egg-cartonWhen you’re standing there in the egg isle of the supermarket trying to decide on what eggs you should buy it can be quite confusing. All the labels say different things, Free Range, Caged, Barn Laid, RSPCA Approved, Pastured, Organic, Certified Organic, but what do these all mean?

The classification and what is stated on the egg carton label refers to the way that the hens that lay the eggs are treated, how they live and/or what they are being fed. Below is a bit of a summary of the different egg classifications to help you make an informed choice when you purchase your eggs.

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caged chickens

Caged Chickens

Have you seen the new advertisements running on television and media outlets at the moment about our egg producing hens?  The “That Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” campaign, like many others that have been run, is aiming to raise awareness about the lives led by our egg producing hens here in Australia.

I am supportive of any campaign that might help put a stop to caged hens and I think this one is a really clever and engaging way to raise awareness. I enjoy the comical and yet still informative approach to the topic rather than the “shock value” approach with graphic and unpleasant (although truthful) images.  It still gets the message across to consumers and it is also nice to see a number of celebrities supporting the cause. The hope is that by supplying consumers with more facts about caged hens it will encourage them to re-consider the types of eggs they are purchasing and hopefully avoid the cage laid eggs.
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chickenSour Crop, what is Sour Crop you ask?  Well, I had to ask the same question this week when one of my chickens got sick so I thought I would share with you what I found out.

One of our chickens “Blondie” was perfectly fine one night and then the next morning she seemed a bit lethargic and depressed.  I gave her a quick check over and couldn’t find anything wrong with her so I put it down to the heat and hoped she would be better by the evening.  That night there was no improvement, in fact she actually seemed worse and I hadn’t seen her eat or drink all day.  So my husband gave her another check over and  discovered that her crop was very full and sounded fluidy.  So I did a bit of research and decided that it looked like she had sour crop or an impacted crop.  I spoke to our veterinarian who advised that we need to get the crop to drain.  So we turned Blondie head down, with her neck at about a 60 degree angle and after a few seconds a very sour smelling fluid started running out.  We tipped her back upright and let her have a breather for a few minutes.  We  then did it again while massaging her crop and out came more but it was thicker and more of a mushy pellet consistency.  After probably 5 seconds it stopped and we turned her upright and the crop was definitely drained and didn’t feel like there was anything left in there.  The terrible sour smelling fluid and mush confirmed that it was most likely sour crop she was suffering from.  After a little time passed we put her back in the coop, so she could sleep with her friends and feel safe.  I removed all feed and water overnight so that I could be sure that she didn’t eat early in the morning.

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Blondie, Nuggets & Lilly

Blondie, Nuggets & Lilly

Over the years we have had a few chickens at our place.  We have had all different breeds and ages, but always hens.  At the moment we have two lovely hens named “Blondie” and “Nuggets”.  These girls are brown or red laying hens, probably Isa Brown crosses, that we got from the local produce store when they were about four months of age.  Our chickens are very much a part of our family.  By day they just wander around the yard, pecking at the grass and walking through the horse paddocks.  They come running when they see us and follow us around, clucking and chirping all the time.  Our chickens are quite cheeky, if you leave a door open they will quickly inside and walk around from room to room checking out what is happening.  At night we simply lock them up in their little pen, which has an off the ground laying box, just so that they are warm and safe from any predators.  Our chooks are extremely quite, probably more so than the average chicken.  They are not at all scared of dogs, cats, horses or kids, which we think is fantastic.  Our chickens actually lie down next to our dog, walk over her and eat her food.  Not only are the adorable to watch, and great pets for kids they supply us with beautiful fresh eggs almost every day.

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It was nearly four years ago when an unlikely friendship developed here on our farm, between our dog Lilly, a Magpie and a Chicken.

One day my husband was out in the paddock when he found a
young Magpie that had fallen from its nest.  With no parents in sight and crows hanging around he decided it best to bring the Magpie home for me to look after.  The little fella was still young, he had some of his adult flight feathers but still couldn’t fly properly.  We decided to keep him in a box and feed him until Monday when I could get the vet to give him a check up.  After a vet check up established he just needed a little time to grow his feathers we continued feeding him and looking after him.  He lived in the house and on our deck in a cage most of the time unless we took him out with us for a walk around the stables.  Our dog Lilly became very fond of Buckley, as we affectionately named him.  They would spend a lot of time sitting together and he would chirp and sing to her while she looked at him rather intrigued as to what he was doing.

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