Part II of your Complete Guide to Eggs for Dogs and Cats…
In this Part of the Guide:
🥚 How Wholesome is That Egg for your Dog and Cat?
🥚 How to Select the Best Eggs for your Dog and Cat.
Eggs can be a wonderful wholesome food for dogs and cats. But not all eggs are equal.
Some eggs offer excellent whole food nutrition. Other eggs don’t make the grade but they do pull-in a big profit for the egg industry!
You’re about to find out how to maximize your purchasing power. For the health of your dog, cat and wallet!
So, How Wholesome is That Egg for your Dog and Cat?
That depends on the hen’s environment.
Let’s take a closer look…
An egg’s nutritional value depends on the egg type and method used to raise the hen.
Penn State University compared pastured hen and caged hen sourced-eggs. The difference was significant.
🐓 Pasture Sourced vs. Conventional Sourced Eggs
Pasture eggs contain two and a half times more omega-3 and two times more long-chain fatty acids. A healthy balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids with more than 65% omega-3.
Significant results. Excessive consumption of omega-6 promotes inflammation in the body. Pasture source eggs are anti-inflammatory.
Pasture eggs provide:
✔️ 38% higher concentration of vitamin A.
✔️ Two times more vitamin E.
✔️ More beta carotene.
The hen’s diet matters…
A chicken’s natural (species appropriate) diet consists of:
🐜 Self-foraged insects.
🐛 Grubs and earthworms.
🌿 Green plants.
✔️ This diet supports the hen’s gut health, reproductive health and immune system.
Conventional large scale farming operations (factory farm) hens don’t have a natural diet. Hens consume a genetically modified (GMO) corn and soy diet.
This non-species appropriate diet doesn’t support immune system health. On this diet the hen’s body becomes riddled with bad bacteria.
An egg must pass through the hen’s reproductive system. The egg collects bad bacteria as it passes through.
The egg industry’s focus is on profit, not the well-being of the hen or consumer.
High-volume egg laying is not natural nor sustainable. As a result hens experience a downturn in egg production. The egg industry responds by subjecting hens to forced-molting.
The goal of forced molting is to trigger higher quantity egg production.
Forced molting involves starving the hens of all food and water for 7 to 14 days. Starvation places enormous stress on the hens. The result; more damage to the hen’s fragile immune system. Increase incidence of disease and mortality.
🥚 Inhumane unnatural living conditions lead to harmful pecking behavior and cannibalism. Cage-free hens are even more prone to these destructive behaviors.
How to Select the Best Eggs for Your Dog and Cat
You need to know the difference between the various types of eggs and egg industry lingo:
- Conventional battery cage.
- Enriched colony.
- Nest Laid.
- Omega-3 enriched.
- Vitamin enhanced.
- Humane sourced.
That’s quite a list!
And a few more industry terms:
- Locally produced – it’s not what you think it is.
- Vegetarian fed – it’s not as good as it sounds.
Alright, here we go!
🥚 Conventional Battery Cage Sourced Eggs
These eggs come from hens raise in battery cages. A typical battery cage houses four to five hens in approximately 54 square inches. Hens consume corn and soy and live a miserable life. Battery cages are now banned in the European Union (EU). Battery cages are the primary means of housing egg-laying hens in North America. Simply shameful.
🥚 Enriched-Colony Cage Sourced Eggs
Hens live on 0.8 square feet; equal to living on less than a legal-size sheet of paper. See the American Human Society (HSUS) report on Enriched Colony Furnished Cages here. This category includes ‘nest laid’. You can read more about the reality of enriched colony life here. It’s a miserable life.
🥚 Cage-Free, Free-Run Sourced Eggs
Hens are not housed in cages. Hens live in a cage-free space. Cage-free as defined by the USDA; “a building, room or otherwise enclosed area.”
Hens do not have access to outdoor space.
The open space is tightly packed with hens.
“Open” space multi-tier shelves can constitute the entire living space. Shelves packed with hens. No room to move. No room to “free-run.” And let’s not forget weak bones resulting in broken bones.
If you want a quick look at what a cage-free life looks like you can watch a video here.
🥚 Cage-Free Organic, Free-run Sourced Eggs
Free-run organic eggs come from hens raised in a cage-free environment. Hens consume a diet of organic grains (rather than GMO grains).
🥚 Cage-Free Humanely Sourced Eggs
Barn-raised including multi-tier racked. These hens must have 1 square foot up to 1.8 square feet per hen. Standards depend on the animal certification program. You can read about various certification programs here. Some programs allow beak cutting and forced molt through starvation. Humane? No.
