American Humane was founded in 1877 on the belief that ALL animals – those in our homes, those in service to our country, and those on our farms and ranches – deserve humane treatment.
In fact, we’ve been working for more than 140 years to improve the welfare of farm animals and created the country’s first largest, and most trusted farm animal welfare program in the country – the American Humane Certified™ program.
To help consumers know which producers have committed to demonstrably good welfare and shine a spotlight on those who put food on our tables while raising animals right, American Humane regularly features our American Humane Certified producers and their enlightened commitment to the welfare of animals in agriculture.
This week, we are profiling Handsome Brook Farm.
Tell us a little bit about Handsome Brook Farm and its history
Handsome Brook Farm was founded in 2007 by Betsy & Bryan Babcock at their farm-stay B&B in Franklin, NY with a flock of five hens. Almost immediately, guests started to praise the high quality and exceptional taste of their eggs. The couple realized it was because their hens got to wander the yard, forage, and, well, act like hens. The result was a better egg. Soon after, Betsy & Bryan began collecting similarly raised back yard eggs from their neighbors and selling them to local stores.
As demand grew, Handsome Brook Farm built a network of small farms in the local Amish and Mennonite community. From this perch, the company hatched its core values: ethical treatment of animals, fair treatment of farmers, affordable pricing and sustainable agriculture. These principles remain critical to the company today.
Today, the company’s farm network to includes more than 70 small family farms from New York to Oklahoma. Handsome Brook Farm is now the number-one organic pasture raised egg in the U.S. and is available at more than 3,500 points of sale nationally, including Kroger, Publix, and Sprouts.
Why does Handsome Brook Farm believe animal welfare is important?
Handsome Brook Farm believes that all animals deserve to be treated with warmth, care and kindness. After all, we started as a farm stay B&B: taking care of our animals and treating them well was important to us and our guests. That experience also confirmed that treating animals well allows them to provide better products for us and our families. Happy hens produce better eggs. We have made a commitment to treating our hens like family even as we grow.
Some companies are self-reporting welfare outcomes. Why did you decide it was important to work with an independent third party?
Having a third party like American Humane audit our farms does two things. First, it allows consumers to feel comfortable that we are up to the highest standards in the industry. American Humane has a history of independence and rigorous audit practices. Second it gives us a partner in constantly evaluating the best and most humane way to raise hens on the farm. We recognize this is a process and are always trying to work with experts to improve our farm practices. American Humane is a great resource.
What about American Humane certification do you value most?
We know that American Humane has worked with the foremost experts in the field to craft standards for pasture-raised laying hens. This commitment to excellences ensures we are following the best possible standard for our hens, and giving our farmers the support they need to produce as well as possible. It’s a tremendous resource and value for Handsome Brook and, ultimately, our consumers.
How have your customers responded to your earning the American Humane Certified seal and how does it set you apart from other producers in your field?
Handsome Brook was one of the pioneers of modern pasture-raised farming. When we started in 2007, there was very little in the way of formal standards. While we always did what we thought was right, our customers really appreciate knowing that an organization with the history and credibility of American Humane is backing us. It gives them confidence that the quality and auditing of our farms are never in doubt and that they can feel confident about buying and promoting us.