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Brand Name Handsome Brook
Rating (4)    
Company by Handsome Brook
Location Franklin, NY
Market Area New York State
Web Site http://handsomebrookfarm.com/
HBF
 

Four-egg brands have an excellent rating in terms of our 28 scoring criteria. In addition, brands highlighted in green, such as this one, provide "Enhanced Outdoor Access" to their birds. Their hens live in housing surrounded by a generous amount of outdoor space, which they have access to. We've invited all four-egg brands, including Handsome Brook, to write a bit about their farm and operation.


We are reinstating Handsome Brook’s 4-egg rating after suspending it pending the outcome of our investigation into allegations regarding serious improprieties. At least two lawsuits have been filed against the company, one by the Organic Consumers Association and one by a competitor claiming unfair competition and economic injury. We have confirmed, based on documentary evidence and first-hand witness testimony, that Handsome Brook made several large wholesale purchases of organic eggs from outside their network of contracted farmer-suppliers. This came at a time of rapid growth for the company, when they could not fulfill market demand. These eggs did meet the USDA organic standards. However, these eggs did not meet the company’s marketing representations in terms of enhanced outdoor access (what they refer to as “pastured”) and other animal welfare practices. The evidence indicates that as it relates to these purchases, they were selling standard organic eggs that did not merit the premium prices they were charging Additionally, Handsome Brook may have marketed a small quantity of eggs as organic, that did not legally qualify for the organic label, but we have not been able to confirm this. After the first allegations became public in 2016, and investors took control of the management of Handsome Brook, we entered into negotiations with the new managers asking for their cooperation in our investigation. We asked them for access, through their auditors, of all purchasing records from 2015 and 2016 and other material that would help us evaluate the past conduct of the company. We received full cooperation from Handsome Brook’s new management. Thus, completing our investigation and finding no evidence of current violations of law or misrepresentations taking place, we are now reinstating the company on our organic egg scorecard. Handsome Brook’s rating has been modestly downgraded as we have yet to complete our on-site audits to confirm management control improvements at the farm level. We have every reason to believe that the new ownership is acting in an honest and transparent manner. They have committed to continuing Cornucopia’s full access to their auditor, accounting records and farmer lists. If we find they have made improvements we will look at raising their score later this year. With this level of scrutiny we would be surprised if we encounter any ongoing material improprieties.


Criteria Points Comments
Ownership Structure 60 family owned business with contracts with other farmers
Average Flock Size 60 5,000 bird flocks
Single or Double Henhouses 100 single
Other Certifications (bonus points) 10
In process of verification
Organic Certifier 100 NOFA-NY
Commitment to Organics 80 markets both organic and conventional cage-free eggs
Indoor Space per Bird 100 minimum of 2 sq ft/hen 
Indoor Enrichments 100 perches, dust baths, scratching areas, year-round pasture access
Litter Management 80 litter freshened as needed, removed after each flock
Natural Light 80 some natural light via windows
Outdoor Space per Bird 100 between 43-110 sq ft/hen
Popholes/Exit to the Outdoors 80 one door per 251-500 birds
Outdoor Enrichments 100 feed, water, shade
Outdoor Space Exemptions 100 year-round outdoor access
Outdoor Management System 50 fixed housing with rotated pasture managed - erratic compliance in the past. In process of verifying improvements
Manure Handling System 50 some use, some sell
Forced Molting 100 no forced molting
Beak Trimming 70 beak trimming within first 10 days of life
Laying Hen Lifespan 40 72 weeks average
Use of Spent Hens 100 sold live for food, eggs
Death Loss Rate 80 average 5% death loss
Pullets 40 purchases ready-to-lay pullets from outside source
Pullet Access to Outdoors 60 10-16 weeks old
Feed Produced on Farm 50 one farm produces all grain, other farm produces none
US Grown Feed 100 all domestically grown
Soy in Feed Yes soy in feed ration
Synthetic Amino Acids 70 No more than 2 lbs per ton
Disclosure Rate 100 full disclosure
TOTAL (possible score is 2700) 2060
FOUR EGGS (Excellent)