Choice’s 2008 Shonky Awards – free range eggs a winner?

I am sitting in front of the TV with my lap top, watching channel 7’s ‘Sunrise’.  They just had a ‘Choice’ representative talking about the 2008 Shonky Awards.

 

The Australian Egg Corporation wins a Choice Shonky Award this year for their free-range egg standards. 

 

Choice says that the term ‘free-range’ has no legal definition in Australia and the vast majority of free-range eggs are certified by Australian Egg Corporation (the national industry body representing about 90% of producers).

 

Choice writes “it’s (Australian Egg Corporation) Egg Corp Assured scheme has a more relaxed definition of free-range than the voluntary standards, making it easier for members to use the free-range label and access the shopping dollar from concerned consumers.”

 

To give you an idea the Egg Corp Assured scheme allows 14 hens per square metre of shed area which is not much less than the 18 hens per square metre in a cage.  Also Egg Corp allows beak trimming and shed sizes on a scale that means many chooks will never find their way outdoors. 

 

Choice says “if you’re buying free-range eggs because you believe in animal welfare, the brands in the big supermarkets may not be meeting your expectations”.

 

After reading the choice report I will again look at the eggs I buy.  I will now buy eggs that:

 

  • Are certified by RSPCA

 

And Or:

 

  • Meet the voluntary standards such as ‘FREPAA’, ‘Free Range Egg’ and ‘Poultry Association of Australia’

 

I will no longer buy free-range eggs that have been certified by the Australian Egg Corporation’s Egg Corp Assured scheme. 

 

I will do some more research and write another post on what eggs I now have decided to buy.

 

** Note, I have updated information on this subject published in a more recent post.  Please chick on this to view new post.

 

 


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26 thoughts on “Choice’s 2008 Shonky Awards – free range eggs a winner?

  1. Hi Charlie, Thank you for your comment.

    The thing I find hard about trying to live a ‘greener’ and more caring life is sometimes I find myself being forced to choose the lesser of two bad options.

    For example your choice between buying feed close to home which is not organic but less travel emissions or buying further afar to get your organic feed.

    I believe however Charlie as our communities, countries and world become more green and caring, those options will and are becoming better.

    Can I say congratulations to you for being caring enough to know the options and for working out which is best for you, your hens and the world.

    I checked out your website – loved it! Your hens look happy. 🙂

    Really appreciate you poping by Charlie and leaving a comment.

    Sarhn

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  2. The other thing I must mention (sorry I didn’t post this all in one) is although
    organic farming is wonderful, many egg farmers cannot always source organic feed close by and nearly everyone in our area gets it all the way from Qld pre-made. There’s a guy here who sells it too but he gets it from Qld.adding to emissions footprint

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  3. What many people don’t realize is the rspca will not give their approval to any eggs unless the chicken’s beaks ARE trimmed! So I will never have their approval because I don’t trim beaks. I know why the rspca do this , it’s to avoid cannibalism on large commercial farms but what about the small commercial farms like ours?

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  4. Sounds like you all have put your heart and soul into this project. It is people like you that makes me proud to be an Australian!

    Here we have an Australian owned and made company that cares totally for the welfare of their hens. I would support you!

    Currently I buy our Kangaroo Island free range eggs at our local IGA store (Roseberry store).

    Also check out http://www.organicfoodmarkets.com.au/

    and

    http://www.buyorganic.com.au/blog/index.php/2006/11/farmers-markets-sydney-nsw/

    Keep in touch and let me know if you are supplying Sydney in the future as I would love to write a post about it.

    Cheers and I wish you all the success that your passion, hard work and commitment to the earth and animals deserves!

    Sarhn

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  5. Thanks for the comment- idyllic but really hard work. Simon works 14 hour days 7 days a week; in debt and yet to make any profit as yet, let alone pay Simon an income hence the need for my full time off farm income.

