Free-range chickens are coming

By Frederique Lang

The growing demand for free range organic eggs could mean a resurgence of backyard chicken coops in the Town of Brome Lake.

An industrial-sized egg producer from L’Ange Gardien has studied the method used by the Duck Farm in Knowlton, that is farming out production, and has come up with a way to produce certified free-range organic eggs by using backyard operations tending towards small flocks.

“We would send out started pullets (hens that are about ready to lay) and place them in backyard chicken coops in the Town of Brome Lake. We have chosen one municipality because it’s easier to manage, has a nearby fish source and it is just down Highway 10 from our operation in L’Ange Gardien,” says Guylaine Ladouceur, the owner of Les Oeufs d’Angéle.

The family-owned operation has 20,000 hens laying indoors, butit is unable to get organic and free-range certification. The operation will start small with 10 to 30 hens going to people with facilities that meet Madame Ladouceur’s exacting standards.

She says local providers of organic feed and started pullets are ready to supply local needs. These chickens are going to be fed an all-natural fish diet (fish obtained from Brome Lake). The only down side will be a slightly fishy smell to the eggs. The breed to be used is called sexed hybrids, a prolific egg producer, the kind bought from feed stores every spring. They are called ‘sexed’ because when the chicks are born, the males are a different colour from the females; hybrid because they are a mixture of different breeds with strong egg laying traits.

TBL will have to hire an inspector dedicated to keeping the free range pullets from feeding the local foxes and supper tables.

The project is expected to start this spring. Read more below …