Organic Free Range Eggs.
The egg or the chickens. Which came first? That is most likely the oldest riddle that remains unsolved by mankind. No matter which one came first, the poultry business has thrived over the years, with science and research coming up with new ways in which to improve the quality of eggs. This birthed different poultry farming practices. Current poultry practices involve the production of cage-free eggs, free-range eggs, and organic eggs among others. Cage-free and free-range usually refers to the lifestyle the chickens are subjected to. Organic on the other hand mostly refers to feeding practices. Some of the practices overlap each other depending on different practices globally. For example, poultry farmers may practice both free-range and organic poultry to get organic free range eggs. However, to understand organic free range eggs, you first have to have an understanding of the practices.
Free-range and Cage-free Lifestyles.
As the name suggests, cage-free eggs are those that are laid by chickens that are not raised in cages. The chickens are raised in a sort of floor systems in an open barn. The floors are usually bedded using pine shavings or sawdust to provide a natural ground feel. The chickens are provided with “nests” to lay their eggs in. The nests are usually boxes and perches that have conducive conditions for egg-laying. The chickens are allowed to roam freely around the barn, with minimal restriction.
Free Range Eggs.
These are eggs laid by free range chickens. Free-range poultry practice, or as increasingly referred today as “Pastured-raised poultry” involves rearing of chickens in a system that spends some time of the day indoors and part of the day roaming freely out in the open on pastures. It is a semi-natural poultry system in which the specifics of the diet and care differ from country to country. In the U.S for example, the farmers have the liberty to decide to let the chickens roam outside or not.
However, for poultry farmers to have their eggs labeled as free-range eggs, they have to demonstrate that the free-range chickens have access to the outside environment from their barns. Free-range poultry dictates that for the larger part of the day, the chickens should be allowed to roam freely and get involved in natural chickens behavior like foraging for their natural food which includes worms, insects, and seeds.
The Gray Area between cage-free and free-range eggs.
Cage-free poultry and free-range poultry mirror each other to some extent. Commercial farmers with hundreds and thousands of chickens might find it tedious to let all chickens forage freely outside the barns. It is for this reason that there is a gray area between the two. Practically speaking, chickens are labeled free-range and cage-free as long as they are not confined to individual cages.
Organic eggs are those that are laid by organic chickens. These chickens are fed only organic feeds. Artificial feeds and medicine are avoided. These organic feeds are grown naturally, without any herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides nor genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The chickens do not get vaccinated and receive no antibiotics all through their lives, unless in the case of an infectious disease outbreak. The feeds only include natural plants and seeds and under no circumstances are the organic chickens fed animal by-products. As a result, organic eggs are 99% natural without any chemical or scientific modification in the chicken’s feed and health.
Organic Free Range Eggs.
Organic free range eggs are what you get when eggs are laid by organic chickens that live a free range life. That means that both the free range poultry practice and organic poultry practice are followed, constituting to an organic free range lifestyle.
Comparison between Organic free range practice and ordinary poultry farming
Organic chickens live a free range chickens lifestyle. There is no restriction in cages. They are allowed to forage freely, spread their wings and walk, maintaining the overall physical fitness of the chickens. There is minimal human interference in the lives of the chickens unless only while feeding and collecting eggs.
In ordinary poultry farming, commercial farmers with thousands of chickens prefer keeping the chickens in cages as it is easier to maintain them and makes feeding and egg collection easy. As a result, chickens physical fitness is compromised and as a ripple effect, the quality of the eggs.
Free range chickens have a mixed diet. When inside the barns and pens, they may be fed artificially modified feeds, and when allowed outside, they roam eating their natural diet which includes seeds and worms. However, in organic free range poultry, the free range chickens are only fed organic chickens feed. That means everything has to be 100% naturally grown.
In ordinary farming, commercial poultry farmers often go for GMOs and fattening chickens feeds to accelerate chickens growth and egg production. As a result, health hazards like the August 2010 Salmonella bacteria outbreak may occur.
To get organic free range eggs, organic chickens are allowed to natural molting. Molting is the process in which birds, including chickens, shed their old worn out feathers in order to give room for new and fresh ones. Molting has an implication on the egg-laying life of the chickens. The more the chickens molt, the longer their egg laying life span.
Commercial poultry farmers in ordinary poultry practice induce forced molting by withholding food and water in order to extend the productive life of egg laying chickens.
What you get from buying organic free range eggs and chickens from organic farms.
-100% healthy natural eggs and chickens with no antibiotics or chemicals that may affect your health nor cause obesity.
-Reduced risk of contracting illnesses caused through use of genetically modified organisms in the chicken’s feed. Bacterial infections such as Salmonella contracted through ingestion of non-organic eggs and chickens.
-Organic free range eggs have higher nutritional value with twice the amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in ordinary eggs, 1/4 of the saturated fats found in ordinary eggs, and 1/3 of the cholesterol. The lowered amount of cholesterol and fats are healthier for your circulatory system while the higher amount of omega three acids is helpful in brain growth.
-Organic eggs have more vitamin content compared to ordinary eggs. They contain up to six times the content of beta carotene, 2/3 more Vitamin A and thrice the amount of vitamin E. This boosts the immune system and healthier eyesight.