what pastured means

IMG_8382 IMG_8380cropped-eggmobile.pngA question we are often asked is what our “pastured eggs/chicken” means and how it differs from “free-range” labelling. It’s a confusing business. The words “free-range”, together with most egg carton and meat labels invoke images of lush, pristine, green grass pasture – ethical, wholesome, healthy… but the reality is sadly disappointing.

In typical big “free-range” egg operations, chickens are kept in the thousands in large sheds – they have just enough space to move their wings and can “access” through a door or “pothole” the outside world – which, if the chicken can physically get to the door, is unlikely to resemble green grass. The chickens often have their beaks clipped and their grain feed is cheap and genetically modified, possibly even imported. No wonder cartons of “free-range” eggs cost little more than cage eggs…

IMG_8373IMG_8378Our “pastured eggs” are quite different. They are produced by small batches of chickens that live on real grass pasture – in the open air, with space to move, peck, dust bathe and forage, they move to new fresh pasture on a weekly basis, they experience changing seasons, with freedom to lay where they please, a home free from chemical cleaners and bleach, a diet of garden scraps, insects and bugs, and grain feed that is wholegrain, not genetically modified and Australian-grown. In short, they are beyond free-range and free to express their chicken! These photos are genuine representations of our chickens.

As it stands, there is no legally enforceable definitions for egg production systems in Australia – other than the consumer’s rights to honest labelling – but if you don’t really know what a label means how can you demand transparency? We are advocates for “certify your own” – there is no better way to know how your food is grown and raised then when you are able to connect with the farmers and producers themselves. And the easiest way to do that is to find who your local producers are and support them.
IMG_8334You can buy our pastured raised eggs through Watts Fresh, KynetonHealth on High Street, Lancefield and at our regular farmers’ markets. You can also preorder our pastured meat birds through Watts’ or directly by email to handtoground@gmail.com.