Ever stopped to wonder about the eggs that you eat?
You know, like where do they come from?
What about the hen’s living conditions?
Do you know the difference between cage-free and range-free?
Since my family and I made the decision years ago to do our best to only eat healthy foods, these are questions we must ask ourselves. We’ve learned that a regular carton of eggs doesn’t contain eggs that we desire to eat for several reasons, even if they are cheaper! Much cheaper!
If you’ll take a look at a piece of your printer paper while reading this, you’ll get a better visual of the size of a typical hen’s cage. Yep, it’s true. Their cage is roughly the size of a piece of printer paper, and that’s all they get the year they’re used for their eggs. They’re fed a low- calorie diet that causes them to lay more eggs at a faster rate, which of course is unhealthy and unnatural for the birds.
Did you know that those hen houses you see when driving through the country can actually hold up to 30,000 hens? Since there are so very many hens crammed into these large hen houses, of course they’re prone to disease which is why they’re fed high doses of antibiotics, growth hormones, and medicated feeds. A battery-cage hen never sees the sunlight her whole life in her cage. She is unable to nest, perch, or dust-bathe, which are all vital for a hen to have a healthy life, and lay healthy eggs.
Not only that they’re typically fed genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans. Stop and think about it, what does a bird or chicken eat in its natural habitat? They scratch the ground for seeds, grass, insects, worms, and any weed or other green they’re interested in eating.
Now these are not considered cage-free. These are the typical dozen eggs you and your parents have been buying for years. So what is cage-free?
Cage-free means that the hens are not confined to that small space I spoke of above, but are given a little more space to move around. A cage-free hen is able to walk, spread her wings, and lay her eggs in a nest. None of which a battery-caged hen is able to do. Cage-free hens are supposed to be given the opportunity to dust-bathe, and perch, but there are no promises that they’re actually given that.
While a cage-free hen has a much better life than battery-caged hen, this is still not the healthiest, nor the most desirable, condition for hens. They still never see the sun!
What does range-free mean?
Range-free hens are allowed to go outside for at least a few hours per day. Obviously, this gives them the chance to spread their wings, perch on a limb or fence, and get sunlight. These conditions help to improve the health of the bird and the health of the eggs she lays.
When we had hens, and will have again soon, we allow them to roam the pastures throughout most of the day, and then they naturally return to their hen house at dusk. Hens need grass and plenty of all the greens, weeds, seeds, insects, and worms, they can get their little beaks onto. So when I drive by a hen’s yard, or see a picture of a hen’s yard on an egg carton, and their “yard” is only dirt, I do not buy the eggs from that particular location. That is an obvious picture that those hens are not getting enough yard space per bird.
Again they may be cage-free and that’s much better than battery-caged, but let’s push for much better conditions for our hens and what we’re eating!
Range-free is a much better option, but all the while you’ll still need to contact the farmer and get the specifics of the hen’s conditions if you really want to only eat the healthiest and best!
Have you switched to range-free?
What has been your egg experience?
All the best!
Elk Mountain Market, LLC