Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between Free Run, Free Range & Organic?
Many people are confused about the difference between the types of “Cage Free” production methods. Rather than explain it, here’s a video that provides a good view of the housing, environmental, husbandry and food used in the different methods of rearing poultry and producing cage free eggs.

How do white eggs differ from brown eggs?  
White-shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and white ear lobes. Brown-shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. Brown egg layers usually are slightly larger and require more food.

Why are there differences in yolk colour?  
Yolk colour depends on the diet of the hen. Small and backyard flocks tend to have more yellow yolks (in summer) resulting from the chlorophyll in the green goodies the chickens eat, the fact of the matter is that today most “deep yellow” yolks in conventional and “non-certified free range eggs” are resulting from a red pigment (often synthetic chemical dye) that is placed in the feed formula by a food scientist on behalf of the grading company that specifies what deepness of yolk color they want to see in their eggs. Or rather the yolk color they want the consumer to see. The “yellow scale” they use is called the Roche Scale. A deep yellow yolk is about a 9 or 10 on the Roche Scale. How one can think all those chickens in cages get deep yellow yolks?

Customers rightfully perceive the yolk color as the basis for whether the yolk tastes good and is “rich”. The reality is that the yolk color does not affect the nutritional value of the egg or the taste. This has been proven scientifically and there are a number of supporting references on the internet. That being said, color and texture send a very important message to your brain as to whether you are enjoying your eating experience. Accordingly we understand and respect how important our yolk colors are to our customers.

We run multiple flocks of 2,000 to 5,000 hens we don’t always manage to maintain lush green foliage for them to range on – especially in fall, winter, and early spring. (Even though our space allocation standard is 1000 birds per range acre which greatly exceeds the new Canadian Organic Standards). The flock code on the eggs which the customer reported allowed us to test their yolk colors and they are indeed below our standard. In cases where yolk colors don’t meet consumer expectation we also use some organic natural pigments in our feed at certain times of the year. They are derived from organic paprika and marigolds but we have not included them recently. Additionally, our feed mix for the past few months has had a higher proportion of wheat than corn due to organic feed price levels. Our organic feed is all vegetarian and the main components are soy ( protein component) wheat and corn. Reduced corn in the diet will also reduce the yellowness of the yolk. Corn prices are coming down and we have just increased the corn content and lowered the wheat content. The feed mix change combined with the more abundant greens of summer range will deepen our yolk colors.

What are the string pieces in eggs?  
The rope-like strands of egg whites, called chalazae (Ka-Lay-Zee) are not the imperfections or beginning of embryos but a natural, edible part of the egg. They keep the yolk centered in the thick white.

Can I cook my eggs in a microwave?  
One can scramble, fry and poach eggs in the microwave. But one can’t cook an egg in its shell in the microwave as the steam builds up so rapidly that the egg can’t exhale it fast enough and may explode as a result.

How can I tell if an egg is fresh?
To check the freshness of an egg put the egg in a bowl of water. A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float.

How should I store my eggs?  
Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator in their carton and can keep for at least 5-6 weeks beyond the pack date. The eggs should not be taken out of carton because eggs can absorb refrigerator odours. Quality loss is insignificant if the eggs are refrigerated as soon as possible after being purchased from a refrigerated case.

Are fertile eggs more nutritious?  
Fertile eggs are not more nutritious than non-fertile eggs. They do not keep as well as non-fertile eggs and are more expensive to produce.

Are your eggs fertilized? 
We have a smaller flock of Heritage Hens with which we run roosters. Eggs from the Heritage flock are fertilized. Eggs from our larger production flocks are not fertilized.

Do you debeak your hens?
As a rule our farming practices do not include the debeaking our hens.

With all of our flocks we attempt to maintain a low stress, humane and calm environment which mitigates any need for debeaking. This includes good access to food, water and fresh air for all hens. From time to time stress symptoms will develop in a flock, but when this happens we try every measure possible to remedy the situation naturally.

In the rare case where stress symptoms are particularly bad, and our hens develop a persistent destructive behaviour, we may consider debeaking. Debeaking is only ever done as a last resort and with the consultation and approval of both our SPCA advisors and our organic certifier, and is carried out with great care. Ultimately we do not want our hens to suffer from self-inflicted behaviour.

If debeaking does take place, for the next flock in that same barn we would take preventive action, upon approval, and use a process called beak treatment. Beak treatment is a painless procedure done on chicks at one-day of age. It involves applying a laser to the tip of the beak which cauterizes the blood vessels and as a result the tip of the beak falls off in a few days. This method is deemed painless and is a preventative measure to allow us to manage and mitigate destructive behaviour from recurring in the next generation in case there is an environmental factor creating stress that is unseen to the human eye.

