According to the BC SPCA, more than two million hens lay 636 million eggs each year in this province. That’s a whole lot of eggs. That’s also a whole lot of hens – there are approximately 2.5 million people in Metro Vancouver. Where are all of these hens? According to the BC SPCA, 95% of them are on conventional egg laying farms where they live in small cages. It’s not a great life, even for a chicken, which is why the SPCA certifies eggs raised in better conditions. This Easter, you might want to consider making your celebration a little greener by looking for ethical eggs.
Ethical Easter Eggs
What should you look for when you’re shopping for Easter eggs? We try to de-mystify some of the labels.
Free run eggs come from chickens that are allowed to roam indoors, inside large barns. They typically are not allowed access to the outdoors, and they may or may not have litter for scratching and dust-bathing. There are also variations in how many hens are packed into a space, and whether those hens have appropriate access to food and water, and places to retreat from more aggressive hens.
Free range eggs come from hens that are allowed to roam both indoors and outside. They may or may not have adequate space, and they may or may not have nest boxes, perches or litter for scratching and dust-bathing. There are also variations in terms of whether hens have appropriate access to food and water, and places to retreat from more aggressive hens.
Unlike ‘free run’ and ‘free range’ labels, organic Easter eggs are certified by a third party. This means an independent person has verified the living conditions of the hens. Organic eggs come from free range hens fed organic feed. They also have the most humane living conditions, according to the Vancouver Humane Society. In BC, certification is conducted by the Certified Organic Association of BC, and they have some of the most stringent standards for egg-laying hens.
The BC SPCA certifies some eggs – including some white eggs perfect for Easter from Rabbit River – in order to guarantee that the hens are treated humanely. Like organic certification, an independent third-party verifies that the farms are living up to their commitments. The eggs can be either free range or free run, but they must offer sufficient space, good ventilation, perches, nest boxes and litter. The farms must also have a Veterinary Health Plan in place.
All Vegetable Grain Fed
Unlike the other labels, this one actually doesn’t mean anything. All chickens are fed all vegetable grain diets. Don’t be fooled!
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.