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Benefits of Free Range Chickens and Their Eggs

Updated on February 24, 2010

If you are aware of current food trends then I am sure you have heard the phrase "free range" when talking about chickens and their eggs. But what does it mean? Unfortunately in the case of eggs you buy from the grocery store not much. For a little background, let's talk about where the "regular" eggs come from and how those chickens were raised.

When most people think of chickens and eggs, they think of cute hens wandering around a farmyard pecking at the ground and periodically going into a nice coop to lay an egg in a bed of straw. Well, that isn't how it works when it comes to the eggs you buy from the grocery store. Hens are bred specifically for their egg laying capabilities. They are kept in very tiny cages stacked on top of each other in a warehouse of sorts. The cages are so small they can hardly turn around.

Chickens that are raised this way get no sunshine and never go outside. They are never let out of their cages. They are fed a specially mixed diet that the food companies say contains everything a chicken needs to survive (not thrive) - including a constant stream of antibiotics. They need the antibiotics to avoid getting sick in such a horrible environment. The worst part of all is that when the hen's egg production starts to diminish the chicken is then starved to produce one last spurt of egg laying before her death.

So now that we know how "regular" eggs are produced, let's talk about your typical free range chickens and their eggs. Usually when you see the words free range on the label, it just means that those chickens had access to the outdoors. It does not mean that they went outside. You have to be very careful when buying chicken and eggs to make sure you are getting what the label says.

Free range chickens and their eggs are much better nutritionally than the comparative regular chicken and eggs. Chickens that are truly free range will actually get to wander around outside and get to forage for some of their own foods. Chickens need more than just a cornmeal mash with antibiotics. They need to eat bugs and vegetable scraps and dig in the dirt to be able to provide us with the best eggs and meat.

There is a misconception that eggs are bad for you because they are high in cholesterol. From what I can tell, eggs and chicken raised in factories are not very good for you. In fact those types of eggs can be bad for you. Free range eggs however have incredible nutritional benefits. From what I have read much of the cholesterol in eggs is the good kind (HDL). You can also get many benefits from the egg whites without the added cholesterol because most of the cholesterol is found in the yolk of an egg.

Eggs contain all essential amino acids and lots of protein that our bodies need. But free range eggs provide more of these things, as well as plenty of Omega-3 that they get from the insects and green stuff they eat. Chickens and eggs raised in factories don't have the opportunity to eat insects and scraps that make the chicken and eggs so nutritious for us.

Chickens that are allowed plenty of open space and clean air to roam free and forage are much less likely to carry food borne illnesses, such as Campylobacter. To me there are many benefits to eating free range chickens and their eggs. It is better for the environment, it is healthier for the bird and in turn the bird provides humans with a healthier product. This seems like a win-win situation all around.

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    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Great information. My fiancé and I were debating on whether or not we wanted to raise chickens. After reading this there is no doubt we're going to raise our own and continue to pass on this information to our loved ones. Great article!

    • Cookinmom11 profile image

      Cookinmom11 5 years ago from Saint George, Georgia

      Wonderful article! :)

    • carolinemoon profile image

      carolinemoon 6 years ago

      Great article, I appreciate that.

    • mslizzee profile image

      elizabeth 6 years ago from Buncombe County, NC

      I always buy free range and the women at work think it is unsanitary and disease inclined. I think that is silly. Thank you for your article.

    • Palak Verma profile image

      Palak Verma 6 years ago from Sunnyvale

      Good hub. I will also try to switch to free range eggs and chicken now.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Outstanding information Jennifer. Thank you for sharing.

      K9

    • sgphilgoh profile image

      sgphilgoh 6 years ago from Singapore

      I had the good fortune of eating freshly laid eggs during my childhood. They certainly tasted better than those bought from supermarket. Eggs from free ranging chicken has the additional benefits of being more nutritious.

    • profile image

      kshanti 6 years ago

      I've had chickens now for 5 months and they are a part of the family. They roam in our back yard (40'x95')and are the happiest chickens I have ever seen. They greet me every morning and some have started to lay eggs daily. Eggs that are wholesome, healthy and beautiful. At this point 9 of the 12 allow me to pet them and pick them up at will. I truly enjoy caring for them

    • Rouens profile image

      Rouens 6 years ago

      Good Article!

    • nicelavz profile image

      nicelavz 6 years ago from Perth Australia

      Informative hub! We are raising chickens for our family needs but it will take months to raise it and it could not support daily needs so we are urge to buy in the market. We raise chicken for almost 8 months before we can finally eat it but those high-breed chickens will only take 45 days and it’s ready for eating I could not imagine how much chemicals are injected to it.

    • nicelavz profile image

      nicelavz 6 years ago from Perth Australia

      Informative hub! We are raising chickens for our family needs but it will take months to raise it and it could not support daily needs so we are urge to buy in the market. We raise chicken for almost 8 months before we can finally eat it but those high-breed chickens will only take 45 days and it’s ready for eating I could not imagine how much chemicals are injected to it.