How can I tell if an egg is hardboiled?  
To check if an egg is raw or hard boiled spin the egg. As liquids have set into a solid, a hard-boiled egg will easily spin whereas the moving liquids in a raw egg will cause it to wobble. If it wobbles it’s raw; if it spins easily it’s hard boiled.

How should I store my eggs?  
Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator in their carton and can keep for at least 5-6 weeks beyond the pack date. The eggs should not be taken out of carton because eggs can absorb refrigerator odours. Quality loss is insignificant if the eggs are refrigerated as soon as possible after being purchased from a refrigerated case.

Is our livestock humanely treated after they are no longer productive?  
Many of our customers want to know if the livestock is humanely treated after they are no longer productive. As it is now, after our hens have completed their laying cycle, at about 74 weeks of age, they are humanely shipped for slaughter. As we are SPCA Certified as a humane farm and the certification also covers how we place and transport our livestock at the beginning and end of lay cycles. These standards include the method by which the hen is handled to avoid damage and stress. When they are slaughtered their meat and protein is used for animal feed and the other parts of their carcass is rendered into tallow. Tallow has many uses but the most common is actually the making of soap.While we would prefer to keep our hens for additional laying cycles, unfortunately we are not able to do so at a sustainable level at this time. After the hens finish laying they can be molted. Molting is a “rest and restoration” process under which the hens lose all their feathers in a cycle and then the feathers grow back. If done humanely, this cycle takes 12 to 14 weeks. The issue is feeding the hens during that time. Doing a trial molt is in fact on the plan book for Rabbit River Farms. Molting used to be done more commonly before the world became so focused on volume production and the economies of scale of feeding our growing population. Apart from all as a corporate responsibility towards society we are planning to start an ‘Adopt a Chicken Program’; the details of which we will update on our website.

What are Certified Organic Eggs?
Organic eggs represent a choice to farm in a way that places an emphasis on animal welfare, health, nutrition and the environment. Certified organic eggs are produced:

  • From cage free hens that are free to range, nest, roost, dust bathe and socialize.
  • In accordance with a written set of standards that are verified by a third party certifier.
  • From hens that are fed certified organic grains and oil meals that do not contain animal by products and are grown:
    • On certified organic land
    • Without synthetic pesticides
    • Without hormones or steroids
    • Without antibiotics or chemical medications
    • Without the use of any GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)
    • Without synthetic pigments
  • In an environment where animal welfare is a higher priority than producing the lowest cost product.
  • Hens live on free range, certified organic land with fresh, clean air where they are free to express their instinctive behaviour.

What are the nutritional values of eggs?
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, riboflavin, folic acid and all vitamins except vitamin C. Eggs are especially high in vitamin B12 and vitamin A. Eggs are one o the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Eggs are designated as a healthy choice by the Heart and Stroke foundation. See below table for benefits different nutrients present in eggs provide:

Nutrient Benefit
Iron Carries oxygen to the cells, helps prevent anaemia – the iron in eggs is easily absorbed by the body
Vitamin A Helps maintain healthy skin and eye tissue; assists in night vision
Vitamin D Strengthens bones and teeth; may help protect against certain cancers and auto-immune diseases.
Vitamin E An antioxidant that plays a role in maintaining good health and preventing disease
Vitamin B12 Helps protect against heart disease
Folate Helps produce and maintain new cells; helps prevent a type of anemia, helps protect against serious birth defects if taken prior to pregnancy and during the first 3 months of pregnancy
Protein Essential for building and repairing muscles, organs, skin, hair and other body tissues; needed to produce hormones, enzymes and antibodies; the protein in eggs is easily absorbed by the body
Selenium Works with vitamin E to act as an antioxidant to help prevent the breakdown of body tissues
Lutein and zeaxanthin Maintains good vision; may help reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration
Choline Plays a strong role in brain development and function
What’s the difference between Jumbo, X-Large, Large, Medium, Small and Peewee eggs?  
These are all different sizes of eggs depend upon the weight of the eggs. The following are the egg description with their weight:

Description Weight with shell Minimum Weight without shell
Jumbo 74 gram 65 gram
X-Large 65 gram 58 gram
Large 56 gram 53 gram
Medium 49 gram 46 gram
Small 45 gram 42 gram
Peewee Up to 44 gram Upto 41 gram
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