My Mom Helping Care for Baby Goats and Lambs

My mom has always had a soft spot for animals and for as long as I can remember, she's always been there for an animal in need. Over the years, we've rescued or cared for cats/kittens, birds, dogs, lambs, calves, rabbits, and the list goes on. I can't tell you how many abandoned, stray kittens she's found on our farm and nursed to health.

The other day, my mom went to visit a friend and helped feed some baby Nigerian Dwarf goats and Dorper Suffolk cross lambs. The goats were born on January 28th and the lamb was born on January 26th. They're super cute, so take a look at the pictures below.

"Farmer" SuperBowl Commercial

If you watched the SuperBowl, then you probably saw this excellent commercial put on by Dodge highlighting the hard work of farmers. Farming is certainly the original 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a week kind of job. It doesn't matter what day it is, if something goes wrong on the ranch, my dad has to go out and take care of it. No matter what, we always have to make sure our chickens are happy and healthy. If we take care of our chickens, they'll take care of us.

Concerning the Recent Lawsuit

Dear Valued Customers of Sacramento Co-op and Judy‘s Family Farm:

We would like to take a moment to respond to the controversy surrounding some of our egg cartons.  As you may know, an Animal Legal Defense Fund member is suing us, claiming that we have misled consumers into thinking our eggs were produced in open pastures because our carton depicts a boy and girl on the carton interacting with a hen and some of her chicks. The boy and girl were drawn in an outdoor setting, so their claim is that we are somehow telling our customers that all of our hens are raised outdoors.

The cover on our organic egg carton is an artist’s interpretation of us growing up on poultry farms. Neither one of us knew each other then, but we had similar experiences. Judy’s mother used to make her clothes and she got a new Easter bonnet each year when she was a child. Steve wore Lederhosen bib shorts which reflects his upbringing in an immigrant German household. Growing up on a family poultry farm was instrumental in developing and maintaining the values our families instilled in us and that was the inspiration for the boy and girl on the lid.

The inside of the carton also says that our hens are free to scratch, roam and play in wide open spaces. Steve wrote this when we created the carton in 1996. Steve is a farmer, not a technical writer, and he was making the comparison between caged birds and our cage free hens, since he was one of the first to actively produce and promote what was then a radically different way of producing eggs in an industry dominated by large caged operations.

Our barns provide plenty of space for our hens to indulge in their natural instincts of roaming, scratching and dust bathing, and the curtained sides of the houses provide natural light and ventilation that takes advantage of the long days and cool summer breezes of coastal Sonoma and Marin counties.

At the time we created the carton, the organic standard was all about the quality and cleanliness of the food. Food without additives, pesticides, herbicides or antibiotics was what organic meant, and we filled that niche by producing California’s first certified organic egg. In 1996, people didn’t want or expect their eggs to be pastured, so there would have been no commercial advantage for my husband to imply otherwise.

Nowhere on our carton does it state that our hens are “free range” or pastured, yet this lawsuit claims that all of our customers have been duped into thinking that the eggs were produced outdoors and wouldn’t have purchased them otherwise. We wholeheartedly disagree. We believe our customers are more intelligent than that, and that our customers purchased our eggs because they wanted an alternative to eggs from caged hens raised with antibiotics and pesticide/herbicides grown grains. In fact, by supporting our organic farm you have kept thousands of pounds of chemicals out of the environment.

We are proud of the innovations that we have made over the years in providing for the health and welfare of our hens.  The FDA and USDA are currently discussing appropriate monitoring protocols to implement in order to ensure a salmonella-free egg when putting hens in an outdoor or pastured environment.  While we wait for these monitoring protocols to be determined, we have been hard at work for the last two years exploring possible techniques to safely and sustainably raise pastured hens.  Ironically, as you can see, we were working on pastured eggs long before his lawsuit was filed against us.  Despite these inaccurate claims about our egg cartons, we will continue to innovate and provide Northern California families with the best quality eggs at affordable prices.

ALDF has said and implied terrible things about our farm and how we treat our hens, none of which are true. The fact is that we care for our hens as only third generation family farmers can. We strongly believe our customers are intelligent enough to understand the statements on our egg cartons, and to appreciate the cage free environment in which we house our hens and the wholesome and nutritious eggs produced on our farm.

To all the people who like and want to buy cage free organic eggs, buy ours and judge for yourselves whether our eggs are a good alternative to eggs from caged hens.

