One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at www.consumewithcare.org is which eggs to buy. Unfortunately there is no simple answer to that question. Of course we would always recommend that you buy eggs that come from hens which have been raised in a free range environment, where they able to carry out their natural behaviours. However, due to a lack of government regulation and lax labelling laws here in Australia, there is no guarantee that this is what you’re getting just because a carton of eggs is labeled free range.
There are several third party accreditation schemes that set their own standards for free range egg production. Accredited producers must comply with the standards in order to carry the logo or stamp of the particular scheme and regular audits are carried out to ensure compliance. The standards set out by the different schemes vary but at a minimum, free range eggs must come from hens that are not kept in cages and that have access to the outdoors.
See the following table for a comparison of the standards of the different schemes:
|Stocking density per shed(birds per sq metre)||5||11-14||5||9||7||6-10|
|Stocking density per outdoor paddock (birds per hectare)||1000||20,000||1,500||1,500 or 2,500||750||750|
|Allow Beak Trimming||No||Yes||No||Yes*||No||No|
* Based on veterinary advice. Only in the first 10 days of life, if other measures fail to control cannibalism
As you can see from the table, organic, Humane Choice, FRPA and FRFA certified eggs have the highest level of animal welfare standards, so these are the ones that we recommend that you buy.
These days organic eggs are widely available at supermarkets, specialty health and organic stores and farmer’s markets. For where to buy the others, please follow these links: