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Old 03-26-2012, 11:12 AM   #1
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Egg Guide direct from the Farm!

There have been a lot of questions over the years about eggs here, so since I raise chickens I want to clear up some misconceptions about the production of eggs.

Free Range Eggs: this is the term you want to look for when purchasing your eggs, these are hens who have never spent a day in a cage. They are hatched by their mothers who sit on them for 21 days and within a few days of hatching them she will slowly start to guide them to food and water. Free Range chickens spend their entire lives grazing in open or in fenced pastures where they forage for grasses, bugs, frogs, snakes, etc. Chickens are omnivores. They are provided with indoor laying boxes and grains if they choose to eat them, however most only eat from the grain as a last choice during the day. This is how we raise our chickens. Some people call it pastured, however Free Range is the correct term, these chickens are never given growth hormones or antibiotics.

Organic Eggs: only mean the hens were fed non GMO grains. These chickens are typically raised no different from other store bought caged animals, however these chickens are never given growth hormones or antibiotics.

Cage Free: only means they have not been raised in a cage, they are still typically raised in long covered buildings and never experience a day of outdoor life.

Brown Eggs: are nothing special in most stores, they are raised in a cage or a large building just like all commercially produced eggs, only brown eggs that are Free Range have a taste difference to white eggs.

Typical Store Bought White Eggs: These chickens have never seen the sun. Once they are hatched they are vaccinated and moved to layered pens to grow. Here is the typical commercial egg layers vaccination schedule: Vaccination Program for Commercial Layers*
They are caged by the time they are 6 to 7 months of age and only sit in a cage 24 hours a day until they can no longer produce the amount of eggs the brooder house requires per week. These are genetically modified breed of the original Leghorn variety who were engineered by these factories to mature quick and to lay often, most are spent before they reach a year of a half and are then sent to slaughter. They cannot even stand up in their cages during what little life they have. The vaccination schedule is enough to keep me from ever eating a white store bought egg. Also, store bought eggs are typically 3+ weeks old before they get to the grocery store. I know some people are allergic to eggs, however you may want to try Free Range eggs, since they are free of vaccinations you may find you can eat the Free Range eggs.

We have over 60 chickens, with over 10 variety of different breeds, and one breed of Black Sumatra's that is nearly extinct. We love our birds, and yes they have personalities and those that are pets to us know their names and come when we call them. They are affectionate creatures who deserve so much better than commercial producers afford them. We give them as much protection as we can, at the same time as we offer them the lifestyle all livestock should be offered. Free Range is what all livestock prefer, even though we occasionally have lost some young ones over the years, to chicken hawks. We do not eat our chickens, we only consume their eggs. And contrary to common belief, you do not need a rooster for a hen to lay. All hens lay when they become egg laying age, and that differs from breed to breed. Those are the type of eggs that you get at the grocery store, eggs that are sterile, commercial hens don't know what a rooster is. Rooster's are necessary with Free Range only, simply because they are the watchdogs over the flock. They watch the sky's constantly for predators as well as their surrounding pastures, and at the first sign of danger, they crow the alert to head for the barn! It's amazing to watch how protective they are, and how loving they are when it comes to their brood of hens. Any treats we give them, they pick up by their beaks and hand over to their hens, roosters are truly amazing and beautiful creatures!

And finally and most important, if you have never tasted a Free Range egg, you are in for a treat when you do. First, the yolks are a deep dark yellow orange, not a very light yellow as are store bought eggs. Eggs shell color has absolutely nothing to do with the taste...that's actually true. It's all about what the chickens eat, because what they eat, determines how flavorful the eggs is. Typically the yolks are bigger in Free Range as well, since most farmers wouldn't own a commercial Leghorn hen breed. Our hens lay eggs for many years. Most of the breeds we have will lay into their teens. Our girls live out their life with us happy and the way chickens were meant to be raised, roaming all over our 6 acres.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what kind of eggs you wish to eat in the future.
Sherrie

Last edited by sherrielee; 03-26-2012 at 11:23 AM..
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:52 AM   #2
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Sherrie, what a beautiful post! I once took a group of preschoolers to a local egg ranch at the invitation of the farmer, and was horrified at what we saw: chickens in tiny cages stacked all the way to the ceiling with troughs to catch their eggs and roll them down to a conveyor belt. Their little feet were bleeding and they all appeared to be in terrible health. I scooped the children up and hurried them out, aghast that the farmer would have invited four-year-olds to see such a sight. I have bought eggs from free range chickens ever since.

I appreciate your kindness and sensitivity to our fellow creatures. Diana
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:14 PM   #3
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I saw this after I posted in another thread. Thanks for the clarification on eggs. I have a friend who says hers are cage free but she is actually raising free range. They have a fenced pasture area where they roam all day. In the evening she rounds them up into the chicken coop (not cages or boxes). I know she feeds them grain but I know its nothing special.

Its a toss up between her eggs for the summer and store eggs. I saw some labeled "cage free" at the organic food store and almost fainted at the $6.50 price tag for a dozen .
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:34 PM   #4
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It is horrible what chickens in the commercial setting go through to give us eggs, if more people knew, I think the industry would be forced to change. I can imagine what you must have thought of that farmer Diana, thank goodness most small farmers aren't like that.

When we bought our farm, we converted a big ole barn into a chicken home, they live quite a nice life. There are so many towns that will allow people to own a few hens in their backyards, you just have to check your local ordinances, most don't allow roosters because they love to crow. Living out in the country, we don't have that problem. I don't even hear it anymore, I only notice it alert calls after all these years. We have 4 roosters to look over all the hens, you have to have more than one with over 50 hens. We only supply a few other people with eggs, and they love them, so you can check around for local people who have extra eggs, we only ask 1.50 per dozen for ours. That just helps pay for the little feed they do eat daily. One good place to check for local eggs is through your local Craigslist ads. I know some of our neighbors who sell their excess through there. If I have any extra, our local Amish family takes them to use.
We trade them for fresh grass fed milk, butter, and cheese...so it's a good trade for us!
If milking wasn't such a chore, I'd have my own Jersey milk cow on pasture too. Now, there's some milk that is absolutely delicious!

I agree...$6.50 is too high for a dozen eggs.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:58 PM   #5
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Wow, this sent me right to the refrigerator to read the egg carton. Mine says Cage Free, Laid in Nests, which caused me to imagine something much nicer than the actual Cage Free definition. Thank you so much and I'll be looking for Free Range from now on.
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Old 03-26-2012, 04:49 PM   #6
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I refuse to buy grocery store eggs anymore!! I looked high and low in my community to find a farm with true "free range and organic' chickens and actually found 2, both of which I can visit anytime and see the chicken all running around everywhere!

If you google or search egg farms in your zip code you may be able to find farmers like mine around your area!

And YES, the eggs taste, smell and look so much different! Much better and just !!
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:20 PM   #7
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To be fair, "free range" is misused more often than not. There are no rigid requirements to label eggs free range, besides "access to the outdoors"-- which only means there's some kind of door/window in their enclosure. It doesn't necessarily mean they get to actually roam outside. I'd go with something labeled pastured over free range in a heartbeat, mostly because companies have realized that they can capitalize on labeling their stuff "free range", since we all get a nice picture in our heads of what it supposedly means, when in actuality it's worthless and unregulated.

ETA: I'm a big fan of shopping locally. I buy my meat grassfed, my chickens/eggs pastured. You can find local farms for whatever you're looking for at sites like EatWild, Localharvest, EatWellGuide, and i'm sure a few others I can never remember. I actually bought my first 1/4 grassfed cow from a farm that just advertised on Craigslist.

