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Five Roosters, 184 Hens and Many Pastures: Tunitas Creek Organic Eggs

Flock produces up to 150 eggs a day from Half Moon Bay farm.

 

Inside the kitchen building at Half Moon Bay's , an assortment of light brown, blue, and off-white eggs cover a table. Some are piled in a blue wire basket and some are nestled cheek to cheek in forest green-colored flats, while others rest on a towel in a multicolored array.

It's no wonder there are a lot of eggs here. They're a main focus for Jay and Suzie Trexler, farm managers who run Tunitas Creek Organic Eggs as a separate business from the work they do cultivating 2 acres and 40 crops comprising 100 varieties of vegetables at Potrero Nuevo.

Each day, the group of 184 hens produces between 140 to 150 eggs a day, according to the Trexlers. Five roosters complete the flock.

"It gets pretty busy in the mornings here," Suzie laughed while standing inside a kelly green cotton-picking trailer she and her husband converted to a mobile coop. Every morning at 7 a.m., Suzie says, she enters the coop to collect eggs among a busy flock of hens taking turns to lay their eggs in the nest boxes.

By moving the coop every week on a new patch of farmland, the Trexlers' flock are guaranteed an abundant supply of fresh greens and a mix of legumes to feed from — including clover, vetch, bell beans and oats, Suzie says.

It's this constant new supply of food on the range which makes the eggs qualified as pastured. They've also been certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers.

"We raise the chickens across 15 acres of fields," Jay says.

But since the chickens need more protein than the pasture can provide, the couple supplements their diet with a feed containing soy, molasses, wheat and soybean meal.

The Trexlers met at UC Santa Cruz's Farming Apprentice program and moved to Potrero Nuevo in August 2010, where they got married. They then started the pastured egg business in December of last year when farm owners Bill Laven and Christine Pielenz decided to suspend the bulk of their CSA operation in favor of donating 80 percent of the farm's produce to and , local community organizations which redistribute the food to those in need.

As a contribution to greater biodiversity at farms, the couple chose seven different heritage breeds to fill out their flock: Delaware, Buff Orpington, Black Austaralorp, Americanas, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds and Barred Rock.

"They produce a beautiful carton of eggs," Suzie says.

The pastured eggs offer an amped-up source of nutrients compared to conventionally produced eggs.

"They have one-third of the cholesterol, one-fourth of the saturated fat, two to four times of Omega-3 fatty acids, seven times the amount of beta carotene, two-thirds more Vitamin A as well as three times more Vitamin E," Suzie says.

Even the couple's Great Pyrenees dog Bear has been reaping the benefits of the eggs, they say.

"We feed him a raw egg every day with his breakfast — it's good for his coat," Jay says of the friendly youngster covered in thick and soft white fur.

The couple sells their eggs at the Bike Hut at the farm, as well as at Harley Farms in Pescadero. Tunitas Creek Organic Eggs are also available through the CSA and at a discount through a buying club in Half Moon Bay, where subscribers can pick up their purchases in town alongside pastured chickens and turkeys from Pescadero's and grass-fed beef, lamb and pork from , thanks to a partnership with Local FATT. Customers can also pickup their eggs each week at Potrero Nuevo Farm.

Chef Jose Luis Ugalde and Liam Durkee also purchase their eggs for use in the food at , Suzie says.

"They've been so great and supportive," Jay says of the restaurant owners.

While they're still dedicated to their flock, the couple recently added three Berkshire Tamworth pigs to their group of charges — small, brown-skinned animals which are prized in Japan for their meat. Jay says the pigs will weigh 225 pounds at six months, the time of their slaughter.

"It's our first year with the pigs," he said. "We'll see how that goes and go from there."

Tunitas Creek Organic Eggs are available for $7/dozen (cash only) at the Bike Hut at Potrero Nuevo Farm. One dozen is $6.75 if purchased through the buying club (once dozen a week for a three-month subscription). For more infomation, contact Jay and Suzie Trexler at eggs@potreronuevofarm.org

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Rebecca Holland May 13, 2012 at 03:57 PM
The first clue that you get that these eggs are going to taste better, a LOT better is…they SMELL good. Break the egg, leave the shells on the counter while you enjoy breakfast, come back later and they still smell fresh and sweet.

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