Eggs… Pastured, Free Range, Free Run, Caged… So what’s the diff?
Eggs… Are they good, are they bad? So you say they’re good… Should they be pastured? Free Range? Free Run? Caged? Well, I’ve done a lot of research on this topic. In fact… I do a lot of research on most topics. Since I know we’re all busy, I’ve done some of the work for you and compiled some facts into this journal entry. At last, here are some answers to those “egg” questions.
First things first, most of the articles I’m citing are American. So when these articles talk about “hormones and antibiotics” in eggs… Just know that this is not really a concern in Canada. Yes, that even applies to conventional eggs sold off the super market shelves for rock bottom prices. I’m not a fan of conventional caged or free run chicken operations, but I’m a huge supporter of Canadian agriculture, and I believe we should have our facts straight and not use shady or false advertising. I’m not naming any names, but there’s a fast food chain famous for root beer and their giant bear mascot that participates in these exact marketing schemes. You can find further proof of Canadian hormone and antibiotic standards here, and then click around over here for even more info.
Now lets break down some types of egg operations and see what the difference really is:
What this means is that the chicken is confined to a cage and spends it’s life there eating, drinking and laying eggs. Sounds super awesome, right? Yea, not so much.
2) FREE RUN
Bless their hearts, these chickens aren’t caged and have the freedom to run around a crowded barn with little to no natural light. Better, but still… not great.
3) FREE RANGE
Now these hens have the benefit of being allowed access to the indoors and outdoors. This is a major improvement, however, the hens are such effective foragers that they soon peck any vegetation and bugs clear out of their space. What they’re left with is dirt and feces packed together.
Pastured hens are perhaps the happiest of all the hens and have eggs packed with the most nutrition. These hens are usually housed in a mobile “hen house on wheels” where they spend their nights and also go in and out of during the day to lay eggs or seek shelter. They are rotated, with their hen house, to fresh pasture on a regular basis (usually every 2-3 days). This ensures that they have fresh vegetation each day, plenty of bugs that live in healthy, vibrant soil, and lots of room to run, dig and express all sorts of natural chicken behaviour.
So what about the feed?
Another thing important to note is that any of these chickens, no matter what production method is used, could still be fed a diet loaded with ingredients like corn, canola, and soy. What’s the big deal? Well, unless you’re getting organic feed, corn, canola and soy are going to be all about the GMO’s. No thank you.
Even if you buy organic, those ingredients are still not ideal. Soy is near the top of my “NO” list since it can screw with your hormones- particularly estrogen. Do you hear me ladies? Say no to soy! Other ingredients in chicken feed are extremely high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Most north american’s already have a really unhealthy balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. So what does this mean for us? Inflammation and lots of it. And really… inflammation is the root of so many awful diseases. Auto immune diseases, in particular, are running rampant in our culture! Even though we are just eating the egg from the chicken that eats that feed… we’d still be suffering the consequences. In this case it’s not just that we are what we eat. We are what our food eats, too.
What about the Blackberry Lane hens?
Here at Blackberry Lane, we feed our hens the highest quality feed with no corn, canola or soy. We pasture our chickens so they get that beautiful nutrition and can express all those natural chicken behaviours that are so quirky and fascinating. Our hens lay eggs with the deepest orange yolks and these ladies are fully feathered and gorgeous. They’re so busy digging and foraging that they don’t have time to pick on each other. Yes, chickens that are bored can be awful to each other. I call it the dark side of poultry. I’m so happy to say, our chickens really are happy and productive.
So remember to ask your farmer questions! Most will be happy to answer your questions! We hope to see some of you here, soon, at Blackberry Lane!