Darlene Gallegos and her husband, Joe Espinoza, Jr., raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) laying hens on pasture at their 61-acre farm in Rainsville, about 35 miles northeast of Santa Fe in New Mexico.
Farming has been in both Darlene and Joe’s lives since they were kids. For Darlene, growing up in Portales, NM, her family kept a garden and from an early age she remembers her chores included plowing the fields. Joe has lived on a ranch his entire life and he helped to raise the family’s animals.
Today, Darlene and Joe raise around 250 Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW tradional breed laying hens, including Barred and White Rocks, Rhode Island Reds and Black Astralorps, with plans to introduce Wyandottes, Americanas and Sussex to the flock soon. Each breed has unique characteristics, which add to the sustainability of the flock and result in great tasting eggs with a variety of colorful shells. Once the chickens at ET Organic Farm & Ranch are finished laying, they live out their time on the farm and keep the peacocks company.
Darlene explains that she has very productive laying hens, which she credits to more than her high-welfare farming practices. “My Grandma shared with me many remedies for chicken health and for increased egg production,” shares Darlene. “I call them my ‘ancient secrets,’ like adding peppers to their water to keep the animals’ warm during winter.” Grandma’s secrets aren’t the only thing working to her advantage on the farm: Joe and Darlene also credit their border collie, Alexa, for helping to protect the laying hens from predators. “We got her when she was a puppy and the first thing she saw was chickens,” explains Joe. “She lets us know if there’s a predator around and if we see her jumping up, we know something’s going on. She’s their protector.”
Darlene and Joe learned about the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW program through agricultural groups, particularly the Los de Mora Local Growers’ Cooperative, which asked ET Organic Farm & Ranch to become certified. “Improving our marketing was also a driver to becoming certified with AGW,” explains Darlene. “The Los de Mora Local Growers’ Cooperative explained how being Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW would help us get in the door to sell more products. We plan to use AGW’s branded egg cartons and other marketing materials to convey to our customers exactly how we raise our animals!”
Joe and Darlene are excited to share their Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised chicken eggs through the Los de Mora Local Growers Cooperative and to their local community under the ET Organic Farm & Ranch brand. The Los de Mora Local Growers’ Cooperative is a producer-owned coop made up of 35 small family farms and ranches. Selling through a cooperative offers many advantages: By aggregating and coordinating supply, for example, the Los de Mora Cooperative has been able to secure larger market opportunities for individual family farm members that would be impossible to achieve on their own.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised chicken eggs from ET Organic Farm & Ranch are available at the Eagle’s Nest and Las Vegas Tri-County Farmers’ Markets, as well as at the Los de Mora farm store in Cleveland and at the Valley Ranch Supply in Mora, NM. For more information about ET Organic Farm & Ranch, contact Darlene at email@example.com and at 575-387-5461 or 575-455-0808.