Why People should Switch to Free Range Eggs
There is a lot of debate about what is “free range” and what isn't. The legalities of the definition vary depending on what country you are in. In most places it means the chickens have grass under foot. In my own world, it means they are in a chicken coop at night for their own safety, but let loose in the yard for the day.
Battery hens are typically housed in very small cages, 2-3 birds in a cage so small they cannot move around. Hens start laying at 5 months, and are usually killed once laying declines at the end of the first year so they can molt.
These birds have horrid, boring, lives, cramped, and with nothing to do other than peck each other - this is why many animal activists support eating Free Range Eggs.
Some people use the term "free range" loosely as birds that have cages outside, but the cages may not be particularly large. While not great, this is still a better situation for them than in the battery of cages that most chickens in the laying industry live in. You can see how different ways of keeping hens vary - click here.
What thrills me, as a keeper of my own free range hens, is that there have been studies done to prove that free range eggs really are healthier for you to eat. I can certainly notice the better appearance and taste of my own free range eggs.
Health Benefits Found in Free Range Eggs
Free range eggs are often fresher, as with most foods the fresher they are the healthier they will be. It is often possible to buy free range eggs directly from the farmer, from a farmers market, or in my case, I just take them from my hens every day. Please note, my hens do not have roosters with them, so it is not like I am stealing their babies, the eggs are not fertile so would never hatch. Hens do not need roosters to produce eggs.
Free range eggs have been found to be lower in cholesterol, by as much as 30%.
Free range eggs contain 2 times more Vitamin A and E.
Free range eggs are alkaline. Battery hen eggs are acidic. Studies have shown that diets higher in alkaline foods are likely to prevent cancer.
Free range eggs have twice as much Omega-3 Fatty Acid. This is very likely due to the hens having a more varied diet.
Free range eggs have ¼ of saturated fat than do battery hen eggs.
Free range eggs have 5 times more Beta Carotene.
Benefits to the Hens
Free range chickens are able to eat a diet closer to their natural diet, this includes a variety of bugs and fresh greens.
Free range hens are less stressed and fight less.
Free range hens get sunlight, fresh air, and other things that contribute to a healthier, happier, animal.
Free range hens have something under their feet, other than painful wire.
Free range hens are allowed to sit on their eggs until they are ready to get off. In battery situations the eggs roll away from them as the wire cages are on a slant.
They have more mentally stimulating lives, surely something they appreciate.
Free range eggs often come from local sources; it is considered more environmentally friendly to buy food from local sources. In fact this can be so local, it is your own back yard! Well, unless you live in the country, you need to check local bylaws.
Free range chickens eat bugs, like flies, slugs, grasshoppers, and mosquitoes, they also love dandelions, even more than grass.
Many local farmers keep a few hens as extra side income. By supporting them, you contribute to the local economy, in comparison many battery farms are now becoming corporate factory farms, with money going to head offices.
When you support keeping birds in less cruel environments, you put a dent in the battery hen industry.
Although many people think of free range eggs as expensive, I really want to encourage people to eat them so sell them for less than people would pay for regular eggs in a store.