Casto River Farm: Different sources of eggs
The eggs you buy are usually either conventional white eggs or brown organic eggs. But how do you tell which colour is organic and which is conventional? Actually not by colour as some white eggs are from free-range chickens such as those at Casto River Farms.
Here is how eggs are classified according to how the chickens are raised and what they eat.
Organic eggs come from chickens that eat a vegetarian diet and are free from animal meat, pesticides and other chemicals.
Chickens who lay organic eggs must live in a cage-free environment and are free to pasture outdoors, even if it is just a small pen or an enclosed yard. The chickens must be able to roam around in nature and be protected from animal predators.
That’s the reason why the cost of organic eggs is usually double the cost of commercial eggs because of the expenses in meeting organic requirements.
Free-range eggs are not the same as organic eggs. Free-range eggs must come from hens that can move about freely both up and down in indoor houses. Different farms use a variety of enclosures and sheds because there are no strict standards on how much space hens should have.
This is not the traditional meaning of free-range chickens. You will find real free-range chickens in rural areas like Casto River Farms where there are wide open spaces for the birds to roam around and look for their own food.
Hens that produce free-range eggs must have access to fresh food and water. They must also be able to go outside whenever they want throughout their laying cycle. Often enclosures have fences or netting.
Farmers must provide areas that will enable the birds to live as naturally as possible, such as scratching areas, perches and nests. The environment must allow the hens to behave naturally like scratching for their own food. They also must be protected from animals that will prey on them for food.
These are your regular supermarket eggs and they come from poultry farms that are packed and crowded. The birds have little or no opportunity to follow their instincts to peck, scratch, flap, run, perch and take dust baths.
These chicken farms are primarily farming the eggs not the chicken, that’s why the birds are fed with chemicals that make them lay eggs several times a day. They are given grains mixed with vitamins and minerals. They are housed in sheds without natural daylight.
A special type of conventional eggs is called Omega-3 enriched eggs. They can be classified as genetically modified because their feed is added with Omega-3 which may come from chemical vitamins and minerals.
It’s not easy to find free-range farms where hens can freely roam in open space with natural sunlight. But these pastured eggs are more nutritious because of their natural diet.