned visitors arrived to claim their prey. Death is seldom a pretty picture.
Grandfather soon found that he could protect the birds better by moving them indoors to barns similar to the one with him in the black and white picture on the home page, or the history page of our website. Although not eliminated, predator related deaths decreased and more birds survived the cold winters as they could huddle up to keep warm. Refrigeration of eggs was not a common thing at that time; neither was there a good system in the medical community for tracking food-borne illnesses, such as salmonella enteritidis. Whether outside in the barnyard, or in these barns, the birds would poop, play in their poop, scratch in their poop, eat their poop and humans would then eat the eggs these birds laid.
The next step was moving the birds into a housing system where their waste (poop) dropped down far away from the birds into the bottom of the barns away from the chickens and away from the eggs. This waste was then removed once or twice a year by using front-end loaders on tractors. This product was highly sought after by farmers wanting a good source of nitrogen for their crops. In addition to food safety improvements, this also allowed greater control over predators entering the barns that would either cause premature death to the birds or invite food safety related issues. From an economic standpoint, this system significantly reduced costs as none of the eggs had to be hand gathered and were conveyed on belts directly to the machine that washed, graded, and packed the eggs.
Our next move that began in the late 1990s involved installing conveyors to remove the waste every two to three days, as opposed to once or twice a year. From both an animal welfare and a food safety point of view, this has proven to be very effective. By removing the waste every two to three days, ammonia levels in the barns were dramatically reduced, as were any harborage areas for mice or flies. Offensive odors, rodents, and flies were virtually eliminated by this move. Today, most of our eggs are produced either this way or in a combination as described in the paragraph above.
One point worth mentioning here is what we do with the waste taken out of the barns. In some locations, we make very high-quality compost out of it by adding water, straw and wood products to it, then mix it on a scheduled basis to prevent overheating and to preserve essential microorganisms and bacteria to become our organic compost. It smells like fresh soil when we’re done, and it does crops, gardens, and plants of all kinds good. In other areas, we use a unique process to pelletize the raw waste. This product does smell, but has a higher nitrogen level and is much easier to apply by the organic crop farmers who use it. Please see the Organic Poultry Compost page of our website for more information.
We do not artificially induce molting in our cage-free organic birds, but we do in our conventional birds. Molting is a natural process that many species go through. Snakes and other reptiles shed their skins, and most birds naturally molt or lose their feathers about once per year. The purpose of molting is for birds to either rejuvenate themselves or to make themselves more attractive for potential mates. In commercial egg farms, it has been done to rejuvenate egg laying capability. How is it done? In the past, it was done by temporarily withholding feed. When we do it now, birds have their diet changed from a protein-rich feed to one high in fiber.
Of course, we don’t cut the beaks off, but we do “trim” the tips of their beaks. This is for a similar reason that we humans trim our finger and toenails: if we don’t, we can injure ourselves, or those around us. Cats and dogs have their nails trimmed for the same reason.
Does it hurt the animals, in our case the birds, when we trim their beaks? It probably does a bit, in a similar manner to when you trim your fingernails too close. This is typically now done at the hatcheries with a laser beam before we ever buy our birds. If we have to do it on the farm, as a preventative measure, the birds are fed extra vitamin E and K to enhance coagulation (to prevent bleeding), if bleeding were to occur.
You might be interested to know that chickens raised for commercial products that do not have their beaks trimmed exhibit a very troublesome characteristic: they become cannibalistic. Their inherent “pecking order” comes out with the strongest ones picking on and often causing very serious injury to others. This is particularly true in non-caged systems where more birds co-mingle with each other.
Brown chickens have not been genetically improved over time like their white counterparts. That’s why a brown egg will occasionally have paprika-looking spots of red or dark red in the egg. These may surprise you, but they are harmless. Scientists report that most of these spots are simply the pigment or coloring from the shell. Occasionally a bright red spot will get through. This is the result of a blood vessel rupturing as the chicken lays the eggs. We try to remove eggs that have these, but neither machine nor humans are perfect at catching 100% of them. It is much more difficult to see these through a brown shell during the candling process.
This is rare and happens when a blood vessel ruptures during the production of an egg. The egg is still edible, and the easiest way to remove the spot is with the tip of a knife. Blood spots are not signs of fertility and they do not mean that the egg is bad.
Spin it on a countertop. If it spins quickly, it is boiled; if it spins slowly, it is not boiled. Try it! There will be no question when you do this test.
It is not recommended. Properly refrigeration and thoroughly cooking the eggs is always better.
This is an interesting issue that has possibly incorrectly implicated eggs. In February 2011 USDA data revealed that eggs actually have 14% lower cholesterol than previously recorded – the new reported level is 185 mg per large egg.
There are two kinds of cholesterol: blood serum and dietary. Blood cholesterol is naturally occurring and can increase the risk of heart disease. Dietary cholesterol comes from the food we eat, like meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood. Our bodies do not automatically convert dietary cholesterol to blood cholesterol. Research shows that dietary cholesterol does not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels in most people. Saturated fats seem to be a bigger culprit. Studies published in an American Heart Association journal showed that 20 healthy young men and 13 healthy young women with normal blood cholesterol levels were able to consume up to two eggs per day while on a low-fat diet without significantly raising their blood cholesterol levels. The outcome of this study suggests that an egg or two daily may be acceptable for people with normal blood cholesterol levels. (Courtesy of the American Egg Board)
A double yolk occurs in an egg when a chicken releases two yolks into the same shell. These eggs are perfectly safe to eat and are said to bring good luck when you find them. In fact, you may occasionally find an egg with three or even four yolks – if you’re lucky!
The breed of the chicken determines the shell color of an egg; in general: a brown chicken produces a brown egg and a white chicken produces a white egg. Because brown chickens are usually larger and require more food to make an egg, brown eggs cost more than white eggs. Inherently there is no difference between brown and white eggs, but the feed the birds receive does make a difference.
Oakdell’s Brown Omega-3 specialty egg is very different because of added flaxseed, marine algae, Vitamin E, and because we do not feed any animal by-products to the birds that produce these eggs. Some say that these eggs even taste better.
Oakdell’s Brown Organic eggs are different than an ordinary egg because the birds are fed certified organic feed and they are raised in a cage-free environment.
You may be interested to know that in general, brown birds are calmer by nature and do better in cage-free environments than do their white sisters.
No. Roosters (males) are not allowed in our hen houses.
This is a chemical reaction caused by overcooking eggs or cooling them too slowly.
Yolk color is determined by what a chicken eats. Thus, a darker yolk usually means a diet that contains more corn or alfalfa in the feed. Yolk color does not affect the nutritive value or cooking characteristics. Egg yolks are a rich source of vitamin A regardless of color.
Older eggs at room temperature whip best.
Animal welfare is a top priority for us. We have every incentive to take good care of our birds so they, in turn, will take care of us. We respect them and expect others to do the same. Eggs from our birds provide one of the best and most economical sources of protein available while providing a source of income for us and our employees.
We train our employees on the proper handling of birds and ask them to report any abuse to owners of the company. Such abuse is grounds for immediate termination.
We strive to meet or exceed all well-established standards for animal welfare. We care for our birds in a way to meet or exceed requirements of annual audits by AHA (American Humane Association), and/or HFAC (Humane Farm Animal Care), and UEP (United Egg Producers) for both our caged and cage-free birds. For cage-free production, we have chosen to use the aviary style of housing so laying hens can never, ever be locked in a cage and can roost up high as they sleep. Following these well- established animal husbandry practices allow us to simultaneously achieve:
I. Food safety for humans
II. Proper care of the birds, that includes:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
- Freedom from Discomfort
- Freedom from Pain, Injury and Disease
- Freedom to Express Normal Behavior; and
- Freedom from Fear and Distress.
This is called the chalazae. It is a ropey strand of egg white which anchors the yolk in place in the center of the thick white. They are neither imperfections nor beginning embryos. The more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg. Chalazae do not interfere with the cooking or beating of the white and need not be removed, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard.
If properly refrigerated, the Sell-by, Best-by, or Expiration-date on each carton can be a good guide. They are generally good for a week or two beyond these dates.
There are a few ways to tell if an egg is fresh. The thicker the white of the egg, the fresher; the more firm or higher the yolk stands up, the fresher the egg. A fun test for egg freshness is to put an egg in water. If it sinks and rests horizontally, it is very fresh. If the larger end starts to rise, your egg is typically one to two weeks old. An egg that floats is a very old egg.
It’s best to store eggs in their original carton that shows the Sell-by (or Best-by or Expiration-date) on a shelf in the fridge. If eggs are not stored in their original carton (in a refrigerator door), there is no way of knowing their age, and they can absorb odors from other foods.
Please visit the following link for more FAQs from the Egg Safety Center.