The Janaway family farm hundreds of acres of the Hampshire countryside, mainly growing potatoes. While the rest of his family farm conventionally, Duncan Janaway has taken on 90 acres to grow a mix of organic vegetables and herbs, and raise hens for organic eggs.
“I’m still learning. You need to do a lot more planning when farming organically,” says Duncan. “You can’t just stick it all in the ground and hope. The rotations are also very important.”
The Soil Association’s organic certification demands the highest standards of animal welfare of any farming system, according to Compassion in World Farming. Jerry and Duncan’s hens have a fantastic quality of life; they spend 365 days a year pottering freely on clean organic pasture, with grass and clover to forage in, trees, shelters, and sand pits for scratching. Unlike the majority of UK hens (including free range) they will never have their beaks trimmed; a painful practice used to prevent stressed birds from pecking each other. Instead, stress is avoided in the first place, by giving the birds as natural and enjoyable a life as possible.
The hens are encouraged to leave their spacious houses each morning and engage in natural behaviours. They get plenty of human interaction, being checked on and chatted to throughout the day. Everything they’re fed is 100% organic – including some of Riverford’s graded out veg! Because their feed doesn’t contain any additives or artificial colouring agents, the colour of the hens’ egg yolks is natural and can vary. Whether golden or paler hued, the rich flavour is just the same.
All our egg boxes are mixed sizes and colours. Hens are not machines; it’s not natural for them to produce eggs that are completely uniform! By accepting mixed boxes that include smaller eggs laid by younger hens, and the larger, paler hens laid by older ones, our customers not only prevent waste – you also allow the hens to enjoy longer lives.