    • Esori profile image

      Esori 6 years ago

      Yea Food, Inc! I saw that, horrifying yet very informative, like this blog.

      However, another important distinction I think is that between Free Range and Cage Free. If anyone's ever watched Food, Inc (I think it was this one) they did a spot on chicken who were raised in dark, crowded warehouses where they couldn't go outside and had no exposure to natural sunlight, or any light. However, these chickens were not in cages, they all stood on the crowded floor. Sure they might have been able to move a little more, but they are so overweight from building a bigger chicken that their legs can't support them and they can only move a few steps. However, they are Cage-Free. So be careful if you don't want to support this horrible business practice. I don't think these chickens were raised for egg production (where would the eggs go?) but I thought it should be mentioned.

    • profile image

      Thahira 7 years ago

      Absolutely FABULOUS!!!!!

      I'm doing a geography assessment and this information has helped me IMMENSLY...... You'll never understand. I'd recommend it to anyone. A huge thanks to the article writer.

    • Chapter profile image

      Chapter 7 years ago from Indonesia

      I had risen some free range chicken. The meat is good too. Unfortunately, avian flu attack my country so my country forbids to raise chicken in backyard.

    • hubmu profile image

      hubmu 7 years ago from BN

      good hub, i'm starting to like chicken

    • profile image

      Kathryn LJ 7 years ago

      Great hub! I too keep free range chickens and their eggs are the best I've ever tasted. Great little characters too. I intend to do a hub with lots of photo's to extole their virtues but the little blighters are a bit camera shy. I've got a bit attached and don't eat chicken any more but the plus' of keeping them far outway the minus.

    • kea profile image

      kea 7 years ago

      Thanks for the info...after watching Food, Inc., I've been afraid to eat almost anything! I prefer Free Range chicken - basically "natural" chickens!

    • profile image

      Fjola S 7 years ago

      It's important too, to define the difference between free range and free run - check out my own blog about this from a few weeks ago. It's great that this information is getting out there, we need to raise the standards for our small defenseless creatures!

      http://fjolaspraguecole.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/f...

    • profile image

      AARON99 7 years ago

      Must say an excellent hub. Keep it up.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I'm going to check for free range eggs in our local farmer's market this coming week. Thanks for this inspiring article.

    • askjanbrass profile image

      askjanbrass 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Animals that are grass-fed have more omega-3 fatty acids in their by-products (such as meat, eggs, etc.). Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy.

      Good post, thanks for sharing this information.

    • Jeff Berndt profile image

      Jeff Berndt 7 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      Good hub, and it raises an important issue. It'd be even more useful if you told people where they could find true free-range eggs. I'm lucky in that I know a fellow who raises chickens; I get most of my eggs from him. But when he has a shortfall and I need eggs, I can usually find them at my local farmers' market. Most counties in the US have one or more. You can find the one closest to you at http://www.localharvest.org/. Enter your zipcode in their search tool and you'll find the closest farmers' markets to you.

    • profile image

      Tony 7 years ago

      First time I heard of free range chickens, great info, I'll keep a better eye next time I'm grocery shopping.

    • sean.rutger profile image

      sean.rutger 7 years ago from USA

      I have a friend that raises his own free range chickens and I have to say there is a noticeable difference in the quality and taste of these versus store bought. Thanks for the great hub!

    • C_Pinto profile image

      C_Pinto 7 years ago from USA

      I love how you always inform people about the kind of things that really matter. Nutrition should be a bigger deal for all of us.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah

      My family just recently started an egg business. This is full of information. Thanks,

      In my wellness education, there seems too be only a few things that all agree on... one is stay away from white flour, white sugar, and eat free range eggs.

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      It makes sense. Trader Joes has some free range eggs pretty cheap.

    • Gazzz profile image

      Gazzz 7 years ago

      We keep free range chicken in our backyard where we have a large size paddock for them to run around and forage. The eggs that we get are simply amazing, the yolk golden and they tastes so much better. We love them softboiled or do a simple scrambled eggs. Have I mentioned that they look golden?? Hey thanks for writing this hub. Cheers.

    • SammieNZ profile image

      SammieNZ 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice Hub. We have free ranged chickens and they have a Luxury lifestyle. Our eggs are just amazing will never touch shop bought eggs again.

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 7 years ago from Texas

      Nice hub

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 7 years ago from United States

      I hear ya...I agree

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      I agree, I really do.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Excellent information. Thank you.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Great hub and I totally agree with you. It is disgusting just for the profit they get treated like and and us at the end.

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      So true! I am hoping for chickens this spring...I used to love looking for eggs when I was a kid.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      Egg-cellent, Jennifer! Simply egg-cellent!!!!

    • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

      Cedar Cove Farm 7 years ago from Southern Missouri

      Well said. I have more on this at my blog- www.cedarcovefarm.blogspot.com

      The health benefits are amazing.

    • liswilliams profile image

      liswilliams 7 years ago from South Africa

      agreed 100%!