Anita Moss and her husband, Jesse Drager, bought 10 acres of pine-covered high desert in Mora, New Mexico in 2004. She began raising a small number of chickens outdoors on pasture so she would no longer have to buy eggs produced by corporate farms. However, it wasn’t long before she was producing enough eggs for her family and several neighbors, too. Anita increased production further and began to supply pasture-raised eggs to the Los de Mora Local Growers’ Cooperative, Inc., a local producer-owned cooperative made up of 35 small family farms and ranches. In 2014, Anita sought AWA certification after the Cooperative made AWA certification a requirement for all its livestock producers.
Anita’s small flock of laying hens consists of Rhode Island Reds and Delaware Reds, which forage outdoors year round and enjoy the safety of a secure chicken coop that Jesse built. The coop has already paid for itself: it was tested one night by a curious bear that failed to injure any of their chickens!
High-welfare management is important to Anita and she believes that paying close attention to her hens’ health and wellbeing, and ensuring that they are outdoors on pasture or range throughout the year, makes her hens happy. It also produces nutritious, tasty eggs that her customers love. “They all say they can taste the difference!” says Anita.
Anita is proud to supply the Los de Mora Local Growers’ Cooperative. Selling through a cooperative offers many advantages: By aggregating and coordinating supply, for example, Los de Mora Cooperative has been able to secure larger market opportunities for individual family farm members that would be impossible to achieve on their own, such as two egg accounts with local supermarkets.
Anita plans to continue expanding the farm slowly each year, careful not to grow too quickly. Anita and Jesse have already installed a water catchment system that collects rain water for use in the gardens and pastures. She recently added goji berry plants, which are well-adapted to Mora’s high-desert climate, and a new hoop house will help extend northern New Mexico’s short growing season. An increase in egg production may be on the horizon, too, but Anita is careful to only add more hens when she has the capacity to raise them according to the highest welfare practices.
Anita Moss Farm’s pasture-raised eggs are sold through the Los de Mora Local Growers’ Cooperative, and are available at local retail outlets in the Mora area. To learn more about Anita’s farm, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (575) 387-2308.