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Why 'Pasture Raised' eggs may not be what you think...

Pasture Raised Eggs
Nice! Right?

With today’s focus on health, the agriculture industry has needed to take a good look in the mirror about how they treat their animals and process food products in healthier ways.

The problem?

While many positive changes have been made, it has also created buzzwords and terms that create confusion and can mislead the public, especially when the full meaning behind the terms is vague.

Take the egg industry, for example.

You hear a lot of egg farmers using terms like “cage free,” “free range,” or “pasture raised,” but have you ever checked to see what these terms and definitions actually mean?

Join me in taking a look at some of the actual meanings behind these terms, and at the end, we are going to introduce a new term:  “Mobile Pastured.”

Cage Free:

When you hear this term, you might picture hens moving openly in a yard, chasing bugs, and pecking in the grass.

Sadly, this is not the case.

Cage-Free Chickens
Cage-Free are still behind bars.

In order to be certified by the USDA as cage free, the eggs must be “produced by hens housed in a building, room, or enclosed area that allows for unlimited access to food, water, and provides the freedom to roam within the area during the laying cycle.”

Did you catch that?  Cage free chickens are kept indoors 24/7!

And if you think that these chickens have a lot of room to roam indoors, think again; the space requirement to be Certified Humane  is 1.5 square feet per hen.

Free Range:

I know what you’re thinking:  “This must certainly mean that the chickens are now outdoors all the time!”

Hmmmm, think again…

Free Range Chickens
Free Range Chickens can access outdoors

Free range chickens still live in barns, but they do need to have continuous access to the outdoors.  This is better than cage free, but there are still some problems.

First, to be Certified Humane, they need only 2 square feet of outdoor space per hen.  Talk about a crowded outdoor space!

Second, even though they technically have access to the outdoors, many free range chickens don’t use it.  Instead, they stay inside the majority of the time.

Pasture Raised:

Here is where it can start getting a little tricky, and some farms claiming to be “pasture raised” really know how to use the definitions in their favor.

Pasture Raised Eggs
Pasture Raised, but where do they live?

To be pasture raised, Certified Humane says that each chicken must have 108 square feet of outdoor per bird.

That sounds fantastic, and it does work well, if the chickens actually take advantage of it.

Because pasture raised chickens still have a central barn that doesn’t move, the main ground area around around the structure quickly becomes overcrowded and packed-down dirt, similar to free range chickens.  

And while the chickens do have access to a much larger pasture, few of them will every wander far enough away to reach the “108 square foot per chicken” rule, especially if it is a large flock.

Mobile Pastured:

This is a recent term, so you probably haven’t heard it before.  Mobile pastured not only passes the “pasture raised” definition, it takes it to a new level.

How do mobile pastured eggs beat the competition?

First, mobile pastured chickens are kept in a chicken house that is mobile.  This allows the chicken house to be moved around to different pastures and fields, and the chickens are always foraging on fresh grass.  You won’t find large patches of useless dirt here!

Second, because the chicken houses are mobile, they are smaller in size, and the number of chickens per house is also less.  Instead of thousands of chickens crowding around a large barn, mobile chicken houses will only have several hundred per house.  This keeps crowding to a minimum, resulting in the chickens getting fresh grass without having too wander far away.

Mobile Pastured Egg Yolks
Mobile Pastured Egg Yolks

If you are concerned about getting the best eggs you can, we dare you to try our mobile pastured eggs today!

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