This has been an exciting time for Bell & Evans! On Saturday, August 26, the first chicks began to hatch at our brand new hatchery. Those chicks were delivered to our farms on Monday, August 28, the same day that our Hatchery received its “organic certification” from Pennsylvania Certified Organic, a nonprofit certification agency accredited by the USDA for compliance with the National Organic Program (NOP).
What does this mean? Our facility and methods meet (and even exceed) NOP standards for organic certification – a certification process that took roughly six months to complete and included a thorough inspection and approval process by a qualified organic inspector.
The organic label represents many components of our chicken welfare program. Our chickens’ feed is American-grown organic grain with added organic herbs and extracts like oregano oil, which has natural antibacterial characteristics, to help protect against illnesses. Our flocks are raised 100% free from antibiotics – from the egg throughout the entire lifespan. And unlike most other chicken hatcheries, ours is 100% formaldehyde free. We clean and disinfect the Hatchery and incoming eggs ONLY with organic disinfectants.
But if the label says “organic,” was the chicken raised humanely? People assume so, but that’s not always the case. We designed our Hatchery with the highest level of animal welfare in mind because “low stress” is one of OUR organic standards. Our chicks have immediate access to water and organic feed after they hatch, unlike traditional practices where chicks go hungry for days waiting to be fed. Our chicks are never handled by machinery. We don’t use shell separators, chick counters, conveyor belts or other traditional methods of moving and sorting chicks. And our farms are local – on average, within an hour’s drive – so the chicks enjoy a short commute to the farm in climate-controlled trucks with feed and light, and in the same baskets as which they were hatched. The entire Hatchery experience is stress-free, and then the chicks move to the farms, where fresh new litter awaits them and their journey continues. Our humane animal welfare standards are upheld throughout the chickens’ entire lifespan.
We put an extensive amount of time, research and money into our commitment to raising organic chickens humanely. We traveled the world to study other practices and discovered answers in the Netherlands, which led us to hire Dutch companies HatchTech and Viscon Group to complete the $40 million, 160,000-square-foot Hatchery project. Most poultry producers do what’s best for the bottom line, but we do what’s best for our chickens.
Do you guys still grind up baby chickens? The video I watched was shocking.
The video you watched was from 2013, and even though at that time we were using a humane process recommended by the American Veterinary Association to cull chicks that won’t make it to the farm, it pushed us to look for alternative options. We now take the extra step to euthanize those chicks by putting them through a process called SIE – slow induction euthanasia. Most important, we’ve upgraded our entire hatchery operations by building the world’s first organic certified animal welfare focused hatchery. Newly hatched chicks have organic feed and water available immediately. They are never dumped onto belts or handled by machinery.
looks very interesting and informative.
Thank you, Pat!
For the last year, I’ve been eating antibiotic free and organic free range chicken (of various brands) with the assumption that I’m reducing animal cruelty as well as my ingestion of inflammatory compounds in food. And yet this year, I saw a disturbing video of abuse at a major “organic free-range” chicken supplier to Whole Foods (Pittman Family Farms), causing me to question whether or not any major commercial supplier can be trusted. But I spoke to a butcher at Mariano’s grocery store this week who assured me that Bell & Evans is much more trustworthy. And it’s more affordable as well. But how are you different from Purdue and Pittman? I eat at least 2-3 pounds of chicken breasts a week so it’s very important to find a reliable supplier. Can you please email me information about your chickens’ diet, living conditions, and outdoor time?
The biggest difference between Perdue/Pittman and Bell & Evans is that Scott was never a commodity grower that “converted” to natural and organic production because of its growth potential. He did it because it’s the vision he had from growing up on the family farm.
We know that making the right food choices for your family can be confusing. Because it seems that everyone is saying they are humane, air chilled and organic. Check our page on “The Truth about Competitor Claims”, where we shine the light on false claims and what to believe. Also, our “Our Farms” page has a lot of information about our chickens diet and living conditions, including video taken on our farms. If you have questions after checking this page, just let us know. We’ll be happy to answer them.
I’m trying your chicken for the first time today, as my 12 year old wants to mkes sure that the meat she eats comes from well cared for animals. I honestly hope that what you say is the truth.
Our business is all about honesty and transparency – always has been, always will be. We back up our words with real life videos and pictures that aren’t staged and go into great detail on our website so you can feel good about choosing Bell & Evans. The key to this is that we are family-owned and operated. We don’t answer to stockholders or make decisions based on profit. We make decisions based upon what is right. We hope you and your daughter enjoy our chicken!
I have been eating GF chicken nuggets and tenders, and patties for years now and I Love there Chicken.
Thank you, Linda!
Do you sell baby chicks to farmers to raise? If not, can you tell me where to get them? I want to raise organic chickens on my farm.
Hi Michelle, our broiler chickens are an exclusive breed distributed to farmers who raise chickens for Bell & Evans. Raising organic chickens is less about the breed of chicken you purchase and more about how you raise those chickens—on organic feed only, land and soil that has been treated organically, natural light and room to access the outside.
I live in California.
Is your chicken available out here?
Thank you – Catherine
We are in most Whole Foods Markets, Catherine, with our Frozen items. You can check our product locator for a retailer near you: https://www.bellandevans.com/product-locator/
Hi,aco worker told me that Purdue bought you guys out. I seriously question this! I really like your frozen breaded patties,coconut tenders and regular patties! Moist, & delicious!
Hi Robin! No, we haven’t been bought out. We are still privately owned by the Sechler Family, and that won’t be changing. And we are happy to hear that you like our products. If you send us your name and mailing address to [email protected], we’ll send you some coupons for being a loyal fan.
So with the new euthanasia system, the chicks are still macerated but unconscious at the time? I only see 2 ethical options moving forward. Stop using separate breeds for eggs and meat, or use technology to abort the unwanted chicks before they hatch. I haven’t eaten eggs since 2012 and won’t do so until things change.
Hi, Kat –
In our new organic humane animal welfare focused hatchery, we only process hatching eggs used for chicken production. Table eggs require a different process and they are not part of our current product offering. We never sex our chickens. This means all chicks, both male and female, hatched at our Hatchery go to poultry farms. The chicks that are terminally ill or would not survive at the farm are humanely euthanized using Slow Induction Euthanasia. They are fully euthanized through this process. This is different from our Slow Induction Anesthesia at our production facility where the chickens are slowly rendered unconscious prior to harvest.
We also take extra steps to minimize the number of hatched chicks that won’t make it at the farm. Please watch our virtual tour so you can see first-hand how we check the eggs for viability prior to hatch.
I love your chicken and the way that they are raised and processed. I buy your chicken, fresh and frozen, and am happy and confident that the chickens that I buy are well cared for and treated as humanely as possible. This is so important to me.
I want to buy some chicks by mail. Can I pay you over the phone and have them shipped to my address at 1400 Blackberry Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99712
Hi Madeline, Thank you for your inquiry. We do not sell our chicks.