    Anyway, for the present time, we do not have enough eggs for the Sydney market as we are filling the local and Melbourne wholesale market production, but will be looking for a Sydney wholesaler in a month or so when our new chickens start to lay. Our usual wholesaler in Sydney (who buys our organic fruit) does not want to pay a reasonable price …so if anyone knows a good organic wholesaler in Sydney or who is the distributer/wholesaler for the King Island Free range eggs – this would be great to know !

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  6. Hi Cripps Clark Family,

    Your farm sounds wonderful! Yes since writing this email I have written another updated post on this subject. My conclusion in my recent post was that I was going to buy organic eggs. I will add a note on the above post with a link to my most recent post on this subject.

    Currently I buy Kangaroo Island Free Range Eggs.

    Can Sydney people buy your eggs anywhere?

    Thanks for popping by and leaving some great info.

    Wish all your family members all the best with your organice egg farm. 🙂

    Sarhn

    Sarhn

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  7. Interesting to read your blog which I came across as we are trying to put some more information on our web site about the difference between organic eggs and free range eggs. We, being the cripps clark family, are producing organic eggs on a wholesale basis from our farm just outside of Lismore NSW.

    One of the challenges we have is to educate people as to what organic eggs actually mean. We are asked if organic means free range (yes and more ‘free ‘ than so called ‘free range); Just check out the choice web site as to the difference in raising conditions for organic and ‘free range’ eggs.

    why organic eggs cost more than ‘free range’ ? Long answer – feed -give a chook crap cheap food in, full of chemicals and meat and you get crap eggs out. Organic feed costs two to three times the price of usual chook feed’ ‘. Organic chooks must allowed green peck ie, real greenery each and every day ie, under trees, shrubs etc – the ‘range ‘ in free range means a fenced yard which is usually dust and pecked out ground which the chooks are released to for an hour or so a day;

    the cost of raising organic chooks means much smaller shelters with a lot fewer chooks – which again, costs more.

    Of course, non-organic chickens are often fed chemicals in their feed to make the yolks a nice sick yellow instead of their true pale cream colour. Real green peck means an organic egg has naturally golden yolks.

    Organic chickens have no antibiotics fed or injected – no beak trimming or small cages – all of which increases costs.

    Anyway – the purpose of all this is to address your question- where can I find decent free range eggs- the answer is you can’t. Only organic eggs which are certified as complying with the requisite organic industry are truly free range, with happy chooks and chemical free.

    Any organic certified producer must go through yearly audits in which an on-site inspection takes place; one must show all inputs (records of feed etc) and the soil/eggs etc are tested – if for example, an audit finds an illegal input (such as non organic feed ) or chemical spraying – you lose your certification – bang ! A free range producer does’nt go through all this.

    One last answer to a question on your site – what happens to the older chooks (18 months old?) we have buyers who buy our older chooks (still laying perfectly well but not daily) who onsells them at local markets and stalls. The older chickens go to happy homes and we are happy that, unlike free range/normal egg producers, our chickens are not killed. We are morally opposed to killing a healthy chicken.

    We are lucky enough to live on a beautiful farm where we eat almost exclusively organic produce – our family is rarely sick – we and the childrens’ grandparents (in their 70’s) who live on the farm -often ride pushbikes about 10 km into town, go shopping etc. Our homes are built with minimal input and use minimal solar energy – we drink rainwater or spring water – we are truly blessed. If city folk (which we used to be in the dim dark ages) want to at least lessen their impact on mother earth – at least start by putting into your bodies clean and healthy food and eat organic.

    Here endeth the lesson.

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    • Cripps Clark family: Keep up the good work. Despite the long hours and little financial gain, you have given your children (and chickens!) the gift of health.
      I like your analogy (my shortened version) crap feed in, crap product out. It might be a no-brainer, but many people don’t think; their brains are full of chemicals!

      It starts with the soil and water. Chemicals go into the soil, plants, animals, waterways etc. The masses eat the food, drink the chlorinated, fluoridated water, breath the toxic air, whack chemicals onto their skin. It’s all good, because when they get sick they can just go to the doctor for some antibiotics and other drugs.
      And the chemical companies and tax man are laughing all the way to the bank!

