Free Range versus conventional eggs
Andy Lee & Pat Foreman (email@example.com)
Mon, 18 Oct 1999 21:15:19 -0400
> Can someone explain the compositional difference between true free-range
> chicken eggs and grocery store eggs? One can observe the greater intensity
> of the orange color, the better flavor and the much thicker shell in the
> free-range egg, but are they really more nutritious?
> I came across an article about some small scale farmers getting $2.00 per
> dozen for unfertilized free range, $4 for fertilized and $6 for green
> Araucana eggs. I know the $2 price is accurate, but the other two are a
> I have 35 free-range chickens and 11 ducks prowling 4 wooded/pastured acres,
> 2 of which are an enclosed rhea pen. (Why 35 chickens? I raise rheas which
> are very fragile as chicks and didn't expect the chickens all to live. They
> did. I also wanted to try pastured poultry but never got the pens built and
> then the kids became animal rights activists.)
> In the meantime, I have discovered the chickens keep the rhea pasture
> immaculate by scratching and probably finding food in the manure piles. I
> have two multi-acre rhea pens. The food consumption per pound of animal in
> the rhea/chicken pen is about 37% less than the pen with better grazing but
> just housing rheas and a guard (another topic-that title is disputable)
> Although conventional wisdom says we should not combine these avian species
> on the same farm, it appears to have a symbiotic effect. The rheas in the
> chicken/rhea pen have grown faster and neither chickens nor rheas have
> feather lice, which are considered ubiquitous in ratites. The noisy ducks
> seem to be serving as a predator alarm system because this is the first year
> I have had no loss to predators in that pen. Maybe we just got lucky, but
> so far this looks like it could be a good sustainable ag model.
> It didn't take much math to figure out that I could have healthier birds,
> cleaner pastures, and a source of income from eggs to pay for everyone's
> feed bill from the free-range chicken eggs.
> So, other than the knowledge that the eggs are from a natural clean
> environment and taste better, what other justification is there to support
> the price?
> Is there a market and price for edible duck eggs?
> Donna Fezler
> Jacksonville, IL
Donna, this is excellent information you are discovering with your
chicken/rhea multi-grazing experiment. As for price, I sell my eggs free
range eggs wholesale to the health food stores for $2 per dozen, and they
retail them for $2.39. This is lower than the "Horizon Organic Eggs" by
about 30-cents dozen. Even though we have roosters with our flocks, I didn't
think about the fertilized egg price being different until you posed the
question. There is some good information on the firstname.lastname@example.org
discussion group. If you pose your question there you will likely get the
hard data you are seeking.
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