Visit to Pete and Gerry's in NH
by Pete on June 30th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago Jen and I had the opportunity to tour Pete and Gerry's Organic Egg farm in New Hampshire. Jen is participating in a SARE (sustainable agriculture research and education) grant which is aimed at improving poultry knowledge of New England ag. extension-type folks...I got to tag along! Pete and Gerrry's is one of the regions largest egg farms and much of their production is certified organic. They are a 3rd generation poultry farm and still very much a family run operation and are expanding rapidly to meet the demand for regional/local high quality eggs you can trust.
Jesse LeFlamme, pictured to the left, is the son of Gerry and co-owner. He spent hours with us touring the washing and packing facility as well as showing us the egg layer barns. He was a gracious host and clearly loves the business.
Pete and Gerry's is a BIG poultry farm for the region. On site they housed over 140,000 hens in several large barns. In addition they contract with growers who grow another 500,000 or so birds throughout New England...and they are looking for more farmers! So if you know of anyone who has $500,000 to build a "modern" layer barn with all the bells and whistles, and wants to grow 20,000 birds give Jesse a call!
Our impressions of the business were mixed. Jesse and his family clearly work hard to run their business well and are transparent about the whole operation. This is totally contrary to the industry itself which hides it's production practices. So a big kudos to Jesse, Gerry and the entire business. All such farms should be as open. The issue is that while the birds are certified organic, they are still barn birds raised in a fairly high-density setting with limited access to the outdoors. I still think that when the general public thinks of cage-free organic birds, they tend to think of a more bucolic setting. In fact, just about all organic eggs in the U.S. are raised this way, or worse. The barns we visited looked very clean and well kept and they all had outside runs for the birds to visit. These runs, also called "wintergardens" allow access to the outside through many pop-holes in the side of the barn. With the "wintergarden" and barn space, the birds have about 1.5 square feet of space each....eons better than caged birds but not quite free-ranging on pasture like our birds.

All in all I'd say if you are in search of high-quality eggs and can't find a small farm like ours to purchase from - Pete and Gerry's is the next best thing. They care about the environment, seek to care for the birds the best they can, they are primarily organic and are maintain their business as a family enterprise who take pride in their business and the eggs they are producing.
This is a photo of a brand new barn they were finishing. You can see the plastic flooring for the birds where poop can drop through and be carried away. On the right are the colony nest boxes, which are low floor mounted big open nest boxes with a front flap for privacy. Many birds fit in each box, they lay their eggs and the eggs roll backwards and down into a central conveyor belt which brings the eggs directly to the wash room. Water is kept super clean through nipple waterers and feed is automated in troughs. Similar set-ups supposedly require only a couple hours of daily egg packing to care for 10-20,000 hens!
Below are photos of their packing line, outdoor access for the birds, a broad shot of the farm and more...


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1 Comments

JT - July 7th, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Thanks for blogging about this. It looks like they run a very nice operation and I would certainly eat their eggs, but it is not my prefered style of egg production. Is the outside access bedded? Does that mean it is concrete? I personally prefer that chickens have access to pasture. As a person who raises layers myself, I am also an happy when MY feet get to touch the pasture too. Keep up your great work. Your eggs are the best!
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