Supplier Series: Nutritional Farm Pastured Eggs

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Hens in front of shed on Nutritional Farm in Dunsandel, Canterbury, NZ

Welcome back to our Supplier Series!
For a few months, we’ve been buying our eggs from Nutritional Farm Ltd, a young business owned and operated by couple Gretha and Paddy.

You may recall that Brazil-born Gretha used to work at Bellbird! She’s miraculously managed to carve out some time out of her incredibly busy life to answer our questions.

Can you please introduce yourselves?

We are a young couple who moved away from the busy life of Auckland to reach our goals here in Canterbury. We moved away from secure jobs and family with a vision in mind for a better lifestyle.

Fast forward not quite 3 years and we are living our dream! We have a small farm which we have built from scratch, a gorgeous young daughter who loves the outdoors and being amongst the “moo moos” and our feathery friends.

Where is your farm?

We are based in Dunsandel, surrounded by nature, with mountains beyond and yet with easy access to everything. We are centrally placed between Christchurch & Ashburton, as well as Darfield & Leeston & close to Rolleston.

How did the business start?

It started from a dream… Years ago Paddy wanted to have his own farm. Eat fresh food, knowing how and where it came from and provide a healthy environment to bring up a family. Concretely, Paddy & I worked very hard and made a few sacrifices along the way to put a deposit together to buy our first farm. Once we bought it, it was time to put the land to good use, what better than to start with a few hens? We kicked off with 350 hens to get the business going.

What is special about Nutritional Farm?

The way we farm is to “pastured” standards which is completely different to the current standards here in NZ. We aim to give our hens the best quality of life there is, and in return, they produce a better nutritious egg which we try to make readily available to Cantabrians.

We run our business from A to Z, as in we rear our own chicks from 1-day-old and take them all the way through to laying birds. By rearing them ourselves, it allows us to give them the best possible start to life before they start producing one of the most nutritious foods there is. When the girls reach the age to lay, they are housed in moveable sheds which we have designed and built ourselves. We collect, process and pack all our eggs daily, and deliver to all our clients across Canterbury weekly. From our farm to your plate!

To keep it simple, “Pastured” farming means the animal is living on pasture. It implements higher animal welfare and more sustainable practices. Our hens produce pastured eggs because they live in a mobile shed that is moved around the farm. This allows them to roost in it at night, lay their eggs in the nest boxes in the morning and roam freely outside as they please the rest of the time. This means pastured hens eat a much higher percentage of their natural diet and are able to express their natural behaviours, such as pecking and scratching. Being outdoors in the fresh air and the sun also means that they stay healthy and fit.

Nutritional Farm first shed for their hens in Dunsandel, Canterbury, NZ

What inspired you to focus on pasture-raised practices? Why did you choose this type of farming?

Paddy experienced and learned a lot by having hens of his own from a very young age. He worked and researched various farms that practised in different ways to broaden his knowledge. When it all comes down to it, well it’s pretty simple: it’s firstly the love for the animal. The way we farm is the way we believe that the animal should live out their life. The closest standard there is to allow that is the pastured standard. Secondly, as a small family farm, it is our lifestyle, it is our home. We get immense joy out of being able to go outside for walks with our young daughter amongst our happy animals. Lastly, we are what we eat, we aim to produce the most nutritious egg there is, we believe in our product, and there are many nutritional benefits to our eggs.

This type of farming requires a lot more effort and work but it is worth it!

We became farmers for various reasons, and we love what we do, just like the good old saying goes, what you get out of it is what you put into it!

What are the differences between pastured eggs, free-range eggs and organic eggs?

The key difference with free-range is that our “pastured” hens get to live out their lives in the outdoors. The free-range standard is based on the fact that the hens have “access” to the outdoors for a period of time. If you take commercial farms, this does not necessarily mean that they get to live outdoors. Unfortunately, it is quite the opposite of what most people think when they think about “free range”. Otherwise, we would have adhered to “free-range” standards ourselves if this was not the case.

The main difference with the organic standard is that our hens get to have a more balanced diet. Organic standard is based on the fact that the farm is free of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers (which is great) but on commercial farms, this does not necessarily mean that they get to live out on pasture. Our hens forage and eat bugs all day long. NO PESTICIDES OR SYNTHETIC FERTILISERS are sprayed on Nutritional Farm also.

What does a day in the life of an egg farmer look like?

Most importantly, fried eggs for breakfast! Once the body is fueled with nourishment, we are outside on both sunny and rainy days carrying out the various jobs that need to be done. We have the usual daily jobs like taking care of the young chicks and layer hens, collecting and processing all the eggs… Then, some other jobs are carried out weekly like delivering eggs to our lovely customers, as well as cleaning, machinery maintenance and keeping up with the good old paperwork. We have various projects on the go too! This may be chopping up the tree that came down in the storm or fixing up the shed that the tree fell onto. Or it could be writing up some answers for the Bellbird Blog. 😉

How do you manage the health and wellbeing of your hens?

Biosecurity first of all. We have a strict vaccination programme in place. We run preventative maintenance tests to keep our girls in good health and we provide them with a clean environment.

How many hens have you got?

Currently, we have a couple of thousand layer hens and another thousand coming into lay in a couple of months.

What are the nutritional benefits of pasture-raised eggs?

  • Enhanced flavour
  • Less cholesterol
  • Reduced saturated fat
  • Increased vitamins A, E & D
  • More Omega 3

And the list goes on…

A tray of fresh eggs from Nutritional Farm NZ

What is the most challenging thing for an egg farmer?

NOT to have a day off! LOL, layer hens have not heard of a weekend!

What are you the most proud of?

Living our dream, achieving our goals and hopefully helping to make a difference!

What are your plans for the business?

We are now both working full-time on the farm which was a massive milestone for us. We are still expanding the business and we will be looking shortly for a couple of staff members to join Nutritional Farm.

Where can people find your eggs?

(apart from in Bellbird baked goods 😋)

We supply various eateries, bakeries and supermarkets across Canterbury. Here’s the current list of supermarkets where you can find our eggs:

  • Fresh Choice – Leeston
  • Four Square – Rakaia
  • Four Square – West Melton
  • Four Square – Darfield
  • New World – Ashburton
  • New World – Lincoln
  • New World – Halswell
  • New World – Wigram
  • New World – Rolleston
  • New World – St Martins
  • Super Value – Ashburton
Nutritional Farm pastured eggs in retail boxes

Where can we find out more about your farm?

We are currently working on putting our website together. (Editor’s note: we will share the link here when it’s up and running.)

We have an Instagram account (@nutritionalfarm_nz) where we try to post updates on what’s happening on the farm and where to find our eggs. We haven’t been able to post much recently due to the limited amount of free time we currently have!

Our contact details are also on every egg box for sale in the retail stores we supply.

Thank you Gretha for your time!

At Bellbird, we love the quality and freshness of the eggs from Nutritional Farm. We’re very grateful to get such a premium product and are glad to support this young business.

We also love the fact that Gretha and Paddy deliver their eggs in reusable plastic egg trays: less waste is key!

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