One of the ways I’ve become more connected to the food I consume is by purchasing pasture-raised eggs from nearby farms. There are numerous benefits to pasture-raised eggs, what is a pasture-raised egg we will discuss in this guide.
If you’re unfamiliar with pasture-raised eggs, you may be wondering what they are—or regarding the various pasture-raised egg brands found in grocery stores. Continue scrolling or use the table of contents to navigate to the section that most interests you.
What Are Pasture-Raised Eggs?
If eggs are designated as pasture-raised, they should have been laid by hens that spend their days outdoors foraging for insects and grasses, exercising, and having ample space to roam.
They will have access to a barn or chicken coop to seek protection from predators, deposit their eggs perch, and obtain supplemental food and water.
However, unlike the “free range” and “cage-free” labels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not monitor the “pasture-raised” brand. Therefore, “pasture-raised” is a marketing claim. Consequently, it is up to consumers to research and ensure that the eggs they purchase possess the qualities that matter to them.
What Is Pasture Rotation?
Many egg producers who sell eggs raised on pasture also rotate their fields.
Every few days or weeks, the chickens are moved to a different section of the pasture to prevent overgrazing and allow the vegetation to regrow. Without pasture rotation, You would reduce the fields to dust as chickens consume virtually everything!
Why I Prefer Pasture-Raised Eggs?
We favor pasture-raised eggs over free-range and cage-free eggs for several reasons:
1. Animal welfare – They are not confined like egg-laying machinery. They are free to roam outside and engage in their natural behaviors, such as taking dust showers, eating insects, exercising, and interacting with one another (hens are very social!).
2. Pasture-raised eggs are healthier – Eggs deposited by hens with access to the outdoors contain three times as much vitamin D3 as those without access to the outdoors. Compared to caged chickens, eggs created by pastured hens have more than twice as much omega-3 fatty acid and as much vitamin E.
3. Assist farmers who share my values – I find it rewarding to support farmers who share my values regarding the humane treatment of animals, nutritious food, and doing what is right. A farmer who chooses pasture-raised hens over cage-free or even free-range hens is engaging in additional labor and incurring additional costs in the name of their beliefs.
Types Of Pasture-Raised Eggs
“Pasture Raised” is a marketing term, and the eggs may not always resemble the illustration on the carton. As with most things in agriculture, there are both large-scale and small-scale pasture operations.
Determining where to purchase pasture-raised eggs is contingent upon understanding what is essential to you.
Truly Outdoors Pasture-Raised
These may be the eggs at your farmers market if you’re fortunate. A limited number of people care for several hundred or a thousand hens on the farms. It typically includes the cultivator and their immediate family.
Ideally, pastures aren’t treated with pesticides, and when they are not foraging on pasture, the hens are provided a soy-free organic diet.
In this form of truly outdoor operation, smaller flocks of hens are kept in mobile hen houses, and a section of pasture is fenced off around them with wire. It protects the hens from predators on the earth.
The hen house is on wheels and is moved around the pasture every week or every couple of weeks, along with the fencing, to provide the hens with access to new grass.
You consider truly outdoor farming combined with organic, soy-free feed to be the pinnacle of pasture farming.
The fact that the hens spend their days on open pasture makes eggs reared on pasture so nutritious and desirable. The poultry coops are not overcrowded, and there are numerous openings for the hens to exit quickly.
Managing hundreds of hens and multiple poultry coops is resource-intensive and difficult to scale. It requires additional land and labor. As a result, you will find it less frequently at large poultry farms that raise chickens on pasture.
Large-Scale Pasture-Raised Eggs
These plantations will have approximately 10,000 or more birds. They typically consist of a stable building surrounded by multiple sections of fenced-in pasture. According to the pasture rotation model, the barn’s doors should remain open all day, and the hens should have access to various fields over time.
According to my investigation, this is the type of setup used by the farms that supply the grocery store brands of pasture-raised eggs.
A mobile hen house is less likely to be present in an operation of this scale. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that some of the farms with which the significant brands partner employ it. Sadly, this information is not readily accessible.
Some chickens will choose to spend the entire day inside the barn rather than foraging in the pasture if they are housed in a single barn. Or, if the area is too congested, they may need help exiting.
If the poultry does not spend the day on pasture, pasture-raised eggs lose some nutritional value.
Organic vs. Non-Pasture-Raised Eggs
Some farmers sell organic eggs in addition to pasture-raised eggs. What distinguishes organic eggs from conventional eggs? Organic eggs are laid by hens fed only organic, non-GMO feed, whereas non-organic eggs are laid by hens fed non-organic feed.
Where To Buy Pasture-Raised Eggs?
Direct from farms: My favored location to purchase pasture-raised eggs is small farms at the farmer’s market.
Be aware, however, that the fact that eggs are sold at a farmer’s market does not imply that they are raised on pastures that are regularly rotated. Some eggs at the farmers market come from free-range hens (fixed fowl coop and limited outdoor space). Others may come from private chicken-rearing households.
Some farms sell their eggs produced on pasture directly to consumers who visit their farms.
Grocery Store: You can also find pasture-raised eggs in grocery stores, which we will discuss in greater detail below.
Online: You can also purchase pasture-raised eggs from the Hitzfield family, who developed their brand of pasture-raised eggs and sell them directly to you through Fresh Egg Co.
How To Save Money On Pasture-Raised Eggs?
You’ve likely observed that pasture-raised eggs are more expensive. You can see why when you consider the additional measures these producers take to sell pasture-raised eggs honestly.
Here are some money-saving strategies for pastured eggs:
1. Look for store-brand pasture-raised eggs
Trader Joe’s and Aldi are two grocery retailers that I am aware of that sell pasture-raised store-brand eggs. Unfortunately, you do not know who their supplier is, and the FDA does not monitor pasture-raised claims, so you must rely on trust. If you don’t mind the unknown, you can save a few bucks on a dozen eggs by purchasing store-brand pasture-raised eggs.
2. Buy pasture-raised eggs only when on sale
Watch for sales on your preferred pasture-raised egg brands to save a few dollars. Then, examine the expiration dates and purchase as much as you believe your family will consume during that period.
3. Buy eggs directly from a small farm
Depending on your location, another option is to purchase directly from the farm. Small family farms in rural areas sell eggs for $4 to $5 per dozen. I observe that prices are higher in urban locations.
Either from a local farm or a grocery store, pasture-raised eggs are an excellent alternative to conventional eggs. The eggs produced by poultry that spend their days outdoors are more nutrient-dense, and the pasture rotation model of agriculture benefits both the land and the animals.
As more consumers like you and I opt to purchase only pasture-raised eggs, the product’s demand will rise. You are moving the nation away from the inhumane egg industry, which includes confined and cage-free hens.
Thank you for reading….