Organic egg producer focuses on providing for community

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Mid-States Specialty Eggs hens in the pasture.

Mid-States Specialty Eggs produces pasture-raised hens using the cooperative effort of Mennonite families in Missouri and Arkansas. | Eggs “R” Us Inc.

Missouri-based Mid-States Specialty Eggs, based in Smithton, Missouri, is becoming a leader in the organic egg business.

Read the entire report about Mid-States Specialty Eggs exclusively in the July issue of Egg Industry.

Mid-States was founded in 2008 by Marion Hostetler and Dale Shrock. Hostetler and Shrock, both Mennonites, were formerly contract turkey growers. Hostetler said he and his partner were concerned about the amount of growth-promoting antibiotics used in the rations their flocks were fed and they no longer felt comfortable eating the meat they produced.

Looking elsewhere in poultry, the pair started to raise hens to produce organic eggs and found many others in their religious community interested in joining them.

Since 2008, the operation has grown from Shrock and Hostetler’s farms to 162 farms located in Missouri and Arkansas, with a collective 4.23 million laying hens under the Mid-States umbrella. The combined flocks would rank Mid-States among the top 25 largest egg producers in the country, according to Egg Industry’s annual ranking of egg producers.

Each farm includes about 25,000 birds and is run by a Mennonite family. The hens are housed in a cage-free barn employing a floor, or nest-and-slat, housing system. Eggs are collected by a belt system, packed in crates on-site, refrigerated and collected by Mid-States to be packaged for retailers.

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Austin Alonzo is a reporter at WATT Global Media. To contact Alonzo, email aalonzo@wattglobal.com.

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