On the farm
America’s egg farmers invite you to learn more about where eggs come from and the efforts they make to take care of our communities, hens and planet.
Meet The Farmers
As America’s egg farmers, we are committed to delivering high-quality eggs and following the highest standards for caring for our animals and the land we farm. See the egg production process first-hand and get to know us better!
Brey's Egg Farm, Bethel, NY
Founded in 1932 by Harold Brey, the egg farm is today run by Harold’s grandson Daniel Brey, his wife Nancy, and their youngest daughter Vanessa. Together they oversee the daily production of 228,000 eggs and the care and feeding of 350,000 chickens and 50 Hereford cattle.
At just 24 years old, Harold’s great-granddaughter Vanessa will be assuming responsibility for the legacy of this family farm – the last egg farm in Sullivan County.
“People ask me what I do. When I tell them I’m a farmer, they’re a little bit shocked,” she said, laughing. “A lot of people think women in agriculture get the easier jobs, but that’s not how it is here. I don’t mind the manual labor. It’s like I get paid to work out.”
Vanessa notes the farm has come a long way from its humble beginnings. “In 1932, my family started farming with 10 milking cows and 200 chickens. We built our first chicken coop for 1,500 hens in 1943 and a second in 1954 for an additional 3,600 hens. In 1995, we added a feed-mill, so the farm could produce our own special blend of grains to feed our chickens. My dad also reintroduced beef cows to the farm along with hay, compost, topsoil and poultry manure as side products. The farm is also now outfitted with state-of-the-art technology that gives every hen more space in a community-living environment,” she explained.
Brey’s Egg Farm today employs about 20 people, including entire families on staff. “We’re very much a family here. Our employees depend on us, and that’s a huge responsibility. I love that everyone cares so much,” Vanessa remarked.
Vanessa is particularly proud of the care taken with the farm’s hens. “I love that I know I’m taking care of my chickens. They have a good home here,” she said. Brey’s Egg Farm raises its hens from one-day old. Their feed mill is onsite, which blends the ingredients to make different kinds of feed for each stage of a chicken’s development.
“We’re proud to be farmer-owned,” Vanessa said. “We do our best, humanly possible to give people the best and most natural products.”
“People need to learn more about what is involved in producing eggs,” she added. “People don’t realize how much work goes into feeding this country.”
Vanessa admits farming might not be an obvious career choice for many young women today, but it came naturally to her. “As a kid I, I had an instinct for farming. I’d always be in the coops. I’d be packing eggs. I actually had to stand on a milk crate. I just wanted to work so bad,” she recalled.
“I couldn’t let this place go,” concluded Vanessa.
Sunrise Acres Egg Farm, Hudsonville, MI
Joe Patmos and his brother, Doug, are part of the third generation of farmers at Sunrise Acres Egg Farm. They care deeply and work hard to do right by their hens, the environment and their community in Hudsonville, Michigan.
About the Farm
Joe and Doug’s grandparents, Marvin and June Patmos, started with 100 chickens and 30 acres of farmland in 1949. In the 1980s, their father, Bill, and his brother, Dick, took over daily operations. Today, with more than 7,000 acres, Sunrise Acres remains a family business: Joe oversees Sunrise Acres’ egg operations, while Doug focuses on growing their crops and caring for their baby chicks and hens.
The farm is completely integrated — meaning the Patmos family and team manage nearly the entire process, from planting seed in the fields to grow the feed for their flocks, all the way to delivering the eggs to the customer’s door.
Every day the Patmos’ care for more than 2 million hens and a half-million baby chicks (from one day old) and pullets. They farm and care for the Michigan farmland that feeds their hens, producing corn and soybeans specifically and only for their hen and chick farms. They buy additional grains from local West Michigan farmers, helping to keep those farms sustainable. These ingredients are mixed and processed at the farm’s newly rebuilt feed mill, which produces quality feed specially formulated for each of their flocks under family supervision.
The Patmos’ package their own eggs daily and transport them to market with their Sunrise Acres truck fleet. Having their hands on the entire process — from crop in the field to the customer receiving docks — ensures care and high quality standards are maintained at every step.
Q&A with Joe Patmos
Why did you decide to be a farmer?
Growing up, I honestly wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a farmer or not. I was raised in a house that was 50 yards away from a hen house, and I was immersed in the lifestyle as a child. I learned from my parents the huge responsibility that comes with caring for animals. Over time, I realized just how much farming was in my blood. After completing business school, I joined our farm full-time and found a passion for being a part of the next generation at Sunrise Acres. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a farmer and to be a part of the next generation of America’s farmers.
