Monday, April 19, 2010

Food Labels Series

Part 3: Poultry and Egg Labeling


  • "Pastured" =
  1. I think that pastured is a new term used to try to get away from the other labels of "free-range" and "cage free" because these terms are used so loosely in large scale companies.
  2. Out in the pasture/field to scratch the ground and eat the grass and bugs.

  3. Laying hens are put in mobile egg laying coops that are rotated to different areas to get fresh grass.

  4. Eggs have more Vitamin A, E, Beta Carotene, Omega 3's and less cholesterol and saturated fat.
"Egg Mobile" from Richardson Farms near Austin


You may come to Richardson Farms to visit and select your meat or see us at the various Farmers Markets we attend weekly!

We currently attend the following Farmers Markets:

Wednesdays: Austin Farmer's Market - Triangle (4 - 8pm)

Saturdays: SFC's Farmers Market at Sunset Valley (9 - 1pm), and the Barton Creek Farmer's Market (9-1pm).


  • "Organic" =
  1. The hens or their feed cannot be treated with antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or herbicides.
  2. Cage free in a barn or a warehouse.
  3. Have to have access to the outdoors, but the USDA does not specify the quality or size of the outside range or the duration of time the are allowed to be outside.
*Hormones are not allowed in raising poultry or hogs, therefore when "hormone free" is put on the package it is just a way to make you think it is somehow a healthier choice.
  • "Free-Range" =
  1. Have to have access to the outdoors, but the USDA does not specify the quality or size of the outside range or the duration of time the are allowed to be outside.
  2. No regulations on environmental quality, the number of birds or how much space per bird.
  3. From what I have read most of these chickens are raised conventionally: cramped living spaces, fed industrial feed without live protein or grass and bred to grow bigger and faster which discourages them from moving around too much anyway.
  • "Cage-Free"=
  1. Conventionally raised except they are not put into cages, which is much better than a caged bird, but they still don't have access to the outdoors and are very crowded in most cases.
Cage Free Chickens
  • Conventional Chickens =
  1. Some of the most intensely confined animals in Ag.
  2. No access to the outdoors.
  3. Fed industrial feed.
  4. Bred to get bigger faster.
The next few paragraphs come from an article that I found. Sadly, I believe that most of what it claims is true. To read the rest of the article click here.

More than 90% of chickens and eggs are produced on factory farms in the USA. Chickens are either penned up in tiny cages, unable to move (this is common for egg-laying hens) or are placed in huge pens with thousands of other chickens. Regardless of their cage, factory-farmed chickens have little to no room to move, and dead and dying birds can be found throughout the pens or cages. The chickens also have to face intense heat.

Chickens are fed an unnatural diet that contains poultry and other animal products. Their feed contains bones, feathers, blood, offal, manure, grease, fishmeal, and diseased animal parts. Chicken feed contains things that have been banned for cows and humans, and include diseased rendered animals, roadkill and waste. Most producers of poultry feed, such as Perdue, refuse to reveal the composition of the feed.

Broiler chickens (common meat chickens) grow very quickly, thanks to advances in breeding. These chickens are no longer the natural birds we once chased after on family farms: they are hybrids made from various types of chickens genetically bread for fatter breasts and resistance to disease. While it used to take 90 days for a chicken to make its weight for slaughter, chickens of today are ready in a mere 35 days. Not only is the time to grow a chicken reduced by more than half, but the amount of food they require has also been lessened, thanks to genetic engineering. In the 1950Õs chickens were fed three pounds of grain, but now they need only 1.7 pounds of feed for every pound of meat! These changes produce overgrown, unhealthy chickens, as they are forced to put on too much body weight in too short of an amount of time for their skeleton to support the weight. Because the skeletal system grows at its natural pace, it becomes soft and malleable under the enormous pressure put on it by the chickens size.

3 comments:

amrust21 said...

CAGED HENS ARE HUMANE AND HERE'S WHY:
Cage-free and free range are exposed to many more potential problems than caged....for instance: in free-range they are open to predators such as hawks, foxes, etc., also open to the weather (blazing hot, freezing cold, rain, etc) so their mortality can be around 3 times higher than caged. While cage free are better than free range they still face issues such as disease and an unforgiving "pecking order." In caged the hens are kept separate from manure, if cage free they walk around in it, lay their eggs in it, and unfortunately eat it and can get coccidiosis which will basically make their insides bleed. So while caged limit their freedom, if the producer is UEP certified the birds are kept in a humane manner so that they can stand up, turn around, move freely and hav access to food and water 100% of the time and be closely monitored so that each bird can get adequate care. HSUS loves to say they can't stretch their wings....1) that is false if they are UEP certified 2) do we as humans stand around w/ our arms extended all day long? I think not so to act like we all (and chickens) need to stand around all day w/ their arms extended is just plain silly. Simply put mortality is 2 and 3 times higher in cage-free and free-range. Happy healthy chickens don't die!!!

Zachary Thiel said...

Well Amrust21, I like my chickens free! Good day.

Suzette said...

Gah lee, that article is so sad.
:( Thanks so much for this series Zach...it's appreciated.