When I was a kid and went missing, the first place mum would look for me would be the chicken coup. I love cows but there is something very soothing about listening to the clucking of a chook. When Dad told me we would be selling eggs I was really excited. Little did I know the difference between having half a dozen chickens and four thousand cheeky hens. Ours are free to scratch, peck and explore their way across our biodynamic paddocks from dawn till dusk. But our paddocks aren’t the only place they call home. Our chickens can be found on tractors, under tractors, on the back patio, on the front veranda and usually everywhere but the paddock. As I said, they are a cheeky bunch. We call our girls pastured hens rather than free –range but have you ever wondered about the difference?
When I can’t get my hands on Mungalli eggs it can be a daunting task picking the right carton to take home. There are so many words used to differentiate each carton, from cage-free, to free range to pastured. I often end up with information overload and reach for the closest carton before quickly getting out of there.
The word “pastured eggs” is actually relatively new. The laws changed recently, allowing commercial egg producers to label their eggs ‘free-range’ if the stocking density was 10,000 hens per hectare or less. That’s one chook per square metre!
And just because they have a whole hectare, doesn’t mean that it’s the kind of ground you’d expect a chicken would like scratching or pecking at. Often large sheds will be surrounded by rocky ground, which means there is very little incentive to actually get out and flap around.
So what does that mean for farmers that are letting their hens roam freely day in and day out? We had to come up with a new term!
600 of our girls share one hectare, almost 17 times more space than the stocking density for ‘free-range eggs’. Our girls eat grain as well as lots of grass, bugs, worms, and anything else they find in the earth or in the trees where you’ll often find them roosting. The only time we lock them up is at night, to keep them safe from wild dogs and other predators!
Not only does it mean our girls are more ethically and sustainably looked after but it means our eggs are tastier and according to a study at Pennsylvania State University, healthier too! Researchers found that one pasture-raised egg contains twice as much omega-3 fat, three times more vitamin D, four times more vitamin E and seven times more beta-carotene than eggs from hens raised on traditional feed.
What better reasons to buy Mungalli pastured bio-eggs?