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Dutch Country Organics

Dutch Country Organics — committed to family farms
Supporting Indiana’s small farms while feeding the country’s big appetite for high-quality eggs

Some might consider it the model of contradiction: Dutch Country Organics relies on several of the country’s largest retailers and small Indiana family farms to keep the company rolling.

“It’s the foundation of the company,” Dion Scott, president of live bird operations at Dutch Country Organics, said. “Our founders wanted to create a company that was farmer-focused and tied to the community and its beliefs.”

Headquartered in Shipshewana, Indiana, with its egg processing and grading facility in Middlebury, Indiana, Dutch Country Organics is 100% Amish-owned. The company handles 2.5 million eggs — from mostly organic, pasture-raised chickens — each day. These eggs are custom packaged and shipped to retail giants nationwide, such as Costco, Walmart and Kroger.

Founded in 2008 by Marvin Schlabach and Lamar Bontrager, Dutch Country Organics works with more than 60 farmers in northern Indiana, along with a handful in Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri. Bontrager remains one of the company’s leaders. Scott, who grew up in Clinton, Indiana, joined in 2018 and assumed his current role in 2019.

“We work closely with our farmers,” Scott said. “We’re here to support them by providing as much help and knowledge as we can.”

In this case, chicks come first

Dutch Country Organics buys young chicks and places them with pullet growers where they are nurtured and grown until they’re ready to move to one of 60 layer houses.

Scott works with each farmer to ensure they have the tools and knowledge necessary to keep the birds healthy and producing. He also works with them to meet the specific specifications for the type of eggs they’re raising. For example, some farms are organic. Others are organic, pasture-raised.

Requirements can range from outdoor space and access to natural light, along with parameters for floor, perch, nest and feeding space. Various industry organizations inspect facilities and processes before certifying chickens are raised according to rigorous standards.

“The goal with many of these standards is simple: Allow these birds to be themselves, to do their normal thing,” Scott said. “We want to provide an environment that’s as close to nature as possible.”

Navigating a major challenge

Although avian influenza continues as a major threat to the poultry industry, Dutch Country Organics’ commitment to raising healthy, happy laying hens, has helped the operation manage the disease without incidence.

“As avian influenza became a major concern, we worked with our growers to implement additional practices to keep birds healthy and the disease out of our flocks,” Scott said. “We test constantly. We test before any move — even to a barn across the road. Avian influenza is an issue for our farmers, our company, for our customers and for the economy.”

As consumers continue expanding their taste for specific types of eggs raised to stringent standards, Dutch Country Organics has benefitted by working to meet those demands. Growth over the last several years has included adding employees and new layer barns.

“Our farmers are great,” Scott said. “Working with them is my favorite part of this job. Our goal is to provide a service and opportunity that can increase the income and sustainability of those small family farms. That is really rewarding.”

Click here to learn more about the family farm values that drive Dutch Country Organics.

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