If you’ve ever worked or lived on a farm, you have probably interacted with free-range chickens and their eggs.
But are these eggs and the whole process of farming them sustainable?
Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s post.
Are free-range eggs more environmentally friendly?
While free-range eggs have several advantages, they aren’t environmentally friendly. This is because the hens that produce these eggs require more resources to do so. For instance, they need to eat more food to get the energy to roam about and keep warm while doing so.
What is the carbon footprint of free-range eggs?
One kilogram of free-range egg protein accounts for around 0.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide. More than 50% of this can be attributed to the food that free-range hens eat. Keep in mind though; the primary foods that these hens eat have a higher carbon footprint.
This is because a lot of nitrogen is produced during their production and transportation. Whatever the case, free-range eggs have a lower carbon footprint than meat.
Are free-range eggs cruelty-free?
No, free-range eggs aren’t necessarily cruelty-free, although they are supposed to be. In fact, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently wrote an article revealing the cruelty that free-range hens are subjected to in some parts of the world.
In it, they talked about how some free-range hens are housed in dirty, dark sheds and are rarely allowed outside. It also talks about the sheds being overcrowded, making it difficult for these hens to engage in activities like foraging.
Because of this, there is stiff competition for food and hens regularly get stressed and even lose their feathers. To make matters worse, any male chics hatched are usually killed soon after hatching.
That’s why it’s important for countries to have standards for free-range farming and have ways of ensuring that they are being adhered to.
What are the disadvantages of free-range egg farming?
One of the greatest disadvantages of free-range egg farming is that it comes with an increased likelihood of stress and aggressive behaviors like cannibalism. Also, it puts hens at risk for diseases related to manure.
Beyond that, it’s more likely to expose them to predators like eagles.
Do cage eggs have a lower carbon footprint than free-range eggs?
Yes, cage eggs have a lower carbon footprint than free-range eggs. This is because they require less resources to produce. The hens that produce them require less food and medications.
What is the most environmentally friendly egg?
The most environmentally friendly type of egg is cage eggs. However, this is not the best route for the hens and the people ingesting the eggs. After all, these eggs are usually produced by hens that live in battery cages.
These cages are usually too small to allow hens to flap their wings. To make matters worse, sometimes people place more than one hen in a cage. This causes further stress and anxiety.
A popular alternative to cage eggs is cage-free ones. These are produced by hens that don’t live in cages but instead live in an enclosed area providing around 1.25 square feet per hen.
What are the most humane eggs to buy?
The most humane eggs to buy are pasture-raised eggs. These are eggs produced by hens that are allowed to roam around pastures, forests, and other pieces of land and eat natural insects and seeds.
These hens usually take cover in hen houses during the night. For hens to be considered pasture-raised, the Certified Humane and American Humane Certified standards require that each one has access to 108 square feet of pasture.
Keep in mind that the eggs these hens produce are usually healthier than other types of eggs. They contain more folic acid, omega 3, and vitamins A, D, and B12.
Interestingly, you can easily find pasture-raised eggs in popular stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Costco.
Consider pasture-range eggs
If you are trying to get eggs that are healthy, humane, and ethical, it’s best to go with pasture-range ones. While they are not the most environmentally-friendly option out there, they are definitely the best one right now.