Back in the early 19th century, “we always gave our laying hens more space to roam around than other producers of that time,” says Mark Woodward, co-owner of the Oakdell Egg Farms. “To this day, caring about how our hens are raised remains a cornerstone of our farming philosophy.”
Mark Woodward and Cliff Lillywhite are co-owners of Oakdell Egg Farms, headquartered in North Salt Lake City, Utah. Related by marriage, the brothers-in-law say their family farm dates to 1905 when Mark’s grandfather, Cecil Woodward and his bride Bertha, received ten chickens as a wedding gift from their family. The newlyweds began incubating eggs and raising chickens, which soon numbered 500. By 1920, the couple was raising more than 2,000 laying hens in a cage-free environment.
Egg collecting was done by hand until the 1960’s when the farm introduced an automated egg collection system for their now 50,000 hens. Mark says, “The process was really semi-automated. I can remember not being allowed to open Christmas presents on Christmas morning until the hens had been feed and some of the eggs were collected by hand.”
During that same period, the farm moved the birds up off the floor and worked to prevent wild birds and other animals from co-mingling with hens to reduce disease and improve food safety. After a few years though, they went back to cage-free production realizing “it’s what consumers wanted,” says Cliff.
Today, Oakdell Egg Farm’s flock live in cage-free aviaries on three of our four farms in Washington, Idaho, and Utah with 500 to 600 acres per farm. “The birds like to move vertically,” says Mark. “So, the aviaries are built high up, so the birds can perch wherever they want and roost up there when they sleep at night.”
Currently, Oakdell raises several thousand hens per farm under Certified Humane® standards.
“When we learned how in sync our own animal welfare practices were with Certified Humane’s animal welfare standards, we knew we wanted to become Certified, Humane,” says Mark. “It’s a label we trust and know consumers also trust.”
Oakdell Egg Farm eggs are available in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, and Montana. Most of Oakdell’s eggs, however, are sold under grocery store brand names, so visit Certified Humane’s “Where to Buy” page or download the app to find Certified Humane® eggs near you.
“This is a rewarding business,” says Cliff. “Not always financially, but we know we provide a high-quality food for people, and from a food safety standpoint we do all we can to make sure to provide the end user with a safe, nutritious, healthy product, while at the same time ensuring the welfare of our birds.”
To learn more, visit their website at: Oakdell Egg Farms