I really quite fancy the idea of having hens. I have romantic images of nipping out into the garden lavishing kitchen scraps on my clucking companions, before collecting their eggs and watching them spend the day tottering about the garden making me giggle.
It all sounds rather lovely until I think of the logistics on our tiny block of land, clipping their wings (which I am certainly not brave enough to do, though I would like to be), and maybe unsavoury smells plaguing my neighbours and I? I clearly don’t know enough about the proper management of hens. But I can still be responsible for where I get my eggs, trying my best to make sure they are laid by a happy hen somewhere.
I don’t know about you but every time I am faced with the egg section in a supermarket I’m sent into a mild panic trying to find which eggs are ok, both for me and the hen. Recently TV chefs like Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver have alerted us to the squalid conditions faced by many birds, so we know to avoid cage eggs at all costs.
I thought by buying Barn laid eggs I was doing the right thing, because the chickens on the box looked pretty pleased on a patch of grass, but have since found that while they weren’t in cages all day, they still never saw the sun and were farmed intensively with hundreds of hens per square meter. Not great. Those chickens on the box must have been rogue escapees.
So I have had a look at some informative websites, it is all a little cryptic. I found that even some free range farms still snip the beaks and toes of chickens and their stocking
density left a lot to be desired. Here are a few links below for extra reading. I have also prepared a basic list for Australians so you have an easy guide to which eggs are kindest. (because really life has enough decisions, and we are all too damn busy to decipher things in the egg isle)
The farms I have listed below all have the same standards, or better, for the chooks.
• Their farm is independently audited.
• Antibiotics and growth promoting hormones are not permitted.
• Birds have easy access to an area on which to range during daylight hours. Specifically, poultry must have access to pastured ‘green pick’ areas.
• Beak trimming, toe trimming, de-snooding or any other mutilations are not permitted.
• Stocking density for outdoor range in 1000 birds per hectare. A lot of them have much much less birds per square hectare.
• Stocking density indoors must not exceed 5 birds per square meter.
Sometimes only the larger stores are around so look out for these brands
Macro free range eggs brand
or Sunny Queens Eggs, specifically the Organic free range eggs.
Sunny Queens Eggs, specifically the Organic free range eggs.
Here are some places for those of us who are conscious of hen happiness AND trying to keep it as Local as possible, per state. (I couldn’t find any for Northern territory or Western Australia, so if you know of any comment below.) (Also if you are an international reader and know somewhere with the same standards as above I would love to be able to add to the list, so comment below)
It would pay to click on the links, and memorise the name and packaging, so overtime when you head to the shops, you can know you have done your best.
Silverdale Free Range Eggs-Looking at the stockists they seem to be at a few IGA’s across Queensland, even the one in Cleveland. Hoorah!
Organigrow, technically in Lismore on the New South Wales Border, but they supply Wray Organic stores amongst others across Queensland and New South Wales.
New South Wales
Idlewilde Farm, their website is brilliant and they even encourage visits so you can really see where your eggs are coming from.
Mulloon Creek Natural farms, they supply various health stores and cafes across NSW and also sell organic beef, lamb and pork.
Southern Highlands Organic Free Range
Organigrow, they supply Wray Organic stores amongst others across Queensland and New South Wales.
Family Homestead Free-Range Eggs – These guys are stocked in Coles across Victoria, so that is super handy.
Long Paddock Eggs Bungendore
Cuppacumbalong Free range eggs, check them out here
***Disclaimer: I am definitely not an expert, just a concerned consumer, trying to do my best so for further information head to the links above. This is also not an exhaustive list of the places to find happy hens, many smaller stores and markets have local suppliers, do a search to see if there are any in your local area that meet the standards above and comment below for others
A good source of information for which farms have an ethical Animal welfare standard, choice.com has a list which also includes price, which we have to be honest is important.
Animal Welfare Labels are a one stop shop of information about the different companies across Australia and the standards they follow, you can click on the links and check out the businesses for your self too.