“Come on, girls,” Josh Koehn says tenderly as he coaxes his flock of heritage breed hens across a vast expanse of green pasture at the base of the Chiricahua Mountains. A son of farmers, Josh has been raising hens in Willcox since the age of 10, when he began caring for the family flock. “I’ve just always loved chickens,” he says with a shrug. Fifteen years ago, after realizing that the cost of land and equipment would prohibit him from farming crops the way his parents did, Josh started Josh’s Foraging Fowls, a small company that sells pastured eggs laid in Arizona.
The pastured (not to be confused with pasteurized) eggs from Josh’s Foraging Fowls that we sell at Tucson CSA are some of the best eggs you can buy. Imagine the ideal of an egg: one laid from a hen that’s lived her entire life grazing on open pasture, with a strong, light brown shell and a yolk as bright as a summer marigold. Josh’s love for chickens has led him away from the methods used by conventional chicken farmers.
Josh’s chicks arrive at his farm from a hatchery when they’re one-day old. The chicks, of a French variety that grow slowly and thrive on pasture, are protected in an out-door pen for the first two months of their life. From there, the hens are moved to pasture—acres of open land on which Josh grows seasonal oats, rye, turnips, and clover for his 1,200 hens to forage. Their diet is supplemented by non-GMO corn grown down the road by Josh’s cousin. “They just love to be out on pasture … that’s how you make the highest quality product and the chickens love it,” Josh says. Because of the diet and exercise that the birds receive, their eggs are higher in healthy fats like Omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids. The eggs, with a deep-orange colored yolk, also taste richer than the conventional variety.
You can buy Josh’s eggs, whole chickens, and chicken quarters at Tucson CSA every week.