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As sure as eggs are eggs

IMG_1916The eggs in this picture all come from different sources.

  • One of our very own birds – the not so little Aretha.
  • An organic free range egg from a supermarket
  • An egg advertised as a barn egg from the same supermarket.

It’s obvious which one is from our bird, the yolk is a vibrant, plump orange and the texture is firm.  It tasted pretty bloomin’ good too.  Poached eggs for brekkie anyone?

In 2004 EU legislation was introduced that made it compulsory to provide information on how the birds are kept on the label.

  • Eggs from caged hens – battery hen cages have been banned in the UK since 2012 – hurrah! Although sadly “enriched” cages are still legal.  There is a specification on the minimum size of the cage but it’s tiny – less than the size of an A4 sheet
  • Barn Eggs – sounds better right? Conjures up images of a large airy space where hens have shelter but are still free to roam.  Whilst this may be the case occasionally, these hens may never see daylight and can be crammed in a closed space with thousands of others.  They are however provided with dust baths and perches
  • Free range – eggs can be called free range if the hen always has access to the outside during the date, however these birds may also spend most of their time inside a barn or building.

How can you be sure that you are buying eggs laid by healthy, happy chooks? The very best way to know is to buy locally and check for yourself.  Look out for signs advertising local eggs and ask if you can pop into the farm or smallholding to see the hens strutting their staff.  Even better, adopt a hen or five check out the British Hen Welfare Trust http://www.bhwt.org.uk/rehome-some-hens/

If you can’t do this then you can look for organic eggs, but check they are certified.  Eggs labelled as certified by the soil association must adhere to minimum welfare standards.  These state  “You must always look after your animals’ physical and behavioural needs, health and well-being so that they enjoy the ‘five freedoms’ – freedom from:

o   malnutrition

o   physical discomfort and extremes of temperature

o   injury and disease

o   fear and distress

o   unnecessary restrictions of behaviour

A copy of the standards can be read here https://www.soilassociation.org/media/4491/standards_farming_growing.pdf

The RSPCA also give their stamp of approval to eggs.  If this logo appears then it means that the farm meets their minimum welfare standards.  It’d not obvious from the website what these standards are, although they state that they cover food, bedding and light.  The RSPCA are also independent from the food industry.

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