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Old 03-27-2012, 04:34 AM   #8
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Sherrilee thanks for our informative post. I would love to post it next to the egg display in my supermarket.
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Old 03-27-2012, 06:54 AM   #9
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When I was 5 or 6 my parents had a few chickens and a big white rooster I made my pet. My Dad would give him the evil eye and say, "I wonder how Whitey would taste for Sunday dinner." I would start yelling," no, no don't eat my chicken" and he would run behind me as if for protection. He did it every time my Dad would say it. Being small, I didn't think much about it, but years later I started wondering did he really know what my Dad was saying. Anyway, it's a fun memory...................... Ann
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:12 AM   #10
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Is $1.75 high for cage free eggs? A woman I know sells hers for this
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Old 03-27-2012, 08:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkeeterN View Post
Is $1.75 high for cage free eggs? A woman I know sells hers for this
A lot depends on where you live, but to me that price seems about right. I pay $2 per doz, but I like that I have a personal relationship with my Egg Lady. Her chickens are pastured so they can forage, but I know she supplements their diet with grains.

I make a conscious choice to pay $2 to my local farmer than pay $4.25 at the healthfood store or $1.19 in the regular grocery store. And the taste is really different!
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:47 PM   #12
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Sherilee, thank you for the information.My Full Circle eggs say Organic Free Roaming. We go through a lot of eggs and I pay $4.99 for mine. No way would I go back to eating regular eggs.

Dee
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:02 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by sherrielee View Post
It is horrible what chickens in the commercial setting go through to give us eggs, if more people knew, I think the industry would be forced to change.
It would be silly to think this would ever happen. There is no way that your method could supply the millions (billions?) of eggs that are used each year.

Same way with those that wish all beef was 'grass-fed'. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough room in the world to accomidate the required number of cattle to supply the world with grass-fed beef.

Plus, it would be too expensive. You're asking the farmer to make less than he does now, I highly doubt that there are many that would work as hard, as many hours as a farmer does for the pay he recieves. I've never known any 'rich' farmers.
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SkeeterN View Post
Is $1.75 high for cage free eggs? A woman I know sells hers for this
Dirt cheap in my opinion.

I sell my eggs for $3.00 to friends and a kid I know sells hers for $7.00 at the farmers market where her parents sell other things.
$3.00 only pays for the feed which allows us to have all the eggs we want without buying them.
According to the original poster I cannot have free range eggs since I use an incubator to hatch my chicks?
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Old 03-27-2012, 10:32 PM   #15
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Thank you Sherrilee

It's going to be a big change for us. We have eaten CostCo eggs
for years. Now I only want range free. Trader Joe's sells them
and that is what I'm going to buy. The story of those poor hens
never roaming or standing. I can't eat those eggs now.
I'm going to Google to see if I can find anything that we are doing
here. We have organic veggies and fruits at our farm markets.
I grow my own veggies. But as for eggs, meat and dairy, I will
have to investigate.
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:00 AM   #16
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Yes, mass marketing has downgraded our farm industry to an all time low in treatment of livestock. However, there is enough room to raise all livestock for consumption humanely...it's just cheaper to do it the way most do know.

However, things are changing FatCat, a few years ago you didn't see chicken meat for sale that was labeled with no antibiotics, no hormones, etc. Walmart, now carries these fresh meats as part of their regular inventory as well as some grass fed beef items. Just 5 years ago, that wasn't a reality. If you ever taste livestock that is grass fed, you'd never want the other stuff again.

Most people can have a few hens in their back yards as long as it's fenced and you provide them a proper shelter/coop. Many cities are changing their ordinances to accommodate people who are supplementing their grocery bill. You could just about raise 3 hens on no grain, except in winter, just in a back yard and feeding them your scraps that you normally toss in the trash can. Our chickens love old stale bread! My big rooster has a love of Talapia fish!

The industry is not going to change overnight, but it is happening and thank goodness for these few who have started the ball rolling.

Jez, Free Range is the correct term, it's been used since I was a little girl, my grandfather used the term over 50 years ago. It started out as "Ranging on Grass" a term the older farmers used to describe their summer habits of turning the cattle back on the grassy ranges of the farm. In the winter they would "Field Range" them on the harvested grain fields and not only did the cattle benefit from the grains left behind from harvest, the cattle then provided the fertilizer for the following spring plowing! Nice little system, shame it's rarely used these days, except by small farmers and the Amish still use this practice. Now the spray them with chemicals on their GMO crops, so we can all get sicker in the future. Thank goodness a lot are learning that it's more profitable to convert to organic farming...things are changing very slowly for the good.