What does farming mean to you personally?
My wife and I both grew up in farm families, so in a lot of ways farming is a lifestyle to us and is a piece of our family and history. Farming also comes with stewardship — caring for hens, the land, the environment, and resources — a personal responsibility not to be taken lightly.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing how everything comes together. We lay the seed and wait; by God’s grace, the harvest comes up in season. We work hard to feed our hens right and care for them to the best of our ability, and they lay a nutritional powerhouse of a food! Also, it is rewarding to be able to provide this incredible food to others inexpensively and to be able to build great relationships with others involved in the food industry.
What would you like people to know about egg farming that they may not?
Caring for animals is a 24/7 job. For the farmer, there is no turning it off. There is so much hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and care from a lot of people that goes into producing an affordable, high-quality protein source for families to pick up at the grocery store.
Creighton Brothers Farms, Warsaw, IN
In order to continue being the successful family business their fathers envisioned back in 1925, they focus their unwavering attention, first and foremost, to the best care for their hens, on being responsible stewards of the land, and by providing superior standards for product quality and food safety.
Mindy Truex is proud of her work as a third-generation egg farmer who is committed to caring for her animals and providing nutritious, affordable eggs. She works on a large range of projects and helps keep her 160+ family owners informed. Every day, the family and employees care for 3 million hens, 5,000 sows and 9,000 acres of crop ground.
Located in Warsaw, Indiana, Creighton Brothers produces eggs, pork, corn and soybeans. Their eggs are also processed for use in foodservice and manufacturing and as ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs.
Willamette Egg Farms, Canby, OR
Members of the Satrum family have been raising hens since 1852, and officially started Willamette Egg Farms in 1934 when Great Uncle Tom began delivering eggs to businesses in the Portland area. From there, the family farm grew, and today, the third-generation egg farm houses 2.2 million hens and produces more than 1.8 million eggs every day.
Midwest Poultry Services, Mentone, IN
Midwest Poultry Services is an egg farming tradition in Indiana. The fifth-generation operation has been family-owned and operated since 1875 and now houses more than two million hens. The Krouse family is committed to the community, providing sustainable jobs and an outlet for local farmers with 20,000 acres of corn.
Bob’s family business started in North Manchester, Indiana, in 1875 with a water powered grain mill on the Eel River. Today, the family still has a feed mill on that same farm, and Bob’s son Dan recently came to work in the family business as part of the sixth generation.
Today, Midwest Poultry Services is the 8th largest egg producer in this country with 300 employees and 8.5 million hens spread across farms in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. And the farm still produces all of its own feed — more than 500 million pounds per year, buying 40,000 acres of corn from local farmers and soybean meal from 45,000 acres.
Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs, Clarence, NY
Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs, a farm run by 17 family members. Since 1924, the Kreher family has been committed to producing, marketing and distributing high-quality, safe and affordable eggs in Western and Central, NY.
Karyn started working at Kreher’s while she was an undergraduate student studying poultry science. During that summer, one of the previous owners, Don, would take her to the various contract farms to teach me all of the many details of each farm and for hands-on experience.
In her current role as Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance, she’s responsible for maintaining Kreher’s food safety and quality standards and making sure that the family adheres to the values that have guided their family for 90 years. To meet the demands of grocery stores, they’ve expanded, while managing to keep the family farm and business strong. She has found that ensuring the safety and quality of eggs for families has been extremely fulfilling.
Hickman’s Family Farms, Buckeye, AZ
Hickman’s Family Farms is Arizona’s largest – and only – egg producer. The third-generation operation that began on Grandma Hickman’s backyard porch has been family-owned and operated in Arizona since 1944 and now houses more than four million hens.
In addition to their commitment to providing fresh eggs for a good price, Hickman’s Family Farms utilizes stringent methods of conservation and recycling to remain as environmentally-friendly as possible. Always a “good egg” and supporter of the community, Clint and the Hickman family contribute to a variety of charitable efforts and causes year-round in Arizona.
Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, Saranac, MI
Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch is Michigan’s largest egg farm, producing 60 percent of Michigan’s eggs. The third-generation operation that began with 6,000 hens has been family-owned and operated in Michigan since 1958 and now houses more than five million hens.
The Herbrucks have 81 hen houses, and raise a number of different breeds of hens, which produce a variety of types of eggs, such as brown organic, cage free and conventional white table eggs. In addition to ensuring bird comfort, egg quality and variety, the Herbrucks are committed to making their farm operations sustainable for future generations.
