We get asked all the time about our eggs, but more importantly how the chickens that produce the eggs that live at Norton Farms are cared for.
With all the different labels on egg cartons at grocery stores these days I can understand why people get confused when I tell them our chickens are free range and they ask me “what exactly does that mean?” The way I describe the way the egg laying hens at Norton Farms live is simple, “They run around outside and eat grass, bugs, and stuff”
To be a little more specific they have a coop in the barn with roosts and laying boxes, and they do not have any cages. We generally feed them their laying ration first thing in the morning and then keep them in until after lunch. At this point they have laid most of their eggs and we let them outside to roam around the farm and cause trouble. At night they generally put themselves away and we shut the door after it gets dark to help keep predators like coyotes, foxes and racoons away from the lovely ladies while they sleep.
This describes what we mean when we say free range no let’s have a look at what the super market definition of eggs are.
"Cage-free" means hens are not confined to battery cages, but that's about it. They don't have access to the outdoors, and there are no assurances about what they are fed or what kinds of medications they are given. You might see this claim on all three types of non-battery cage production eggs — free-run, free-range and organic.
Free-run eggs"Free-run" means chickens can move around in open concept barns, but they don't necessarily have access to the great outdoors and overcrowding may still be an issue.
"Free-range" means hens see the light of day (depending on the weather) and their feet actually come in contact with the earth.
Hens that produce certified organic eggs benefit from the highest welfare standards. For example, the BC SPCA Certified label assures eggs come from farms that have passed their animal welfare standards. Certified organic labels often require the use of organic feed without growth hormones or antibiotics, too.