Growing up, Carlos Carbajal Lizárraga loved animals and being out in the countryside. So, when it came time for him to go to the University, he chose agronomy – the study of crops and soils – as his major, as well as worked on nearby farms with laying hens.
After graduation and in 2009, Carlos, his brother Javier, co-founded Ponedoras Pachacamac, an 11-hectare (27 acres) farm, in Lima, Peru, with a warm and temperate climate, perfect for raising laying hens. Built on an appreciation for animal welfare, the two farmers refused to debeak their chickens and created a cage-free production system, so the laying hens could move around and exhibit natural behaviors, like dustbathing and flapping their wings.
“We wanted to produce quality food while respecting the animals,” says Carlos.
Diet is an important part of Ponedoras Pachacamac’s quality care. They feed their 25,000 laying hens grains without animal by-products, antibiotics and hormones. Hens that lay eggs for their “Ovofeliz” brand eat grains, such as maze and soybeans, which produces a better-quality egg. Hens that lay eggs for their “Ovoandino” brand are fed Andean grains, such as Quinoa, Kiwicha, and Cañihua, “which produces a superior egg with better fatty acid profiles, less cholesterol, and higher vitamin content,” says Carlos.
While they know they are giving their customers a quality product, “the most reward comes from observing their laying hens, unrestricted and moving throughout the day,” says Carlos. “I love seeing the hens around midday – after most of them have laid their eggs – dust bathing in the litter. This behavior is natural for the birds, and would be impossible for them to do if they were confined to cages.”
From the quality of the animals’ environment to the quality of the grains they eat, everything Ponedoras Pachacamac does is designed to a provide a higher-level of care and more freedom, “which makes the birds less stressed and more relaxed,” says Carlos. “This is not just good for the animal, but produces a better-quality egg for our customers.”
When Carlos and Javier discovered the Certified Humane® program online, they immediately felt the international farm animal welfare certification program fit with their farm’s philosophy and system of animal welfare. “We firmly believe that the whole system must be in balance to produce well and sustainably,” says Carlos. “Through the Certified Humane program, we consider the number of animals per square meter and the number of feeders, drinkers, and perches needed for the hens. We provide a comfortable environment where temperatures are monitored, and gases (like ammonia from waste) are highly-regulated so they are always receiving fresh air.”
In 2012, Ponedoras Pachacamac became the first farm in Peru to receive Certified Humane certification. The Certified Humane label appears on both their egg brands and educates customers about the importance of farm animal welfare.
“Consumers are just starting to learn about farm animal welfare and are asking for food raised under animal welfare standards,” says Carlos. “The Certified Humane® label lets them know what standards we follow.”
For more information, visit www.ponedoraspachacamac.com.