Wednesday, February 28, 2018
The differences with eggs - why some are better than others
The nutrients in every egg you eat only come from the feed available to the chickens. Ingredients fed to the hens make a profound difference to the quality of each egg. We are a low density, genuine free range farm and our hens are free to roam at all times, grazing on predominately native pasture and eating whatever seeds, insects, bugs, worms etc.they find – they can only do this because they have full beaks. Most egg farms, even those which claim to be 'free range',do not have fully beaked birds. They choose to beak trim their hens to avoid problems resulting from aggressive behaviour within their flocks because they have too many hens. Violence resulting in injury or cannibalism is only a serious issue on intensive farms. If a problem of aggression within the flock arises, either the farmer has bought the wrong type of hens - or he (or she) has too many!! The maximum number in each flock on our farm is 350 hens, and we usually run four or five flocks. Many so-called 'free range' farms have many thousands of hens in sheds and they limit access to the outdoors - if the hens go outside at all.This is the way a producer has enough eggs to supply major supermarkets - so if you want genuine free range eggs, don't go to a supermarket. With mobile laying sheds regularly moved around the paddocks, we are able to maintain pasture growth all year. We provide a supplementary grains-based ration containing no meat meal to satisfy all the nutritional requirements for our hens to maintain good health and an excellent lay rate. We specify no meat meal in the feed for our hens because it is often processed from chickens - either from so-called 'spent hens' which are no longer productive on big farms or from day-old rooster chicks which are discarded at the hatcheries.For more information about how our farm operates or to read our eBook on setting up a genuine free range farm, check out our website: freeranger.com.au. We are also planning webinars to encourage more people to set up proper free range farms. How are Freeranger Eggs different? Our free range hens spend as much time as they like outdoors grazing on pasture and doing what they do naturally-scratch around for bugs and worms. There is no need for them to be locked up as birds in each flock are protected from predators 24 hours a day by their Maremma guard dogs. Our feed(which supplements what our hens find in their paddocks) is from a certified feed mill which uses precise nutritional information to formulate a diet especially for us to ensure a superior, tasty, natural egg. Most 'free range' eggs are laid on farms with high stocking densities and with beak-trimmed birds. Freeranger Eggs has an outdoor stocking density of 15 - 40 hens per hectare. On our 80 hectare property we run 1200 hens but during busy holiday periods with extra demand we may run an additional flock taking our total numbers to 1500. As our sheds are only roost houses with nest boxes for laying, the hens spend very little time indoors, unlike most farms where hens are kept indoors most of the time and lights are installed to keep the hens eating and laying eggs. Our hens are allowed to live a natural life – so when it gets dark, they sleep. It means we don’t have a lay rate as high as on a big commercial farm but the chooks are happy.