Sincerely,
Judy and Steve

About Petaluma Egg Farms & the Cornucopia Report Card

Our customers are smart and passionate people who like to make up their own minds. We respect that, as we do their need for credible and reliable information. Toward that end, we are providing our response to key issues raised in the recently issued Wisconsin-based report card, which offers a highly misleading and inaccurate portrayal of Petaluma Egg Farms. This fact sheet is intended to provide essential background and a context for understanding the report card, which we believe lacks credibility in the following critical ways

The Report Card’s Methodology is Biased & Flawed:

It is hard to take seriously any report that relies on third-hand information and assumptions. The approach used by Cornucopia would be like your child being graded by a teacher who never steps foot in the classroom, has never spoken with your child, is unfamiliar with the state educational standards and student demographics and has no grasp of the subject matter.

Here are some very specific problems with the survey:

  • It was self-reporting – so respondents could lie without any way to confirm or dispute their claims
  • We chose not to participate in the survey because we had never heard of this group
  • It is unscientific
  • It was not peer-reviewed
  • The report card authors are from out-of-state and have little, if any, knowledge of California egg farming, ecology, regulations, climate or veterinary medicine
  • They never toured our farm
  • The survey was skewed to micro farms that “pasture” extremely small numbers of hens
  • It ignored the fact our national standards recognize our outdoor access methods
  • It ignores the “totality” of what it means to be organic
  • In doing so, the report card fails to adequately recognize such core organic values as being pesticide free, cage free, etc.
  • We were the only Northern California producer mentioned even though there are at least four other area organic egg producers that were not part of the report.
  • All of these producers have a history of caged production. Each is a “Johnny-Come-Lately” having switched to organic only in the last few years. In contrast, we have been 100% cage free and certified organic for almost 28 years! Why are we being attacked?  
  • The report card inexplicably includes Costco, “O” and Clover brands even though they do not raise chickens or produce eggs themselves.

The Report Card Gives Short Shrift to Critical Organic Principles

It is not surprising that such a questionable survey with no understanding of our operations would result in what is essentially a smear campaign against the hard-earned reputation built over the years by Petaluma Egg Farms. The report places very little weight, if any, on the many ways we humanely treat our hens, our commitment to organic and protecting the environment. Specifically, the report card does not fully acknowledge that our operations are:

  • 100% Certified Organic from the most respected of independent auditors
  • Cage Free
  • Pesticide Free
  • Herbicide Free
  • Hormone Free
  • Antibiotics Free

      Furthermore, our approach offers:

  • Open space that exceeds organic standards
  • Outdoors access via sun porches
  • 100% Organically Certified Vegetarian Feed
  • Abundant natural light
  • Abundant natural air
  • Water conservation
  • Protection to the environment through organic principles, which annually prevents the use of tons of herbicides and pesticides

The Report Card Does Not Understand the Reality of Farming in California

Californians are special people and California is a special state. We have needs and issues that are unique to us – not just statewide, but even regionally within the state. This is especially true for California farmers, who cannot be judged by a cookie-cutter approach from those who don’t appreciate the Golden State. Specifically:

  • California has unique challenges not faced in the Midwest, including water, climate, threat of disease and public health regulations
  • California has a history of serious disease outbreaks, from Avian Influenza to Newcastle Disease and Salmonella
  • State veterinary health officials have strongly advised us to safeguard our birds, who could die en masse from diseases transmitted by wild birds and rodents and spread these diseases to humans, other animals and states

The Report Card Fails to Understand Our Approach to Outdoors 

The key criticism of Petaluma Egg Farms in the report card centers on pasturing of birds – a claim we have never made. We are being attacked for using an alternative method known as the “sun porch” system, which complies with national organic standards for outdoor access. Consider the following:

  • Sun porches extend out from large cage-free pens. This allows hens to step outside without being exposed to disease and predators.
  • Sides of pens are screened which provide natural light and ventilation
  • Hens enjoy perches, nests, and scratch 
  • Sun porches comply with national organic standards for outdoor access
  • We have chosen this method because we believe it is in the best health and safety interests of our hens and our customers
  • The sun porch system provides our birds with the best of both worlds – they are able to exhibit natural behavior in their environment while also remaining protected from the threat of disease and wild animals
  • We will neither jeopardize the lives of our hens nor compromise the safety of our customers    
  • There are indeed many interpretations of what constitutes outdoor access
  • Under our local conditions, we continue to believe that our open-air system combined with sun porches is the best way to humanely and ethically care for our hens while keeping with national organic standards