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  8. Pingback: Choosing ‘Real’ Free Range Eggs « Greener Me

  9. Hi Jesse,

    That link is great. I actually did find that page when I was reading the report but didn’t scroll down far enough to see the table where it compares the different accreditations for free-range eggs.

    I did know that male chicks were gassed at a young age – I saw this for the first time watching Jamie Oliver’s TV show.

    Even though I have cut my meat eating intake by half I am not a vegetarian. Hence I do consume meat and hence understand animals have to die for me to do this.

    I do believe however that while the animals are alive that they have the right to live a decent life without pain and suffering. I also feel (though probably no one wants to think about this) when it comes time to have to kill the animals that they should be treated with respect and killed as humanely as possible.

    Therefore as having my own chickens is really not an option just yet (though Juliette I am keeping an open mind) I am determined to buy my eggs, diary and meat with the mindset of the best welfare of the animal.

    Jesse I really appreciate you leaving your comment as it is a timely reminder of the journey I am on and what I am trying to achieve.

    Thanks again for the link as I think it will be a huge help!

    Sarhn

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    • Great info Sarhn on what are true free range eggs. I agree with you that animals should live and die humanely. Whilst I have the greatest respect for vegans and vegetarians it should be noted that not everyone does well on the same diet. Dr Mercola has an article on his website (mercola.com) about different nutritional types where some people are designed to eat mainly meat, some carbs, some vegetables and some a balanced mix.
      Ideal organic or bio-dynamic farming will allow nature to interact and intertwine. For example animals or hens produce the best fertiliser for organic crops. The crops feed the animals (and humans). In a completely vegan world would there be enough animals to fertilise the crops? Green manure and worm castings certainly help but I don’t think their supply would meet demand. If any vegans read this, I would be really interested to know how the soil that grows your food is fertilised, especially if you are growing your own. I don’t have chooks or a worm farm but try to grow my own organic vegetables with much trial and error!

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      • Empowering Organics thank you for your thoughts. It is very interesting for me to revisit this post and ponder my words since I wrote them (over two years ago).

        I still 100% believe that animals that die so we shall live, deserve to be treated with respect – to live & die humanely.

        Two years on and I have discovered many more stories about treatment of animals that disturbs me.

        For example the recent breaking story of Bobby Calves in Australia and the possible new Australian law. To produce milk of course females continually need to give birth to calves. The male calves are considered ‘waste’ and have been killed early within it’s life (apparently for many years).

        Now the Australian Government is considering to pass a law stating it is ok to strave the male calves 48 hours before their death. The reason? Because farmers are a business and need to cut costs to remain profitable (there is a milk war going on currently in regards to the price of milk).

        How is starving the male calves for 48 hours before they die humane?

        For the record I do not blame the farmer but feel very sorry for them. I believe most Australian diary farmers care very much for their animals but they are in business and need to make a profit (just like myself as a photographer in a big city).

        Who do I blame them? Me, you, the consumer and our thirst (sorry about the pun) for ‘cheaper cheaper cheaper’. For a product to be cheaper and the business to remain profitable, something has to give. In this case the male calves starved will save feed and hence money.

        My response? I want to research more. I want to know if I buy Australian Diary Farmers milk will this help their profitablity and if so will this make a difference to the feeding of male Bobby Calves?

        If I find the answer is no I will probably stop buying and drinking milk. This will be yet another item in my diet taken out. It is interesting that I don’t want to go vegan or vegeterian but I am heading in that direction as the years go by.

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      • Cripps Clark family again. (see our post of 2008) We used to have our own Jersey cow for milk to our family (she was called Marley). You dont need to keep them pregnant. We kept Marley with her calf until he or she was about 2 or so. Initially. sharing the milk and as the calf got older – it suckled less and less. I doubt Organics dairy production condonea Bobby calves. With organics -animal welfare is very important – so whilst I dont know about organic dairy production – (being an organic egg producer) you should check it out. Now that we dont have own our cow (no time to milk) – Baramba produces wonderful milk, cheese etc. By the way, our chooks are still laying and we dont have enough eggs to sell-the chooks dont like to lay in this heat ! All eaters of organic should be aware thought that prices of all organic eggs and meats (and bread etc) will (if not already) rise – due to a shortage of organic grain. Cripps Clark family and organigrow.

