The cage-free section of the dairy department is growing…
The most obvious benefit of buying cage-free eggs is that you are supporting a more humane egg production system. The hens that produce these eggs won’t spend their entire lives in small cages stacked on top of more hens in more cages. It doesn’t require a compelling argument to understand that cage-free systems are more humane than the caged alternative, but less well known is what this system does for the eggs it produces.
For starters, the hens themselves are physically and mentally healthier in a cage-free environment. The hens in these systems often benefit from nesting boxes, perches, and loose sand or dirt on the ground. These “perks” to a cage-free life allow hens to engage in many of their natural behaviors that caged hens are denied.
The most common benefits include:
· Perching & Roosting
· Scratching & Foraging
· Engaging in Comfort Behavior
Each of these benefits contribute to a healthier mental state for the hens, meaning less stress and frustration. Caged hens don’t have enough space to spread their wings. This is one of many reasons that caged hens are more stressed than cage-free hens, and stressed hens divert energy away from their reproductive systems and use it to cope with that stress.
There is generally a perforated flooring that allows for waste to fall below into a pit, rather than staying on the ground. By removing the droppings from the floor where the hens spend much of their time, the risk of disease is reduced. Along with the waste that falls below goes the disease-producing organisms that exist in that waste, improving the health of the entire flock.
But what about the eggs? How does a cage-free egg production system improve the quality of the eggs it produces?
In the same way that the health of a pregnant human impacts the health of her child, healthier hens tend to produce healthier eggs. Some benefits of the eggs produced by healthier hens include:
· Less saturated fat
· Less cholesterol
· Higher levels of protein
· More Vitamin A & Vitamin E
· More omega-3s
Cage-free and free-range egg production systems aren’t without faults. There will always be room for improvement, but many companies are moving in the right direction. Most companies in food-related industries have committed to moving entirely to cage-free or free-range egg production systems within the next decade.
Whether you choose cage-free eggs for their health benefits, the health benefits for the hens, or both, you’re making a responsible choice. Suppliers will adjust to the demands of consumers, so supporting cage-free egg production systems is a great way to make positive change!
* BakedBones only uses organic, cage-free eggs in our bones