Jonathan Herron, founder of Huevos Las Praderas in Mala, Lima, grew up in the U.S. in rural Ohio, where cows, hens, pigs and other farm animals were part of most every family’s daily life. “Almost all the young people living there had to learn how to work in the field and take care of animals from a very young age,” says Herron.
Herron always cared about the welfare of farm animals, and felt the lessons learned in his youth had more to do with what not to do rather than what one should do to provide humane care. So, when he opened the first organic certified egg farm in Hawaii, he made sure to join the Certified Humane® program.
“I knew the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label meant something to consumers in the U.S.,” says Herron. “They know it means that animals are receiving the highest levels of animal care.”
When Herron moved to Peru and decided to start an egg farm there with Ralth Arredondo, he was excited to learn that the Certified Humane® label meant something to consumers in South America too. “We are a free-range farm and transparency nowadays is more important than ever to consumers,” says Herron. “Certified Humane® drives the cage-free movement.”
So, when they launched Heuvos Las Praderas, the partners agreed to do things right, which meant putting the welfare of their hens and their environment before profit.
“We produce free-range eggs, always on green pastures, free of harmful chemicals,” says Herron. “We provide a natural environment with lots of trees and green spaces where hens can feel like their ancestors, digging through the woods. We provide music to calm the birds. We treat them with love, and everything we do is for them. We really believe that these conditions translate into the best free-range eggs in the country and that you can feel the freedom in the taste of our product.”
Mala, Lima, has a variety of weather conditions that the farmers are quick to accommodate. One day it can be very hot, which requires good management, lots of water and shade. When it’s cold, the hens stay closer to the heated barn. Like anywhere, Mother Nature also presents some challenges. In2017, when mudslides covered up one of their barns, they weren’t sure if they would be able to continue egg production. But their community of followers believe in better welfare for farm animals and encourage them to persevere.
“Internally, we operate like a big family, which means everyone pitched in and supports each other,” says Herron. “Our general manager, Kevin Marquez, for example, can come back from a sales meeting and will take out the trash, carry a bag of feed, or pick up eggs. Our staff just pitches in wherever they can.”
Huevos Las Praderas also influences other producers and farmers in the region. “We want to encourage them to put their hens’ welfare before profits to lead a new wave of cage-free hen egg products,” says Herron.
Huevos Las Praderas produces free range brown eggs, which are served at several area restaurants, including El Bodegón, Panchita, and Astrid & Gaston of the Internationally-Renowned Chef Gastón Acurio. The eggs also can be found in organic stores and health food stores in and around Lima, and through their website for home delivery.
“Home delivery gives us a chance to meet our customers and answer questions in person about the Certified Humane program,” says Herron. “We love talking to people, but also feel the photos and videos of the animals and our special tours of our farm also show how much we care about the welfare of our hens. The hens’ welfare is our top priority. It’s the least we can do since they produce nutrition for us.”