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      • Hi cripps clark family – lovely to hear from you again.

        There is something special about this post ~ after two years we are still all chatting about it.

        I am so glad you shared your story about Marley your cow. Having always lived in the city, I am on a huge learning curve in regards to dairy cows. I will certainly check out organic diary providers like Baramba – thank you.

        Hope your chooks are a little happier now that the weather has cooled down this week.

        🙂

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  10. Choice have actually done a great job of clarifying the accreditation systems (see link below). Australian Certified Organic egg accreditation is by far the least cruel system.

    http://www.choice.com.au/viewArticleAsOnePage.aspx?id=106393

    Unfortunately, irrespective of the production method, male chicks are still gassed or ground up at hatcheries. And birds from all production systems are killed (usually under the same conditions) at around 18 months of age when they stop laying so frequently. Then their bodies are generally sold to make pet food or stock cubes.

    The best way to go to ensure the well-being of the chickens is to either adopt chickens (assuming you have the space and time to look after them), or simply don’t eggs.

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  11. Sarhn,

    If you do bring home some chickens could you please take a photo of your neighbour’s reaction and post it on your blog. I’m sorry, but the evil me would get a real chuckle out of it.

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  12. Hey Michael,

    How lovely to hear from you on my ‘green’ blog. Really impressed that you are passionate about living green.

    I am with you in regards to going without when I can’t find a products that meets my personal guidelines. I will let you know if in my reaserch I find eggs that are truely free-range (what the photographs on the egg boxes display as free-range!).

    Sarhn

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  13. Juliette thank you for your support.

    Our next door neighbour is a lovely elderly woman who said the day we brought home our two little puppies “I am going to kill you both”. It has taken almost a year to smooth things over with her.

    Imagine if we brought home four chickens – actually that would be worth doing just to see her face. 🙂

    Thank you – I am open to all ideas to live a greener life.

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  14. Hi Sarhn

    This is terrible! I have always purchased free range eggs thinking I was supporting farming with Hens that have a happy life and now I feel a little bit conned. What’s worse is that Ive been conned at the expense of some poor creatures welfare! From now on if I can’t be assured of true free range conditions, the eggs won’t make it to my shopping trolley.

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  15. Don’t give up too soon Sarhn – I had a friend at school whose mum had a couple of bantams in the backyard of a tiny terrace in inner Sydney. We’ve got four chooks in our suburban Sydney backyard (we did have six, but that’s another story). My parents have chooks and dogs who mostly co-exist. And nothing beats fresh home-grown eggs!

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  16. Hi Nevyn,

    Yes I too wish I could have chocks then I would know that they were well loved and happy. I follow your and Greening of Gavin’s chook journey and dream one day we can have our own chocks.

    For now, living in the inner city of Sydney it ain’t gonna happen. So I will keep researching the best free-range eggs to buy.

    Is it too much to ask for eggs that come from really happy chocks?

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  17. Hi Sarhn,

    I used to buy free range eggs a few years back. Like many others I thought I was doing the right thing. Then I heard a report saying that free range didn’t neccessarily mean ‘free’ and that these chickens suffered alot of injuries because of overcrowding. It made egg buying a bit of a mine field. Food coprporations definitely know how to take advantage of the labelling laws and people wanting to do the right thing. We’re very lucky that we can have our own homegrown eggs, not everyone is as fortunate.

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  18. You are so right Cabbage Heart. That’s what I love about the power of bloggers. It is mums and dads – the little guy having a voice and a voice that they can’t control.

    I have seen your name as comments on blogs that I read. I will check out your blog too.

    Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

    Sarhn

    Like

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