The best pastoral eggs are in Olavarría
13 Sep 2021
They are three sisters and one day they decided to tackle a work project together, but it had to be professional, serious and with projection. That idea became a reality a year ago and today they are the only ones in the province that have a quality production of pastoral eggs, with 1,250 hens reared with a rotary system. They have already achieved success, but they are going for more.
The Estancia La Emilia -establishment born in 1937- less than a year ago that welcomed a project that with a decision and firmness typical of three entrepreneurial women, determined, with a clear objective and towards there were these three sisters: Carina (45), Rocío (38) and Magalí (29) Iguiñiz, daughters of the remembered producer and leader of the Rural Society Raúl Iguiñiz.
Thus was born OVO (a name derived from oogenesis, obviously) and the small SME that they set up at the beginning of 2020, with 250 hens, today has 1,250 Lohmann Brown layers, they are waiting for another 750, they sell in Olavarría and the area, including in Necochea, and they already plan to enter the Federal Capital. Pastoral eggs, unique for their quality and certification in the province of Buenos Aires, are the registered trademark of these three sisters who go for more, from a production that is supported by the Rotary Pastoril System (system of housing and production of chickens, different from the one everyone knows).
The three got together (Rocío and Carina live in Olavarría and Magalí, the “little one,” in La Plata) and decided to take a step forward. They wanted to start a company, “to do something good, to break it in the market, well done from the beginning. And we succeeded. Commercially we are doing well, growing. But we are safe and proud. Of course, without the support of the family , of the field team, of those who joined now, it would have been impossible because it is a lot of work “they say. But they were launched on the market and based on a good sales strategy, backed by professional work, OVO pastoral eggs are now asking for more clues. The chicken or the egg is a dilemma that comes from the expression What came first? They don’t care much about that, obviously. The project grows and they told it like this:
How and when was the Ovo project for pastoral eggs born?
ROCIO: The project started last year, in the middle of the pandemic. It’s been a long time since the three of us wanted to do a project together from scratch. Although we continued with the company that my grandfather and my father left, this was to do something for ourselves. And through a viral video of cage-free hens we got involved in the issue because we liked the idea. So we did online trainings, courses and we looked for a reference that is in Santa Fe, since this is a very new topic in Argentina. The three of us participated in the training, obviously, Magalí from La Plata and Carina and I who are based in Olavarría. We learned because we wanted to go to market with a good project with several added values and we began to see different goals to have all the relevant certifications and qualifications, as appropriate.
CARINA: There are projects with cage-free chickens, but they are not certified. We achieved a different egg, but with an endorsement that backs us that it is certified. Not only do we say it, but when an analysis is made to that egg, what we say is reflected. It was a search for professionals to help us, such as a bird nutritionist (Francisco Cortés), who is from Olavarrie, and two other veterinarians who are from the Faculty of Birds of Tandil, who joined the working group. There are projects of cage-free hens raised on the floor, but we want it to be rotational since although they are free they have space to graze, they have green, and we certify everything we do, with certain international standards of the International Agricultural Organization (OIA) ), because you have to know how many hens must live in their respective boxes that meet all the distance requirements, and they are boxes for 250 chickens. It is that you have to respect the 25 centimeters difference between each one, the nipples so that they receive the water – we do not use a drinking system, which is common, but they are like baby bottles -, because hygiene is maintained, it consumes the water and there is no contagion. We have been working for nine months and we did not have a single case of illness, which is very important.
How is the rotary system?
R: It is called rotational grazing. What we did was build the modules, which are the mobile carts, in accordance with the animal welfare regulations. We respect all measures so that the birds have a natural behavior of their species. As soon as daylight appears, we open the carts for the chickens to go out to graze, as long as they require, and in turn we give them a food that we produce. They are all day doing their natural exercises, looking for insects, they constantly drink fresh water from the nipple systems.
C: And after seven to ten days, the squares are moved to another plot, so they rotate and they always have green to eat, so they eat pasture that is alfalfa, white clover and fescue. With nutritionists we put together a food as a supplement, specially designed.
R: The good thing is that we are the only SME in the province of Buenos Aires certified in Animal Welfare. And I would dare to say that there are three of us in the country, with the rotary system since there are many projects of cage-free hens but they are raised in sheds, that is, on the floor. And they are in the core area like Entre Ríos. Like ours, rotating and certified, there is none in the province.
M: The birds come and go when they want, because there are the cars where the nests are located where they sleep and rest. Being free, they go to sleep when they want, although they do so when the sun goes down.
Where are the secrets of OVO?
C: We have achieved a posture percentage that is between 93 and 94 percent. It is soaring. In winter it drops to 60-odd percent, but they tell us that in very large farms they do not get the percentage that we do have with our chickens. They can’t believe it. The secret? In the freedom that chickens have to live and breed. They are not stressed at all.
M: Besides, we don’t manage their schedules. They are free. They live naturally. To enter the box the hen must see light, so we have solar panels, otherwise they stay outside. But at 10 p.m. that panel is cut off and they sleep until the next day, and at 7 in the morning everything is opened for them to go out.
R: We reached that certification after a lot of audits that we did. They don’t give it to you, obviously. They also did field tests, we built the boxes with certain manuals, that everything is suitable. There is no rest here, we work every day.
How many chickens do they have?
C: We started with 250 and at the moment we have 1,250 chickens. And we are about to receive another 750. It has been an important investment, it is true, because we also build the boxes. We thought of something small but then everything expanded, we specialized and trained, so something very nice was generated. We buy them 16 weeks old and we bring them from the Pilar area, where there is one of the most important breeders in the country of the Lohmann Brown breed. We buy all of them, because if not to raise them we should set up other logistics.
Where is the secret to achieve a high quality egg like OVO, in the diet, in the care, where …?
M: Yes, in the way of feeding, in the way that the hens live with zero stress and that makes them have a better quality egg, in addition to their size. An egg has an average weight of 50/55 grams and that of our hens is between 60/65 and even 75 grams since they are double yolks and are the premium ones, and have weighed 80 grams. The shell is strong, it is not clicked, due to the amount of calcium. We have done three different analyzes of the eggs and they all have a very thick, consistent white with a more marked yolk color and this is due to the hen’s feeding. It is proven that our eggs have almost twice as much protein as the common egg.
R: They are also rich in Omega9, so they have a monosaturated fatty acid, and are highly sought after because it is like a heart protector, and rich in Omega3, which are acids that the body does not produce, so they are excellent since they decrease the heart risk and also strokes. And these eggs are achieved naturally, we do not seek to give the hens a diet to achieve these benefits, it is all natural. In addition, we analyze them and it is proven. And with vitamin D, because the chickens can go out freely and sunbathe, which is not the case with industrialized eggs where the chickens are enclosed in a very small space.
C: And something else, in addition to the different taste, and that is that they also have a different color and that is because it has something good: it has more beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant, which helps to reduce risks in other skin diseases included. It is a super healthy food, easy to digest, it is available to everyone, and for children, pregnant women, athletes, eggs are excellent, and nutritionists also say this. Also, it is a cheap product.
What has been the difficult objective of selling them and introducing them to the market, and how much production have they achieved?
R: There is a conscious and responsible consumption trend, so people value these nutritional properties. From there, after almost a year of work, we began to market them. We are eternally grateful to the businesses that bet on us, even without knowing us, such as Tres Estrellas, Tomato, Almacén Saludable, and today we have eggs in more than twenty stores in Olavarría, but we also sell in Tandil (in the four branches of the El Monarca supermarket , exclusively with OVO pastoral eggs), Necochea, Azul, Laprida and Bolívar. And we are thinking of entering the market in the Federal Capital, but we have to wait to incorporate these 750 layers that are yet to arrive. We are covered with the daily production. It is an egg per day of 1,250 hens, with 93/94% of laying.
C: They are harvested three times a day, manually, and as they are collected they are taken to the warehouse. It is all handmade. They are gently cleaned with a sponge and from there they are selected by size, and then they go to the packashing area, all with an average temperature of 23 degrees for better conservation.
M: Besides that the harvest is done manually, it is done outside where the hens are in their carts, so they are not disturbed at all in their nests.
C: We design the packashing by ourselves and they do it especially for us, since they are sustainable and ecological. The containers are purple, made of molded pulp, fully recyclable, biodegradable and ecological. And the girdles that wrap them are also ecological, with water-soluble ink, and are biodegradable.
R: Even when the sash is disassembled, a 3D animal can be assembled, they are endangered animals from Patagonia, so that is also an added value.
C: Something else. The harvest date and the batch number are recorded in each batch, so that if there is a problem in an egg we know that it was due to the particular batch. We will identify it right away. Everything is registered. That is why we fill out many expiration forms.
M: The egg has an expiration date that is 30 days, which is registered of course, and that is the recommended time, although if after the month the home test of putting an egg in the water is done and if it floats, it is not in terms. If it doesn’t float, it can be eaten. But we have the harvest date under control.
R: If we were able to enter as suppliers of El Monarca or Tres Estrellas, which are important supermarkets, it is because we have all the corresponding authorizations, otherwise it would have been impossible, because we are registered as an agricultural farm in Senasa. Today in the market we have the only pastoral eggs in the province of Buenos Aires.
Source: El Popular