I'm looking for some local eggs that are Animal Welfare Approved or with the same standard but not certified. Basically, this means that they are not kept in cages, their beaks are not cut, they are not forced to molt, they have continuous access to outdoors for foraging, and are not fed meat or animal by products.
I'm in Tempe. Anyone know where I can find such eggs?
Patricia - check out the localfirst listings for farmers markets and find one near you. Some of them are groups covering multiple FMs around the valley.
Thank you Catherine.
Patricia, in addition to farmers' markets, there are also many people who sell backyard chicken eggs from their home; often they advertise on Craigslist. Each person manages their bird differently, but whether you buy backyard eggs or farmers' market eggs, the sellers should be willing to let you see their birds and how they are raised. Ask to see the bags of feed they are given; some are fed organic feed, others standard layer feed. Most, if not all of these chickens will not have cut beaks or be forced to molt, and in many cases they are not given antibiotics unless needed.
A little info about common terms:
"Continuous access" should be "continual access," because chickens will be penned in at night to protect them from coyotes and other nocturnal and semi-nocturnal predators. "Access" does not always mean they get outdoors often. You've probably seen the pictures of huge barns holding hundreds of birds with one little door and a little outdoor run.
"Meat/animal byproduct" are those body parts that humans won't eat, however, that's defined by the culture. For example, tripe and chicken feet are byproducts in the conventional US diet, but in some cultures they are standard foods. I process many of my own meats, and some things, like skin, some organs, and scrap meat may be eaten by my birds. Technically those are meat by-products. However, they are handled differently than factory farmed by-products. So byproducts should be evaluated by what they are, where they came from, and how they are handled.
Another thing to consider is that chickens are not vegetarians; they are omnivores, and scavengers by nature. Usually their animal diet comes from bugs, larvae and worms (a pastured bird will eat a lot of these every day), but it may be from animals. Snakes and rodents aren't uncommon.
Free range means they are not caged, but that's all. They still may be in a barn.
A "run" means there's a space that the chickens can scratch and dust in. It doesn't take long for a flock to turn a grassy run into a dirt yard, so if you want your birds to have a varied diet of bugs and veggies, make certain they are pastured - they roam freely around lots of grass and other forage where there's a lot of meat and veggies. Another option is that they are fed garden scraps and maybe mealworms.
So, what I'm saying is that it's wonderful that you're watching carefully what you are buying, but be aware that there are concepts behind some terms that may not apply in all cases or may be manipulated. The best assurance you'll have is to visit the farm. :)