Your free-range eggs aren’t so free range – here’s what you need to know… 58



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When you go to the supermarket, which eggs do you choose? For a long time now we’ve been convinced by marketing teams all over Australia that all eggs are free-range, organic, certified and healthy. But that’s not exactly true, because when you look at it, free range is not all it seems to be.

The free-range egg business is booming. It has 39 per cent of the egg market in dollar terms, with free range having the most growth in the egg industry in 2011, according to Retail World Grocery Guide 2012. But there’s a problem with Australian eggs because there are so many standards and certifications and none are nationally recognised as being the precedent.

By RSPCA standards, free range eggs are classified as no more than seven birds per square metre of usable area for indoor floor systems, nine birds per square metre of usable area for indoor tiered systems and a maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare for outdoor areas.

But, this is different to other standards.

According to Free Range Egg and Poultry the standards are:

  • 10 birds per square metre up to 1000 birds
  • 09 birds per square metre up to 2000 birds
  • 08 birds per square metre up to 3000 birds
  • 07 birds per square metre up to 4000 birds
  • 06 birds per square metre over 4000 birds

Evidently, there’s a significant difference between the two standards.

Then the other issue is most egg brands have an incredibly blended range and they’ll push the certified free range eggs as their main brand, while selling cage eggs underneath for cheaper prices.

For example, one brand of Australian eggs is SunnyQueen and we took a look at the range of eggs they sell at Woolworths and the retail prices:

  • 12 x barn laid, cage free eggs (600g) – $4.99
  • 12 x cage eggs (600g) – $4.70
  • 12 x cage eggs, jumbo size (860g) – $5.30
  • 10 x organic, free range (550g) – $7.99
  • 12 x free range eggs (600g) – $6.10

There’s a massive difference in the pricing of these eggs and if you walk into the egg section of the supermarket, you’re likely to see a lot of branding around “free range” and “organic” so you’ll associate the brand with healthy and fair eggs but they won’t necessarily only be operating with free range, ethical practices. SunnyQueen typically is in the green and has appropriate labelling and certification for their products – you can read about them by clicking here. But no every brand is the same. Luckily, there is something that several brands are now doing to connect consumers with the farms and show them exactly what is going on and it is called ChookCam!

ChookCam is a live cam set up on the chook farms that allows you to watch exactly what the chooks are up to all day, every day!

To see the SunnyQueen chook tracker, click here.

To see the EcoEggs chook cam, click here.

So are your eggs really free range? There’s no way to know unless you research and look at everything – the price, the accreditations, the certifications and the chook cams.


Tell us, what eggs do you buy? Do you look for free range or is it too expensive? Have you used the chook tracker? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. Used to be easy in Qld when free range eggs label could only be for 1500 birds per hectare…. then LNP changed the laws that allowed Qld to be the same as southern states and now the label can be used for eggs coming from ‘free range’ birds at 10 000 per hectare – not much free ranging in that ratio!

  2. Just shows how “dopey” some city people are. No idea at all!!

    1 REPLY
    • Actually, it shows how dopey our governments are. You’d think it’d be easy to regulate and enforce something as simple as definition of free range/barn laid/cage eggs. To me the current shambles shows the industry is not interested in coming up to EU standards.
      I prefer the local producer I know. And Anne Power not everyone can keep chooks in their place for very legit reasons. Some yards are too small; there wouldn’t be too many landlords/-ladies who’d allow their tenants to keep chooks, particularly in the centre of town.

  3. Saw a really good program on so called Free range eggs ….could have been Landline and it is all pretty dicey. Free range to me is like our chooks were in the old days…free to roam.

    3 REPLY
    • It all comes down to economics Jannie Annie. If all eggs were produced on the free range model we used when we were kids, they would cost $20 a dozen. We can’t have it both ways. My main concern is the chooks are not kept in tiny cages.

    • free eange left chooks open to newcastle disease 100000 put down in nsw ..kind is not always kind to animals ..was given to them by wild birds

  4. I get these free roaming chickens eggs from my local markets and the same price as the supermarket anyway

  5. I always buy free range eggs, the best ones in our area, are from our local butcher. They are just delicious.

  6. Have my own chooks, they live a charmed life and reward us with beautiful large yellow yolked eggs – almost daily.

  7. What happened to a dozen eggs? Now in ten packs and the SAME price. Only way to be sure they are ‘free range’ is to have your own in a good sized yard.

  8. Get some chooks everyone!

    1 REPLY
    • I had some, and loved them, then we got a dog that is a killer of small and medium sized animals – can’t help it, it is in her genes. Even though they were separated by a fence to protect the chooks from foxes she managed to gradually loosen the bird wire and then…no more chooks.

  9. I only buy Frenz as the tv programme about free range indicated they were genuine free range.A lot of those that label barn laid or uncaged are actually battery farms in NZ.

  10. Sunny Queen have had chook cam for ages now. I often check in on the girls just to watch them for a while.

  11. The fraudulent super markets charge top prices for eggs labeled free range. The poor chook farmer is lucky to get $1 a dozen, even squeeze them lower, have them blackmailed as they are contracted to supply them & depend on the income, powerless or can’t sell them.

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