Give Yourself a Free Range
Give Yourself a Free Range
It might surprise you to know that 80% of all egg production in Australia still comes from battery farms, otherwise known as cage eggs. Sometimes battery farms can have more than eight hens in one small cage, giving an individual hen less than half the size of an A4 piece of paper to live. Hens are sociable complex creatures and have certain needs just like humans. The organisation, “Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia Ltd.” (FREPA) is one group of free range producers who are setting high standards of production and quality in the free range egg industry. So what makes an egg free range? And why is it so important that we truly think about the eggs we buy and where they come from?
Hens need space
Just like humans hens need enough space without feeling confined. Confinement leads to stress in the animals and can cause them to lose feathers, attack each other and in many cases even die. Free range hens are given ample space to roam.
The great outdoors
Hens need access to the outdoors. Sure barn laid eggs give the hens freedom to move around, but they need to be able to go outside. Hens need sunlight and fresh air just like us.
Hens need shade, shelter and palatable vegetation. Whilst sunlight is crucial, shade is equally as important as hens can suffer in extreme heat.
Protection from Predators
Foxes and birds of prey are hens’ main predators and they need protection from such animals. Quality fenced-off areas are extremely important and safe housing for night time is imperative for the protection of free range hens.
Natural behaviours shown by hens include dust bathing, perching on a raised roost and laying eggs in nesting boxes. Farmers need to give hens the best opportunity to be able to display these behaviours each day.
Professional veterinary care should be given to all hens, and practices such as de-beaking (common on battery farms to prevent hens from attacking each other) and toe amputation are not permitted on free range hens. Any necessary operations should be performed with the required pain relief.
Free range egg producers should not use artificial additives in hens’ food to obtain a yellower yolk.
Farmers naturally work on a supply and demand basis, it’s simple. If the demand is there for free range eggs these farming methods will increase. You can make a huge difference in ensuring the healthy happy lives of Australian hens by insisting on free range eggs in your kitchen!
Get fresh free range eggs at the Noosa Farmers Market every Sunday and enjoy a high quality, fresh product that has been kind to Mother Nature!
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