In 2007, Matt O’Hayer and his wife, Catherine, founded Vital Farms with a small plot of farmland, 20 laying hens and a bucket of good intentions. Their mission: to bring high quality, ethically produced eggs to the table through the humane treatment of their hens through the Pasture-Raised farming method.
Animal welfare and the humane treatment of laying hens remains at the heart of Vital Farms’ mission. Their hens (the “Girls on Grass”, or “the Girls”, as they are affectionately called) are provided with plenty of room to roam (108 sq. ft. of pasture for each hen), fresh air, and sunshine year round. “We are very happy to be at the forefront of something that will be revolutionary in agriculture and provide people with a healthy and more ethical alternative to industrial eggs,” says Dan Brooks.
A further representation of Vital Farms’ commitment to a consistent animal welfare standard is their decision to have all their farms designated Certified Humane®. “We wanted a top-shelf, independent certification program to validate for our customers that we walk the walk when it comes to animal welfare,” he adds. “We researched several programs, but Humane Farm Animal Care’s Certified Humane® standards were the most stringent.”
Vital Farms is one of the few pasture-raised egg companies in the United States. Their operations include over 100 farms based in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia, all raising laying hens in a total outdoor pasture system, with access to shelters at night. Vital Farms has experimented with a number of different breeds to be able to find birds that can handle weather extremes and outdoor living.
“Raising hens in an all-pasture system is complicated and relies on highly-trained employees well-versed in pasture-raising and the humane treatment of hens,” says Dan Brooks. “They must protect the hens from predators, as well as occasional inclement weather.”
Vital Farms also created a unique channel for independent family farmers. Recognizing the vulnerability of small farms in the face of a tough economy, they work together with producers to improve their facilities and practices to meet the Certified Humane® standards as well as their own protocols.
“Through Vital Farms, these small independent farms can reach a broad customer base looking for ethically produced and sustainable eggs,” Brooks stated. “The success of the company is defined by its dedicated employees. Everyone who works for Vital Farms is really happy about what they are doing every day. It’s easy to work hard and have a lot of energy when you believe in what you’re doing.”
To learn more, visit their website at: Vital Farm
For information on where to find other Certified Humane® products in your area, visit the “Shop” page of HFAC’s website.