In 2008, Jennifer Curtis and Tina Prevatte Levy, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Firsthand Foods, merged…
Nathan and Jessica Gaude always wanted to start a small farm: “We had some friends who were raising chickens and, after visiting their farm in Virginia, we figured this was something we could do,” says Jessica. “We started with a few chicks and quickly caught the ‘chicken bug.’ We now have about 30 laying hens and are really enjoying our farm!”
The property that Nathan and Jessica bought—and now call Jurassic Flock Farm—has been in Jessica’s family for many years. Their ingenuity inspired them to convert an area of the farm for their newly hatched plan to raise laying hens. A half-acre fenced-in area that was originally designated as a dog lot became a chicken yard, while an old children’s playhouse was quickly converted into a chicken coop. “We modified it for our needs—it’s large enough for us to stand up inside and there are several runs attached, so the girls can come and go to the yard or coop as they please,” explains Nathan.
Jurassic Flock Farm is now home to a variety of laying hen breeds, including Wyandottes, Cochins, Easter Eggers, Brahmas, Cream Legbars, Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps and several varieties of Marans. Nathan and Jessica researched laying hen breeds that were well suited to the climate of northeast Tennessee, with mild winters and warm summers, selecting a diversity of laying hens because of the multi-colored eggs the chickens produce, which range from “deep moss green to light blue to many shades of brown,” says Nathan.
The Gaudes decided to become Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) for their pasture-raised laying hens because they wanted to show customers they were raising their animals according to the highest standards of animal husbandry. “We originally wanted to go for an organic certification and quickly realized we would never be able to afford that,” Nathan explains. “Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW is an even better certification for us, as it takes the animals’ welfare into consideration, and that was our goal all along. Once we started to read the standards, we only had to make a few slight modifications to be in full compliance, so we were very excited to join forces with A Greener World and showcase the hard work we put in on our little farm.”
The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW program ensures animals are raised outdoors on pasture, which has known benefits for animal health. “We believe that our animals are not only healthier when they have full access to pasture, but they are happier, too. While we can’t actually tell if they are smiling, we do notice they get along with each other better and they lay more often. It’s pretty clear they enjoy chasing bugs and running around the pasture!” says Nathan.
In the longer term, Nathan and Jessica plan to add a second, larger coop, supplying enough eggs to sell at local markets consistently. “This spring, we are adding bees to our farm and we are looking at other options as we consider how to expand and become more self-sufficient,” Nathan adds.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised eggs from Jurassic Flock Farm are available direct from the farm in Kingsport, TN. For more information, visit jurassicflockfarm.com and find them on Facebook. Contact Nathan and Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org and 865-323-1776.