Bell & Evans was started in 1894, when Howard H. Bell and Carlton Evans started shipping chicken from Amish Country, Pennsylvania to New York City. Today, headed by the Sechler family and based out of nearby Fredericksburg, PA, the company is a leading force in the transformation of the poultry industry.
At Kimberton Whole Foods, we offer Bell & Evans Raised-Without-Antibiotic and Organic chicken, as well as their Organic turkey, available seasonally.
You are what you eat:
Bell & Evans is the first company to raise 100% of their flocks without antibiotics, and they do this by keeping the birds healthy from egg to adult. They understand that what the chickens are eating directly affects their wellness (and ours) so from the moment they hatch, the chicks enjoy an organic diet of corn, soybeans, vitamins and minerals, plus their own blend of oregano oil, cinnamon and yucca to support the birds’ gut health.
Most poultry producers use cheap hexane-processed soybeans – but hexane is a volatile solvent that pollutes the air and environment. Bell & Evans uses extruded, expeller-pressed soybeans, from family-owned feed mills.
The chickens are 100% Air Chilled, which is a departure from tradition methods in which chlorinated water is used in the chilling process. Not only does this prevent the water (and chlorine) from being absorbed by the chicken, but it also conserves water.
Finally, a clean and stress-free environment is key to keeping the birds healthy and antibiotic-free. Learn more about what sets Bell & Evans apart from other poultry producers.
The company prides themselves in transparency, which is why as a consumer, you can find plenty of information about their operation on their website. You can also find a detailed look at their Animal Welfare Standards.
Bell & Evans operates the world’s first Organic Certified, animal welfare focused chicken hatchery, which opened in July of 2017. Here, the eggs are never injected with antibiotics or sanitized with formaldehyde, which is standard industry practice. The chicks are handled by people, not machinery; they do not employ the use of belt drops, shell separators, or chick counters. Chicks are offered organic food, water, fresh air and light as soon as they leave the egg, which includes their roughly one-hour transport from the hatchery to the family owned farms where they will be raised.
The chicken houses where the chicks are raised are fully cleaned and sanitized between flocks, and they are given fresh litter. Again, sadly this is not standard procedure in the industry. The birds are offered enrichment in the form of ramps and tunnels.
To provide the least-stressful transport to the processing plant, the birds are set in drawers inside of enclosed trailers, which protect them from weather and allow air to circulate. All of the farms are less than one hour average driving time to the plant. Chickens are then placed in a temperature-controlled calming barn.
Bell & Evans employs Slow Induction Anesthesia, which means that the chickens are slowly rendered unconscious while still in their transport drawers. This is a more humane step than traditional processing, in which the birds become agitated and stressed.
Beyond the birds:
Compared to traditional processing, Bell & Evans saves millions of gallons of water each year by air-chilling. Trailers, transportation modules, and drawers are cleaned with water from their onsite wastewater treatment plant. They also recycle manure, which is used as mushroom compost for other local businesses
Bell & Evans poultry is sold in vacuum-sealed, freezer-safe recyclable packaging, made with #1 PETE recyclable materials.
The company sponsors the Sechler Family Cancer Center in Lebanon. In 2016, The Association of Fundraising Professionals named owner Scott Sechler Philanthropist of the Year.