A few months ago, the Victorian Government made it more difficult for consumers to know whether the eggs they were buying were really “free-range”. To our minds, "free-range" means that chooks should be able to freely roam pasture, with plenty of space to move, the ability to peck and scratch and dust-bath and behave the way that chooks do and always have. The CSIRO has a voluntary model code for free-range eggs – which is endorsed by animal welfare groups - recommending no more than 1,500 birds per hectare. The state government, however, in its recent decision, determined that “free-range” eggs could be those that came from farms with a stocking density of 10,000 chooks per hectare. That’s one chook per square metre. Or seven times the CSIRO’s voluntary standard. By the Victorian Government’s definition, the birds require adequate access to ventilation and light, but are not strictly required to have access to outside ranging. Confused about how this constitutes “free range”? So are we.
Since we opened Saint Monday, we’ve been pernickety about the eggs we purchase and serve to our customers. Like most people who have owned backyard chooks, we have seen, firsthand via our own lovely girls, how important it is for chickens to be able to live their lives like real chooks, rather than as cogs in an industrial machine. Fortunately for us, it has been easy to be picky – there are a plethora of local egg producers around us, who more than adhere to these CSIRO standards, and whose practices ensure their hens are happy and healthy. We have, since day one, purchased eggs from both Kay Panton at Dey Sorormin, whose girls are fed organic fed and are free to roam the pastures of the farm, located in Bruarong, as well as the awesome team of Erin and Bel at RAD Growers, located in Bungowannah.
Both Dey Sorormin and RAD produce seriously good eggs. Eggs that have perky yolks, whose colours change with the seasons and the range of feed available to the girls. Eggs that poach beautifully, and taste creamy and fresh. Eggs that are not just delicious, but also come with the added benefit of giving us “warm and fuzzy feelings” at knowing that we can support and promote the hard work of two local producers (and their beautiful chooks!), whose ethics and values are so central to the way they do business. And so, two weeks ago, we decided that we wanted to make sure other Yackandandah locals could buy these eggs for themselves. You can now buy RAD eggs by the dozen from Saint Monday!
We were super glad to have a chat to Erin, from RAD Growers, about her eggs, to learn more about the values behind them, the chickens’ “nomadic” lifestyles as true free-rangers, and to give you confidence that these are eggs produced according to extremely high standards and with the utmost transparency when it comes to animal welfare and ecological standards.
RAD eggs are in stock at Saint Monday right now - duck in (excuse the pun) and check 'em out for yourself! And also, don't forget to have a peek at the great work of RAD Growers online at www.radgrowers.com