You know Heidinem, posting this information by the eggs in the grocery store would be good for the customers, but I bet the store manager would remove them. Or maybe ask first and see if he/she would allow you to post it. People should really know and understand what they are feeding their families.

Sherrie
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Old 03-28-2012, 10:36 AM   #17
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If you ever taste livestock that is grass fed, you'd never want the other stuff again.
born and raised in Iowa. Ex-FIL was a farmer. I hunted Iowa extensively, I knew the state. I also lived in Wisconsin for 20 years. I saw very few stockyards like are depicted in PETA shows. Cattle were allowed to graze in pastures and crop fields. Hormone shots? Don't know. Anti-biotics...most certainly as the farmer needs to protect his investment as much as possible. They were almost always fed a mixture coming from the CoOp, I'm sure that feed was fortified with minerals and vitamins and the cattle were fed silage too. So yes. I was raised on good beef and pork.

Quote:
Jez, Free Range is the correct term, it's been used since I was a little girl, my grandfather used the term over 50 years ago. It started out as "Ranging on Grass" a term the older farmers used to describe their summer habits of turning the cattle back on the grassy ranges of the farm. In the winter they would "Field Range" them on the harvested grain fields and not only did the cattle benefit from the grains left behind from harvest, the cattle then provided the fertilizer for the following spring plowing! Nice little system, shame it's rarely used these days, except by small farmers and the Amish still use this practice.
Also an added benefit to the farmer is that when cattle, pigs (and chickens too!) pick up that waste grain, that doesn't leave as much to germinate the next year when the farmer has rotated that corn field and has now planted soy beans. He doesn't want corn in his beans so he has to lay out money for an herbicide to kill off the corn.

When my ex-FIL got out of the cattle business, he plowed up the pasture to plant more corn. He had a heck of time plowing it, that field had been pasture for over 100 years. He never had to lay down any fertilizer for over 5 years, the corn grew taller, greener, thicker with a better yeild than the rest of his farm. You could visually see the difference.


Quote:
Now the spray them with chemicals on their GMO crops, so we can all get sicker in the future. Thank goodness a lot are learning that it's more profitable to convert to organic farming...things are changing very slowly for the good.
I see this as an alarmist statement. We've been eating "GMO" food for decades. Do you like Delicious apples? They aren't 'natural'. They were developed decades ago by an Iowan. They corn we eat isn't natural. Corn is a grass. It's genes have been manipulated to give us popcorn, white kernal sweet corn, yellow and white kernal sweet corn...corn that can withstand dry periods, wet seasons, etc.. There were never any 'breeds' of cattle, pigs, (or cats and dogs for that matter), like we have today. All those animals have had their genes manipulated by selective breeding to give us ugly little dogs with buggy eyes, cats of various colors, beef with nice tender ribeyes. You can't escape it.
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:35 PM   #18
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Sherrie - are you the lady who loves horses and also loves to paint? Curious me.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:03 PM   #19
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SherriLee

Your chicken post change my life.

I only buy free range from certified sources now.
Can't bear to think that all the eggs I've eaten have
been from those poor chickens who can't even walk or stand.

Thank you again.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:22 PM   #20
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LOL, yes Jennifer...I'm the one! I love horses, they are so good for the soul.

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Sherrie - are you the lady who loves horses and also loves to paint? Curious me.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:27 PM   #21
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Good for you Barbo, if more people knew, they would want the best eggs possible for themselves and their families. My girls are feeling the springtime weather here in Tennessee, boy are they laying the eggs the last few weeks.
I also have 2 broody hens who want to sit already and hatch some babies! They are so funny this time of year chasing the bugs, they never get old watching them forage in the spring. It's buffet time for them!

Sherrie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbo View Post
Your chicken post change my life.

I only buy free range from certified sources now.
Can't bear to think that all the eggs I've eaten have
been from those poor chickens who can't even walk or stand.

Thank you again.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:14 AM   #22
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I think I'm going to fork over the money to buy better eggs from now on.......

Thank you dearly for taking all the time to write this post - it was very informative and really makes you realize how much you don't know.
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