Esbenshade Farms, Mount Joy, PA
Esbenshade Farms started in 1963, but the family’s farming history dates back seven generations. Alongside employees who share its commitment to excellence and integrity, the Esbenshade family cares for its hens, monitoring their comfort, health and safety. Chris Esbenshade, the second generation to lead the egg farm, is proud to produce high-quality eggs for his family and yours.
His parents, Glenn and Rachael Esbenshade, started with a small flock of hens in 1963 that has grown to include more than 2 million hens today. Chris is honored to produce an all-natural, nutritious, safe and affordable food that continues his family’s history in agriculture, which has been their way of life since the early 1800s.
Their hens’ comfort, health and safety are the top priority at Esbenshade Farms, where a state-of-the-art farm allows hens to live comfortably in a safe, climate-controlled environment while reducing their carbon footprint.
Why I Farm
America’s egg farmers are committed to doing what’s right for their hens, the environment and their communities. Hear from America’s egg farmers in this “Why I Farm” series below:
Farm To Table
Delivering our eggs from the hen house to your grocery store is a very efficient, clean and thorough process. We take great care in providing you with the freshest and most nutritious product.
Hens are fed high-quality, nutritionally balanced feed made up mostly of corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals.
Go To Next Step
On some farms, eggs are still gathered by hand, but on most of today’s farms, automated gathering belts do the job.
Go To Next Step
The egg washing process sanitizes the eggs.
Go To Next Step
Egg shells are translucent enough to allow “candling” – holding the egg up to a light source and inspecting the interior for quality without breaking the shell.
Go To Next Step
Sorting & Packing
Eggs are sorted, according to size (minimum weight per dozen), and are placed large-end up in cartons.Go To Next Step
Eggs are shipped in refrigerated trucks. Most eggs arrive at your local store within a week after being laid.
Go To Next Step
Selling & Storing
Eggs must be refrigerated. They will age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator.
Go To Next Step
America’s egg farmers produce a high-quality, safe product that provides all-natural, high-quality protein.
Farmers Offer Choice: Egg Types
America’s egg farmers believe in consumer choice and work hard to provide you with the highest-quality variety of eggs, no matter what kind of eggs you choose.
Depending on your preference, you can spend anywhere from about $1.50 per dozen for conventional eggs, to more than $3.00 per dozen for specialty eggs, which typically cost more to produce. Following is more information on some of the most common eggs.
- Conventional Eggs
Eggs laid by hens living in cages with access to feed, water and security. The cages serve as nesting space. In this type of hen house, the birds are more readily protected from the elements, disease and natural and unnatural predators.
- Free-Range Eggs
Eggs produced by hens that have access to outdoors in accordance with weather, environmental or state laws. In addition to consuming a diet of grains, these hens may forage for wild plants and insects. They are provided floor space, nesting space and perches.
- Cage-Free Eggs
Eggs laid by hens at indoor floor operations, sometimes called free-roaming. The hens may roam in a building, room or open area, usually in a barn or poultry house, and have unlimited access to fresh food and water. Some may also forage for food if they are allowed outdoors. Cage-free systems vary and include barn-raised and free-range hens, both of which have shelter that helps protect against predators. Both types are produced under common handling and care practices, which provide floor space, nest space and perches. Depending on the farm, these housing systems may or may not have an automated egg collection system.
- Organic Eggs
Eggs produced according to national U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards related to methods, practices and substances used in producing and handling crops, livestock and processed agricultural products. Organic eggs are produced by hens fed rations with ingredients that were grown without most conventional pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers.
- Enriched Colony
A production system that contains adequate environmental enrichments to provide perch space, dust bathing or a scratch area(s), and nest space to allow the layers to exhibit inherent behavior. Enriched colony systems are American Humane Certified.
An egg farmer’s livelihood depends on the production of high-quality eggs. The production of high-quality eggs depends on nurturing healthy hens. Nurturing healthy hens depends on the right diet, housing, lighting, water and overall living conditions. As egg farmers, we want happy hens on our farms and want you to feel good about the eggs you buy!
America’s egg farmers are committed to the health and well-being of their hens and dedicated to providing their customers with fresh, nutritious eggs. Light, housing, diet and health are very important to the production process in order to provide high-quality egg, and therefore, very important to egg farmers.
Raising Healthy Hens
America’s egg farmers feed their hens food that meets the birds’ daily nutrient requirements. The feed is carefully balanced by a poultry nutrition specialist to combine the right amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
- Soybean Meal
- Growth Hormones