Why are Free Range Eggs Better?

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In the quest for eating healthy, free range eggs have made their presence felt in the market with their nutritious values as compared to its peers. Survey results point towards the fact that free range eggs in Melbourne enjoy unwavering popularity with a market share of nearly 47%, as far as retail sales of eggs are concerned. The staggering growth in sales of these eggs can be attributed to their health benefits.

Studies have confirmed that free range hens happen to produce healthier eggs as compared to their caged peers since the fat and cholesterol content is significantly less in these variants. Additionally, higher content of omega-3 fatty acids apart from the beta-carotene and Vitamin E, makes them the most sought-after option. The provision for the hens to graze freely in an open environment is said to have a positive effect on the nutrition quotient of the eggs.

What are Free Range Eggs?

Free range eggs, as the name suggests, are laid by hens who are able to graze freely in greener outdoor pastures. Concerned farms that happen to produce and supply the said variety of eggs, allow the hens to graze the greener pastures during the day. This is in stark contrast to the conventional breeding methodologies, which happen to employ intensive farming techniques where the hens are restricted to cages.

Different countries have their own specifications and standards as formulated by the concerned regulatory bodies as far as these free range eggs are concerned. For example, the Agricultural Marketing Services of the United States Department of Agriculture eggs that are laid by hens who can move freely both horizontally and vertically in indoor areas, can be labeled as free range eggs in the United States.

In contrast, the Australian Federal Legislation defines the term “Free Range” only to those hens who can roam around and search for edible provisions outdoors, for at least 8 hours during the day. Hence, the same protocols are applicable for the farms producing Free Range Eggs in Melbourne as well.

Benefits of Free Range Eggs

Benefits of Free Range Eggs:-

A wide range of benefits with respect to nutritional values happen to be the primary reason behind its exponential popularity. Here are some crucial factors that make these eggs stand out:

1. Higher Nutritional Value:

 Free range eggs score over their counterparts with respect to the protein content which is measured to be about 6 grams in a single egg.  Also, the Omega-3 fatty acid content of roughly 70 milligrams in a single egg coupled with higher level of lutein and zeaxanthin, does add to the cause as well. The presence of natural elements like Chlorine helps in improving nerve functions as well.

2. Vitamin Content:

Considered to be a gold mine as far as Vitamin content is concerned, these eggs fare way better than their contemporaries. Researchers believe that the Vitamin D content is almost six times higher than conventional eggs, which helps in strengthening the bones and teeth apart from improving immunity levels in the body.

3. Happy and Healthy:

Mental wellness can also be a crucial factor in improving the nutritional value of eggs. Several studies pointed towards the fact that a healthy diet and similar surroundings for hens facilitate the production of better eggs.

Several animal welfare associations who happen to work in the production facilities ensure the happiness index is at its stable best by issuing certifications confirming the same. For example, farms adhering to the welfare standards get a “Certified Humane” tag for free range eggs produced in and around the city of Melbourne.

4. Lower Cholesterol Content:

The cholesterol content in free range variants is said to be around 30% less than the caged or conventional ones available. Experts say that the free range ones contain 277 milligrams of cholesterol on average as compared to the conventional ones, which have around 423 milligrams.

5. Controlling the Calories:

As the calorie count in a single free range egg is said to be about 72, it can make its way onto the breakfast plate as a hearty portion without disturbing the personal diet meter.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Free Range Eggs:-

The nutritional value of these eggs is inherited to a great extent from the habits imbibed in the livestock at the barn. Access to outdoor facilities and the ability to roam around freely contributes to a positive mindset which eventually impacts the nutritional quotient. The freedom to practice its native instincts like nesting and foraging not only contributes to the strengthening of its bones but also the mental wellbeing as well.

However, on the flip side, exposure to natural environment might have a negative impact as far from the security point of view as the hens might be exposed to predating birds and animals like eagles and foxes. The provision for outdoor grazing tends to expose the hens to infighting and social stresses, apart from cannibalism as well. Also, chances of the livestock attracting bacterial pathogens, which can be fatal for human health, are also high.

Difference Between Cage Free and Free-Range Eggs:-

Cage Free Eggs, also known as barn-laid eggs, follows a specific hen housing practice in which the movement of the livestock is restricted within an enclosure or indoor barn environment. In contrast, free range eggs are produced from hens who happen to be free to roam around in natural surroundings and have the option to graze under the open sky. A sense of freedom happens to prevail in the free range hens which eventually enhances the nutritional value of eggs to a great extent.

Frequently Asked Questions:-

1.  Why are free range eggs better than caged eggs?

Free-range eggs have exposure to natural grazing which exposes them to grass seeds and insects additionally, as a part of their daily diet. Although both free range and caged eggs enjoy similar diet but the freedom to “spread its wings” and roam outdoors leave a positive impact as far as mental well-being is concerned, which contributes and enhances the nutritional value of the eggs.

Cage Free and Free-Range Eggs

2. Why are Free Range Eggs better for the environment?

Free range eggs minimize the use of chemicals and fuels derived from fossils, thereby reducing the carbon footprint, and contributing to environmental sustainability.  

3. Why are free range eggs more expensive?

The high overhead cost incurred in raising the hens renders the free range eggs to be more expensive than the caged or barn-raised variants.

4. Why are free range egg yolks more orange?

The high percentage of carotenoids like beta-carotene renders the egg yolks to be bright orange in colour as compared to the other variants. Additionally, the presence of natural pigments like xanthophyll also adds to the cause.

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