Handsome Brook Farm

Rating
CompanyHandsome Brook Farm
Outdoor AccessEnhanced Outdoor Access
Market AreaNY
LocationFranklin, NY
Market Area DetailUpstate New York
Websitewww.handsomebrookfarm.com
Total Score2060

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.

CriteriaPointsComments
TOTAL (possible score is 2700) 2060
4-Egg Rating | Excellent
Family farms and farmer cooperatives that market their own eggs receive the most points. Corporations that do not produce any eggs receive the fewest points.
Ownership Structure
60family owned business with contracts with other farmers
Flocks of 500 birds or fewer receive the most points based on Animal Welfare Approved standards.
Average Flock Size
605,000 bird flocks
Single henhouses receive the most points.
Single or Double Henhouses
100single
Animal Welfare Approved and Biodynamic certifications receive the most bonus points. Producers are not penalized for not having additional certifications beyond organic.
Other Certifications (bonus points)
10In process of verification
Points determined by integrity of the brand’s organic certifier.
Organic Certifier
100NOFA-NY
Farms that are 100% certified organic receive the most points, farms/brands that are split conventional and organic receive fewer points.
Commitment to Organics
80markets both organic and conventional cage-free eggs
More than 1.8 square feet per bird receives the most points, less than 1.2 square feet receives the fewest.
Indoor Space per Bird
100minimum of 2 sq ft/hen
Farms with perches, scratching areas and deep litter or year round pasture receive the most points.
Indoor Enrichments
100perches, dust baths, scratching areas, year-round pasture access
Farms that freshen litter weekly receive the most points.
Litter Management
80litter freshened as needed, removed after each flock
Farms that ensure birds have ample access to outdoors during daylight hours receive the most points.
Natural Light
80some natural light via windows
Farms that ensure 108 square feet per bird or more outdoors receive the most points.
Outdoor Space per Bird
100between 43-110 sq ft/hen
Farms that ensure birds are in mobile housing or 1 large door per 75 birds receive the most points.
Popholes/Exit to the Outdoors
80one door per 251-500 birds
Farms that ensure birds have access to feed, water and shade outdoors receive the most points.
Outdoor Enrichments
100feed, water, shade
Farms that can ensure outdoor access year round or those that only confine birds during inclement weather receive the most points.
Outdoor Space Exemptions
100year-round outdoor access
Farms that use mobile housing rotated on pasture every 1-2 days or weekly receive the most points.
Outdoor Management System
50fixed housing with rotated pasture managed - erratic compliance in the past. In process of verifying improvements
Farms that recycle chicken manure on the farm, using it for fertilizer, without causing nutrient pollution, receive the most points.
Manure Handling System
50some use, some sell
Farms that never force molting receive the most points.
Forced Molting
100no forced molting
Farms that never trim or tip beaks receive the most points.
Beak Trimming
70beak trimming within first 10 days of life
Farms where hens live an average of 3+ years or 1.6-3 years receive the most points.
Laying Hen Lifespan
4072 weeks average
Farms where spent hens die a natural death, are sold for meat, or are processed and sold for human consumption, receive the most points.
Use of Spent Hens
100sold live for food, eggs
Farms where the death loss rate of hens is less than 3% annually receive the most points.
Death Loss Rate
80average 5% death loss
Farms that breed and incubate their own chicks, or raise their own pullets, receive the most points.
Pullets
40purchases ready-to-lay pullets from outside source
Farms that allow pullets access to the outdoors within the first 6 weeks of life, or within 6-10 weeks, receive the most points.
Pullet Access to Outdoors
6010-16 weeks old
Farms where all feed is produced on the farm receive the most points.
Feed Produced on Farm
50one farm produces all grain, other farm produces none
Farms where 100% of the feed is grown in the US or Canada receive the most points.
US Grown Feed
100all domestically grown
No points are given for this but the information may be useful to certain consumers looking to avoid soy.
Soy in Feed
Yessoy in feed ration
Farms that do not feed synthetic amino acids receive the most points.
Synthetic Amino Acids
70No more than 2 lbs per ton
Farms that participated in Cornucopia’s research providing full transparency receive the most points.
Disclosure Rate
100full disclosure