I'm a great fan of chooks. They are so cute and they lay delicious eggs for us to eat and bake with, what's not to like?! We had a pet rooster and hen in NZ, they were loads of fun and we loved them a lot.
I always buy free range eggs. I know that they are sometimes more expensive but I prefer to buy free range eggs knowing that the hens laying eggs for us to eat have a happy life doing what chooks like to do, pottering and flapping about, scratching away at the ground and exploring, just being generally lovely and chook-like. LOL
Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day. Most people will be buying eggs for their pancakes and the RSPCA, and I, are encouraging you to look for eggs labelled Freedom Food, Free Range, Organic or Barn. I'm personally not a fan of Barn eggs, but they're cage free so better than caged, but I personally prefer free range.
This is really important because some eggs still come from hens kept in cages which don't allow hens to move around freely or carry out all their natural behaviours properly.
Barren ‘conventional’ battery cages have been banned in the EU but so-called ‘enriched’ battery cages are still allowed.
Enriched battery cages give hens a nesting, scratching and perching area and a little more usable space, but shockingly this still amounts to little more than an A4 sheet of paper sized space per bird. That is an awfully small amount of space, barely enough to turn around let alone flap their wings a bit.
This is why the RSPCA and I think it’s so important to check that you’re buying cage-free eggs. Yes I am harping and nagging, but it's something I feel passionate about. I'm very fond of chooks!
And consumers need to be on their guard. It’s not just boxes of eggs that might be from caged hens, oh no, they’re also used as an ingredient in products such as pancake batter mixes, ready-made pancakes, cake mixes, mayonnaise, ready made cakes and quiches. It’s important to read the ingredients list on ready-made products to check any eggs used in are is cage-free.
It's not that hard to buy premade foods that contain Free Range Eggs instead of caged eggs. All Marks and Spencer products, all Waitrose, Co-Op and Sainsbury's own brand products, Tesco ‘Finest’ range, Asda ‘Extra Special’ range and Morrisons 'The Best' range all contain only Free Range eggs.
Apparently, Free Range Eggs are starting to outsell caged eggs for the first time. This is great news. It means people are voting with their wallets to buy eggs laid by hens who are kept under better conditions. If consumers continue shopping wisely and choosing not to buy caged eggs then they will eventually disappear due to lack of demand. That would be a brilliant result!
If you would like more information about the RSPCA’s campaign and how to spot cage-free versus Free Range eggs check out their website. The RSPCA have also produced a poster, as illustrated below to help interpret and decipher labelling to make sure you're buying non-caged eggs. If you would like one of your own click here.