Which comes first; Organic eggs, free range, barn or caged.
10th April 2020
Eggs are a stable in diets around the world. They can be a great source of protein and are super versitile.
However, not all sources of eggs are the same. we are faced with a variety of choices, from Organic, pasture, free range, barn and caged eggs. That can be a little confusing for a consumer.
What is the difference?
While the name free-range and caged, are methods of food production and housing systems used, organic is a whole ethos.
The farmers use a system that works in harmony with the surrounding environment by thinking about how their work impacts on the welfare of the animals on their farm, as well as the surrounding flora and fauna. They place a high value on the hens’ welfare and are always free range.
The hens are only allowed to be fed majority organic feed with a small percentage of non-organic feed. They must be free from specific additives and prohibited to use synthetic amino acids. This would give the chicken a higher protein content.
There are also no preventative veterinary practices in place i.e. They don’t give the bird antibiotics in case they get sick only when they get sick.
There are monetary benefits to be made raising organic hens however. A farmer can charge a little more for organic as people realise there is more effort to put in when doing
In Ireland you would pay about 2.50-3.00 euros for a box of 6 eggs.
Free range eggs
Free range is a legal definition. It means the hens must be allowed some sort of outdoor access and a certain space per hen. These rules vary between countries. In the US, the free range means the hens must have access to the outdoors like a door, for example that the farmer could open at some point, or a small fenced off area but it doesn’t mean they get access to the outdoors. A loophole in the system.
In Ireland, the eggs can roam for about half of their lifetime outdoors. It’s up to the individual farm how much.
They get fed standard pellets or mash of a mixture of maize, barley and wheat but naturally hens like to forage for bugs and worms like other birds would.
Organic eggs are always free range at least whereas free range eggs are not always organic.
Barn and caged eggs
This is where the phrasing gets a little blurred and trickier. Barn hens live in barns all their lives in which they are free to roam. There can beup to 10,000 birds in one shed. Their eggs are collected automatically via a nesting system so there is no man power required to collect and sort the eggs.
Caged eggs , also known as battery cages, are in cages all of their lives. As animal cruelty became more important to people these methods of production were banned in 2012 . The EU changed their standardised egg laying to enriched colonies. They are bigger cages in which the eggs can roam around a little more, with up to 40 to 80 birds in each colony.
It may be a less cruel way than battery cages but the hens are in cages all their lives. It’s unnatural.
All in all…
I think if we could pay a little extra for the freedom of an animal, then why not. Organic or free range, for me, is the way to go.