Every wondered what the difference between a cage egg and free range means? Do free range chickens actually get to get to go outside? Can they eat bugs and grass?
Well dear readers, look no further as this video from http://www.lexiconofsustainability.com/ explains the situation in the US, which is mostly the same here in Australia.
Enlightening, isn’t it.
I wonder if there is a term for my chooks. I would label them “Veggie patch destroying, go where they like, eat all my weeds and bugs, but well loved backyard chickens”. Now that is something I would like to see on an egg carton!
I believe that at least cage eggs should be banned, closely followed by free range, as well as the supermarkets that stock them. What do you think?
Some free range chickens do get to go outside – and the smart company sets up a webcam so people can see for themselves where their eggs are actually coming from.
It is turned off for the night now but they run some edited footage, make sure to check back in daylight.
Those are the only eggs I will buy from a supermarket, if I do need to buy them. And sometimes I do if I am needing to bake. We have only 6 bantams one of whom never lays, she is more of a pet, the others kinda take turns.
My chooks have completely scratched out and eaten all grass in their enclosure. This is fine with them because they do not like grass at all, they just want awesome dirt to bathe in! And bathe in it they do, most of the day, in between hunting bugs and eating awful snacks like apple, watermelon, strawberries, pumpkin.. they are very spoilt girls!
I wish all chickens could have that life. Although I would prefer they liked grass, it is more picturesque!
Wow – I never thought that they’d have the gall to stretch the truth that far. That’s just shameful. An insightful video though, I’ll check out the others in the series.
At my place, six chickens share a whole quarter of my backyard (or roughly 100 sq meters) and they love it.
Paul - The Kind Little Blogger says
Something we mustn’t ignore with free range is that the chickens still have a “productive lifespan”. Once they hit off they go…
Gavin Webber says
Very true Paul
Wouldn’t it be simple Gavin if everyone that had a back yard just had a little pen of 3 chickens to scratch around the yard- problem solved. On the odd occasion when we run out of eggs we make sure we don’t buy caged eggs but I am becoming increasingly wary of ‘earth friendly /animal friendly ‘ phrases and pictures in advertising that indicate the animal is living some kind of perfect life when it may well be very far from the truth.
My boyfriend and I were just discussing this last night and then I saw this post! So glad we have chickens now and we know how they are treated. Australia needs to bring in much stricter labeling laws.
It’s all semantics! And it stinks! Research into the true meaning of free-range was on my list of things to look into as I had heard enough rumours to have doubts but you have done the hard work for me. Thank you. And sadly, my suspicions and the rumours I had heard have been confirmed.
Our food industry needs to show some transparency in its practices and terminology and we should not have to keep updating the words used to describe how its raised.
The more I hear and read and see about the way we farm food here in Australia, (or America or the UK or probably mostly anywhere really) the less I trust. I am profoundly grateful we have our own hens and can’t wait for our eldest duck (Mandy) to begin laying, probably in the next month or 2, and for our Dorkings to reach point of lay too. Our 3 bantams really aren’t providing enough eggs for us all.
Energiser Bunny says
I’ve been trying to explain all these differences to my 80 year old mother (who was a dairy farmer for 15 years to boot) and she’s now buying free range to humour me, though I’m asking her to grab grass fed when she can find them. Here in Queensland, they recently upped the stocking rates 10 fold whilst still allowing the free ranged definition, and they are now something akin to a peak hour bus. Nice. I agree with Kim, with goal posts that keep moving, it would be better if the majority of people had their own chooks. We have 25, which might be a bit of overkill, but hey, who doesn’t love a chook? And Gavin, you might want to add “flies over a six foot fence to get to my newly manured veggie patch despite having her wings clipped” chickens
I admit that I don’t know a lot about chicken-farming, but I do think that a lot of these problems stem from consumers (and of course the Government), not the farmers themselves.
Nobody seems happy spending more than ~15% (at the most!) of their income on food, when traditionally >30% was more common. If people are that reluctant to spend money on food, naturally something’s gotta give and in this case it’s animal welfare. In another case it’s child labour for chocolate/cocoa or underpaid labour for tea/coffee. “Conventional” farming that damages the physical environment seems to be another expression of this.
Ironically, in my experience it’s often the people who can least afford the more expensive, ethical alternative who will purchase them, but many (of course there’s many who don’t too) people on higher incomes are reluctant to buy the more ethical versions, then happily go on an overseas holiday etc. Everyone’s choice is their own of course, but I can’t help but question any mindset that priorities pleasure-seeking over animal welfare and human labour conditions.