Free Birds

| February/March 2006

free-range eggs, pastured poultry, cage-free hens


About 95 percent of the 300 million laying hens in the United States are confined to cages. Many of the birds don't even live with enough space to spread their wings, and are deprived of fresh air and exercise. More U.S. businesses are joining the Humane Society of the United States' campaign to discontinue the purchase of eggs from caged chickens, including: Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's, Bon Appetit Management Co., Earth Fare, Jimbo's?Naturally and Wild Oats Natural Marketplace. Several universities, including George Washington University, the University of Arizona and the University of Connecticut, also have stopped purchasing eggs laid by chickens confined in cages.

You can support this campaign for more humane treatment of poultry by choosing 'free-range' or 'cage-free' eggs at your grocery store. Even better are eggs from hens raised on pasture. These true free-range eggs often have the added bonus of being higher in nutrients and lower in cholesterol than eggs from caged birds.

For information about the health benefits of eggs from pastured poultry, visit The Chicken and Egg Page.

You'll also find lots of great advice about raising your own chicks at the Web site of poultry expert, Robert Plamondon.

billye nipper_1
4/28/2006 12:00:00 AM

My husband and I have 5 acres and plan to raise some chickens mainly for the eggs. I can't bear the thought of eating chicken or eggs produced by corporate farms because of the inhumane treatment of the chickens. I am sorry to say, or maybe proud to say, that I cannot nor will I kill a chicken and even though my husband was raised on a farm and has killed 100s of chickens to eat and to sell, I am reluctant to have him kill them. I guess this is a crazy question, but is there a "humane" way to kill a chicken? How do I rid myself of this anxiety?BillyeBlanchard, OK

david brewster
3/12/2006 12:00:00 AM

My reason for wanting free range chickens as my source of eggs has nothing to do with the treatment or handling of the birds, it has to do with what they are fed! I don't like eating chemicals!Most of you are aware that commercial chickens are fed an altered feed to "beef them up" as it were. Well, I am one of the professional drivers who used to bring the actual solution to the feed producers to manufacture to new feeds. Abbott Laboratories is one of the suppliers of a funky smelling light brown liquid called "LSS" (liquid steriodal solution). This nasty stuff is the by-product from producing female HGH (human growth hormone). It is also added to other livestock. Have you noticed that many young women develope very early and to extraordinary proportions? This is why.David BrewsterAvalon Beach, FL

heidi powers%20mason
2/28/2006 12:00:00 AM

I need some advice on Pekin ducks. I have one female, three males. After incubating 5 eggs, only one hatched?? I followed the incubator directions, all looked good, but nothing happened with 4 of the eggs. Heidi Mason - Dunnellon, FL.

darrell burton
2/21/2006 12:00:00 AM

Some people don't want to hear the truth about how their meat or vegetables get to their table. They turn a blind eye to the suffering caused by mass production. I raise free range chickens and sell the eggs in Piccadilly, Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. You wouldn't belive how many people don't buy my eggs because they think it's dirty for chickens to eat bugs, flies and good old grass and clover. Strang indeed.

george meek
2/21/2006 12:00:00 AM

With bird flue on the move around the world, where and how are domestic birds safer? Safer in coups or free range?

chris haywood
2/15/2006 12:00:00 AM

The problem exists that people are immune from where their meat and eggs actually come from. You go to the store and pick up any sort of meat not giving it any thought as to where it came from. Heck ask almost any child where meat comes from and they will tell you the grocery store. We bought a small farm 2 years ago and raise and slaughter all of our own meat including beef, chickens, lamb and hogs. We have chickens and ducks that lay eggs and ones that we butcher for meat. We raise these animals pretty much free range and sell our excess eggs at the local farmers market or to our neighbors. The duck eggs are especially desired by the bakers because of the dark yolk and richness of the eggs.I believe children need to be taught in school where these come from.Chris

belinda rogers
2/14/2006 12:00:00 AM

Dear Mother,I never really gave any thought to the kind of treatment chickens recieve until I started reading your magazine and a couple of other well known magazines. I think it's sad that most people,if asked, do not have a clue.I'm glad I've educated myself and several family members,friends and most have already made the switch to free-range eggs. Not only are the eggs more nutritious, but it feels good knowing that there's not a chicken stuffed in a tiny cage somewhere so that I can have my daily egg. Animal abuse is animal abuse. I was recently given a hen and my husband and I adore her and couldn't imagine her being confined in such horrendous living conditions. She is one lucky hen. I firmly believe that every animal deserves to be treated humanely, even ones being raised for food purposes. They deserve dignity until the end, as does any living creature. Thank you for continuing to educate us on such important topics.Belinda Rogers

erica vandenboogaard
2/14/2006 12:00:00 AM

What would be your solution be to raise these birds and keep up with the demand for the meat in the US?Are the farmers going to be given more money to build appropriate facilites? It is the general public and their demands that cause such things to occur. As well, have you been to all the farms and seen how they are doing things, or is this set up an example of the odd farmer?

dhijana scott-harmony
2/13/2006 12:00:00 AM

We now have a small (20) flock of chickens in our backyard right in the city of Charlotte, NC. There were a few hurdles to make it happen (like getting neighbors' OK for animal control permit, etc.)The daily chores of feeding, letting the girls in and out of their home and gathering delicious, wholesome eggs still warm for our meals plus some to share with friends (who pay for the girls'food and supplies) are surprisingly fun. The antics of our girls are hilarious; their stress management value is priceless.

krista hughes
2/13/2006 12:00:00 AM

Thanks for this wonderful article. Increasingly, consumers and businesses are choosing to buy cage-free eggs once they learn about the inherent cruelty of conventional egg production. If you’re interested in cage-free eggs you can find them in most grocery stores. Eggs from hens not confined in cages may be labeled cage-free, Certified Organic, Certified Humane, or free-range. In addition, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is happy to help those in the retail or restaurant businesses find supplies of cage-free eggs. Contact us at

kermit robertson
2/12/2006 12:00:00 AM

I would like more information on the coming requirment to tag and track all farm animals and how we as homesteaders can loby against this.Kermit Robertson

lee davis
2/12/2006 12:00:00 AM

My comment on Free Birds. "Balls"

alvin s
2/11/2006 12:00:00 AM

What you really want for great health are eggs from free range organic, pastures hens on high omega 3 diet from local source. Find local sustainable food products at Alvin S from Freeport MN into eggs since 1986

george meek
2/11/2006 12:00:00 AM

Very few of us have access to free range eggs. The public and commercial users of eggs use eggs on the market. Great! There is a need - it is filled in a free market. I don't agree with the free chickens, beef, pigs or other free market filling of needs!Do what you as an individual can, but the rest of the market place uses and supports free market sources.

samantha lea
2/11/2006 12:00:00 AM

I work in a kitchen and would like to purchase free range eggs. Do you have a list of companies that provide this in bulk?Thanks

reyna west
2/10/2006 12:00:00 AM

Question to "ree Birds".How can I find out what stores sell these eggs? These are the stores in my town, Safeway, Smiths,Super Wal-Mart, Bashas' and Albertson's. R.W.

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