EGGS – free range vs. organic

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    Hi, all 🙂 I’ve noticed “free range” eggs coming up in multiple posts. I was wondering if, perhaps, the definition of what makes eggs free range varies from place to place (?). Here, in the sunny midwest (and, I believe, throughout the U.S.) free range simply means that the chickens are not kept in coops and they often eat “wild” food (bugs, worms, etc.) in addition to feed. “Organic” on the other hand means that the chicken feed is organic (often vegetarian, but not always), but most importantly, the laying hens are never given antibiotics. The “free range” eggs around here don’t say anything about being “antibiotic free”. but the organic eggs all label their cartons as such. As far as I know, avoiding the antibiotics seems to be the most significant factor in choosing eggs for an ACD, so wouldn’t organic eggs be what we’re after? Don’t free range eggs still have the antibiotics just a more humane environment and more natural feed?

    I’ve been wondering about this for a while. Any thoughts?


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    I know where I live, the best standard in the area from a cruelty free perspective is the regional SPCA standard that they certify farms with. (I’m in Canada, do you have the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the US?)

    They have the certification details and standard components listed on their website here:
    BC SPCA farm management standard

    In the BCSPCA standard one of their key components is not to feed antibiotics for growth enhancement, however I think individual animals can be fed them if they are sick because another component of this is to keep the animals free from pain, injury or disease. From this I gather the eggs I’m eating MIGHT have been from a chicken fed antibiotics IF that chicken were sick. Way better odds of avoiding the antibiotics, at least, especially since the chicken is allowed to run around and build an actual immune system!

    I also found this Canadian article, which had the following paragraph of US information in it.

    I checked out the Humane Society of the United State’s Brief Guide to Egg Carton Labels and was horrified to discover that USDA-certified “Organic” egg producers allow forced molting—a.k.a. starving the birds—and beak cutting. It seemed that for the US the only label that prohibited these acts was “Animal Welfare Approved.” Not much use to me, however, here in Canada.

    So I guess you have to do your homework between the Humane Society, USDA-certification and maybe others? Good luck!

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