Egg farmer Susan Schafers' family farmGood morning! Today I would like to introduce you to my family and my girls. Here is a picture of my parents, brother and three kids. My parents started STS Farms in the early 1960’s and it has evolved over the years from a few hundred laying hens to having a broiler breeder barn, a grain farming sector, a small cow-calf herd, and back to being home to 7,000 free-run egg laying hens. There are also five barns where I raise pullets.

I realize that sometimes there are terms that aren’t common for everyone, so I’ll try to make sure that I explain what I mean. A pullet is a chick that I raise from one-day-old to 19 weeks of age. I buy these chicks from specialized commercial hatcheries that only sell laying hens, not meat birds. I raise about 120,000 pullets a year, most of which are supplied to other egg farms in Alberta and British Columbia.

Egg farmer Susan Schafers gathers eggs in free-run barnI’ve already introduced you to my family, but here are my girls… you can’t see all of them in one shot, but they are the heart of my farm. In case you’re wondering, the breed of hen I raise is Lohmann Brown leghorn. Through my experience raising hens, I’ve discovered that this breed works well with my preferred hen housing system. The hens are housed in what is termed a free-run barn, which means that they can move around freely throughout the barn, eat nutritious feed and drink fresh water whenever they want, and have nest boxes to lay their eggs in privacy. The birds are very curious and large groups follow me around the length of the barn, whenever I check the flock or gather floor eggs. They even like to peck at my pant legs and shoe laces!

Eggs are gathered twice daily, and we store them in a cooler until the grading station picks them up. The farm has always had laying hens; gathering eggs was my first job and it has always been my favorite job on the farm! When I was younger (ok, a lot younger), eggs were gathered by hand and a push-cart was used to store them on, as I walked up and down the rows. As with most industries, new and better technologies help us improve our efficiency. In upcoming posts, I’ll show more pictures of the egg packer and explain how it works. The grading station washes, sorts and packages the eggs before shipping them to various grocery stores, ensuring that you and your family have fresh, local eggs to use to create all sorts of delicious dishes!

Soon, I’ll share which recipe my kids ask for on every birthday, every weekend, and every day if they could. What is your favorite egg dish?