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Business

August 17, 2011

Pasture-raised egg producers look to expand to more stores

Handsome Brook Farm in Franklin is working with some other local farmers to produce and market pasture-raised eggs, owner Betsy Babcock said recently.

Pasture-raised eggs are from chickens allowed to go outside and forage for food, Babcock said. The eggs are sold at the Hannaford and Green Earth stores in Oneonta, and plans are to expand locally with Price Chopper and into the Albany market with the two grocery chains, she said.

Handsome Brook Farm has about 60 chickens that stay in a coop overnight, where corn is available, for protection from the weather and predators, she said. During good-weather days, the chickens are allowed to roam outside to find bugs and grass to eat."They have a good chicken life," Babcock said.

Generally, they return to the coop to lay eggs, which have brighter yolks and thicker whites than conventionally produced eggs, she said. "We're very passionate about these eggs," she said.

Conventional egg production is from chickens in cages, Babcock said. Cage-free chickens are housed in barns but don't go outside, and organic eggs are from chickens in barns fed organic meals.

Handsome Brook Farm has been using the pasture-raised method for six years, said Babcock, who owns the farm with her husband, Bryan. Compliments from bed-and-breakfast guests led to marketing the eggs beyond local farmers markets, she said. The pasture-raised eggs cost about $4 per dozen, which is more than generic eggs and less than organic eggs.

Babcock said Hannaford and Price Chopper supermarkets already sell Handsome Brook Farm preserves and blueberries. About four months ago, Hannaford in Oneonta began selling the pasture-raised eggs, and a request is pending with Price Chopper, she said.

Babcock said she and Bryan decided to work with other farmers instead of increasing the size of their flock. Now about seven farms in Delaware and Otsego counties, with a total of about 500 chickens, participate in the distribution, she said.

The cooperatively sold eggs are distributed under the Handsome Brook Farm label, she said, and about 90 dozen eggs are delivered to Hannaford in Oneonta each week and about 15 dozen to the Green Earth every two weeks.

NBT Bancorp Issues financial report

NBT Bancorp Inc. in Norwich has reported near-record earnings for the first half of this year, Martin Dietrich, NBT president and chief executive officer, said in a recent media release.

Financial results for 2008 through 2010 represented the most-profitable three-year time in company's history, during a period when the banking industry had record losses, Dietrich said.

NBT Bancorp. said net income for the six months ended June 30 of $29 million, up $600,000 or 2 percent from the six months ended June 30, 2010. Earnings per share of 84 cents for the first six months of 2011 was the second highest in the company's history, the release said, second to 88 cents for the same period in 2008.

NBT Bancorp is traded under as NBTB on NASDAQ. Total assets as of June 30 and Dec. 31 were $5.3 billion.

To suggest a business story e-mail details to drichardson@thedailystar.com or call Denise Richardson at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 213.

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