Did you know that for every human, there are nearly 3 chickens on earth! Numbering at nearly 19billion, they are bred to fill the insatiable appetite of human beings for eggs and chicken meat. But how are they really bred at such a massive scale?
Unfortunately, to achieve such scale, there are shortcuts that are taken. Chickens are bred in industrial cages, stuffed with thousands of other chickens to the extent where they can barely move. This, apart from being inhumane, also affects the health of the hens.
A secondary consequence of this method of chicken breeding is the risk of disease spreading. When the hens live in such close quarters, infections spread like wildfire. To avoid this, chickens are regularly fed antibiotics to help ward off the possibility of infections. Antibiotics are also used by some breeders to promote the growth of the chickens.
Pumping chickens with antibiotics makes bacteria drug-resistant. Studies have shown this to be a cause for the creation of what are called superbugs – antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could affect humans as well. Now honestly the jury is really divided on this one with some studies claiming this not to be the case but I would tend to err on the side of caution. Given that there are plenty of studies that outline the ill effects, it’s enough for me to start looking for alternatives.
Enter Nature’s Den Farms on Farmizen. The chickens are raised in open pens, free to roam about without being confined to their coops. They are also fed a healthy diet of things like Azolla that naturally promotes the production of eggs without the use of any chemical stimulants. At our recent visit to the farms, we got to see the free-range system first hand. They work one simple principle – “If the chickens are happy and healthy, then the eggs that they lay are tasty”.
The expression – what’s good for the gander is good for the goose seems appropriate here. By focussing on the health of the hens, the eggs that they produce are also going to be better for human health. We tend to lose sight of these seemingly simple logical cycle of food production in the time of mindless mass production.
So what is it that puts the free in Free Range Eggs? It is freedom – freedom to live naturally, freedom from being pumped with antibiotics and freedom to nest and lay eggs as nature intended them to.