One of the many questions people have about farming is the eggs. There’s organic and free range. Are they the same thing? Is one better than the other? Here we take a look at the differences, based on the UK definitions.
Firstly, it should be said that Vegans don’t eat eggs at all. They are the product of animals and therefore are not consumed. Most Vegetarians, however, do eat eggs - therefore it’s important to know the difference.
Shockingly, the UK consumes nearly 13 billion eggs a year. About 50% of these are free range, and just 2% are organic. The rest come from cages and a small few in barns.
Flock sizes are smaller for Organic chickens, at a maximum of 2,000 birds per sq/m vs 16,000 in free range farms.
Organic Chickens actually ‘range free’. There are more exit holes on the hen houses for organic chickens, meaning they can explore more often.
The diet of Organic chickens is non GM, whereas free range chickens can eat Genetically Modified foods.
Beak trimming. You’ve probably heard of the pecking order. Well that comes from chickens who fight for dominance by pecking each other. It’s a natural thing, but what’s unnatural is keeping the hens packed tightly in cages where they can’t escape. That’s why the more open nature of organic is better, and they can therefore do less or even no beak trimming. Whereas for free-range and caged hens, their beaks are mutilated.
To summarise, for Vegans, eating eggs is always wrong. For Vegetarians, it’s important to know that there are wild differences between free-range and organic chickens, no matter what the picture on the box may lead you to believe.