🥚 Omega-3 Eggs, Omega-3 Enriched Eggs
Omega-3 eggs are from GMO fed hens housed in battery cages. The hens’ diet includes supplementation of omega-3; non-organic flax seed; fish oil including fish oil from farmed fish, or algae. The supplemented diet results in an egg with more omega-3 compared to a conventional egg.
🥚 Vitamin Enhanced Sourced Eggs
Eggs are from GMO fed hens housed in battery cages. The hens’ diet includes extra supplementation. One or more of the following: alfalfa (GMO alfalfa permitted); algae, kelp or other sea plants; rice bran. Rice bran is a byproduct of cereal manufacturing. Non-organic rice often tests positive for high levels of inorganic arsenic. The supplemented diet results in an egg with more vitamin A, C, D and E compared to a conventional egg.
🥚 Free Roaming Sourced Eggs
The term “free-roaming” has no official designation. It is a meaningless term. A producer may choose to use the term to dupe the consumer into thinking she is purchasing a pastured hen egg.
🥚 Free-Range Sourced Eggs Factory Farm and Small Farm
Actual living circumstances can vary greatly depending on where the hens are raised (factory farm, small farm, etc.).
Hens live in a building or area with access to outdoors during egg-production cycle.
The “outdoor” space may be a fenced-in area, net-covered area or porch. The ground surface may be concrete or other hard flooring, or may have a little patch of grass. The outdoor space can be very small.
Certified USDA “free-range and humane” space requirement is two square feet per hen. Hens consume a diet of GMO corn and soy.
🥚 Free-Range Organic Sourced Eggs
Buy “certified” organic if you want free-range sourced eggs.
Hens live in the same conditions as conventional free-range hens. Organic free-range hens consume a diet of organic grains. Not a species appropriate diet.
🥚 Pastured Eggs
Hens have full access to pasture 12 months of the year and remain indoors only at night.
Seasonal pasture raised hens remain indoors when the temperature drops below freezing.
Pasturing allows hens to:
Consume a species appropriate diet.
Engage in natural activity including normal socialization.
🥚 Certified Humanely-Raised Pastured Eggs
These hens live on 2.5 acres per 1,000 hens (Certified Humane.org).
🥚 Pastured Organic Sourced Eggs
The USDA permits selling organic eggs without National Organic Program (NOP) certification. The egg producer must have an annual income of $5,000 of less.
Small organic operators should adhere to organic production and handling requirements. But it’s up to the consumer to ask questions to determine if the producer’s eggs are actually organic. Larger scale operations must be NOP certified to use the USDA NOP logo.
🥚 Local, Locally Produced Eggs
The USDA’s definition for “local” and “locally produced” eggs is as follows…
“Must originate from a source flock(s) located less than 400 miles from the processing facility or within the state in which the eggs originated from and were processed in.”
400 miles may be more expansive than your imagined vision of “local.”
🥚 Vegetarian Fed Sourced Eggs
USDA regulations state…
“Eggs must be sourced from flock(s) that have not been fed or watered with any animal by-products.”
Hens fed a diet of GMO corn and soy are certifiable vegetarian fed. Keep in mind a diet of grains is not a species appropriate diet nor healthy diet for a hen.
So that’s a brief break down of common terms used by the egg industry to market eggs to the consumer.
Now you have the power to make informed chooses to suit what’s best for you, not the egg industry!
And just in case you were wondering…
Egg shell Color – Does it Matter?
Egg shells come in a wide variety of colors. Shades of white, cream, pink, brown, green, blue and speckled variants.
Color of an egg shell is not an indicator of nutritive value, nor an indicator of how the egg will taste. Egg shell color is a result of the breed of hen.
Flavor of an Egg
The food consumed by the laying hen and the freshness of the egg determines egg taste. The best tasting eggs come from pastured hens!
Grade of Egg
The USDA (United states Department of Agriculture) assigns grade designations to eggs. Designations are “AA”, “A”, or “B”.
✅ Egg white is thick.
✅ Freshest eggs.
✅ Highest quality eggs.
☑️ Slightly less thick egg white.
☑️ Lower quality than “AA” eggs.
☑️ Not as fresh as “AA” eggs.
🍳 Preferred for scrambling and frying due to less thick egg white.
Grade “B” eggs typically have a less thick egg white.
👩🏼🍳 Used in baked goods.
⚠️ Used in processed foods.
⚠️ Animal feeds.
Size of Chicken Eggs
Egg marketing terms unscrambled!
Now you can maximize your purchasing power.
For the health of your dog, your cat and wallet!
Next up in this Complete Guide to Eggs for Dogs and Cats
🥚 Part I – Simply Good Eggs for Dogs and Cats
🥚 Part II – How Wholesome is That Egg for Your Dog, Cat?
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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld.