The descriptions, however, aren’t always what they seem. For example, “cage-free” doesn’t necessarily mean the hens have any access to the outside and “free range” can simply mean the birds had access to an outdoor area made up of bare dirt or concrete. Research even suggests it’s safer to eat eggs from caged birds, because hens allowed to free range are exposed to pollutants, pesticides and chemicals in the soil.
If you’re referring to backyard chickens or chickens that are truly free range, and if the pen is movable (such as a chicken tractor), then the answer comes from Mother Earth News. A study was conducted on 14 flocks around the country that either ranged freely or were housed in movable pens feeding on seeds, green plants, bugs and worms. The study concluded that the eggs produced by free-range hens were nutritionally superior to those sold in supermarkets. Here’s the results:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
My coop is attached to a run or pen and my birds are only in their coop to sleep or lay an egg. Otherwise, they’re scratching and foraging constantly. Even if I can’t say that my flock is free range, I feel comfortable that I know what they’re eating and that they are treated humanely. I can say for a fact that my chickens’ eggs taste better than any supermarket egg I’ve ever had!
In conclusion to your question, I feel strongly that if the above facts are true, then there is more reason than ever to raise your own flock or buy from a local farmer you trust. Then you will know what the birds are exposed to and how they are treated. And you’ll have more confidence in the nutritional value and quality of the eggs.
Visit my website at ..the garden-roof coop.