Egg-stra good: Couple raises free range chickens as the first step to self-sufficiency

An abundant harvest of brown eggs from the couple’s free range chickens. (Katrina Cuevas)

A lot of Filipinos start their day with eggs. Whether it’s a sunny-side up, scrambled, or boiled, eggs are a delicious and nutritious way to get that breakfast fix. 

Some eggs are more nutritious than others, and eggs from free range chickens are one of them. It’s said that eggs from free-range chickens contain: less cholesterol,  less saturated fat, more vitamin A, and are richer in other minerals than normal eggs. 

One couple in particular has the goal of living a self-sufficient lifestyle, and took to free range poultry farming as their first step towards that. 

Meet Christopher and Katrina Cuevas, the owners behind Bonnie’s Backyard Farm in Batangas City. 

Christopher and Katrina Cuevas are the couple behind Bonnie’s Backyard Farm. (Katrina Cuevas)

The first step to homesteading

Although Bonnie’s Backyard Farm is located in Batangas, the couple actually lives in Quezon City, Manila. However, they started developing land they acquired in Batangas for their future plans.

“We have an untapped agricultural land which was originally for building a home, [and we were] inspired with the idea of homesteading, a way of sustainable living. [Like] raising your own livestock and produce (vegetables and fruits) [and] composting your own trash to make organic fertilizer,” Katrina said. “We wanted to raise a family based on this concept away from too many city life distractions.”

The couple originally thought of swine production, but they learned about free range poultry farming and became more dedicated to it. In 2020, they started attending seminars and watched tutorial videos about free range poultry farming. 

That same year, they established Bonnie’s Backyard Farm. Their farm specializes in meat and brown egg production from free range chickens, as well as artisan eggs like blue and olive eggs. 

Bonnie’s Backyard Farm produces brown eggs and artisan eggs. (Katrina Cuevas)

The farm has also grown to be certified to produce F1 Layers from H&N Parent Stock Breeders. F1 refers to the first generation of offspring produced by a set of parents. They receive parent chickens who lay fertile eggs and incubate these eggs for around 18 to 21 days. 

The chickens are raised until they reach 18 weeks, and they can either be sold to other poultry farms, made into meat, or continuously raised for brown eggs production.

Weekend farmers

The Cuevas couple stays in Quezon City due to their weekday jobs. Christopher works for the IT department of a US based company while Katrina has a catering business.

But every weekend, the couple travel to Batangas to take care of their farm. If there are any free days like a holiday, then they definitely choose to see to their chickens.

“[We] feed the chickens two times a day, clean feeders and waterer, [and] harvest eggs three to four times a day,” Katrina said. 

They also focus on biosecurity and ensure that the farm is regularly sanitized and disinfected. On days when they can’t manage the farm themselves, they have a caretaker to do it for them.

They have an abundant harvest of eggs, so they package it and sell it to different clients in Metro Manila. Aside from selling to family and friends, they market their eggs and chickens through Facebook and have gained more customers for their products.

A curious chicken looking at the fruits of its labor. (Katrina Cuevas)

“[It’s] 290 pesos per tray,” Katrina said. “Chickens are priced depending on kilogram.” Clients are able to receive their products by delivery through local couriers.

A fresh and sustainable life

Sometimes, things happen that are out of your control, and for a farmer, that definitely means natural disasters like earthquakes and the Taal volcano eruption.

Bonnie’s Backyard Farm had those challenges that they had to overcome, since those events affected their chickens and their overall production. But the couple didn’t lose heart and continuously sought and made improvements to their farm to get them back on track.

An abundant harvest of brown eggs from the couple’s free range chickens. (Katrina Cuevas)

It helps that they genuinely found joy in maintaining a poultry farm, as they find it to be a stress free environment where they can be among nature. 

They are also members of organizations that are against animal cruelty, so free range chicken farming has been a great fit for the self-sufficient life they wanted to build. 

“[We’re proud of] being able to help out the community,” Katrina said. “[The] livestock live in a natural environment resulting to (sic) better produce thus clients are more happy.”

Photos courtesy of Katrina Cuevas (Bonnie’s Backyard Farm)

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