Eggs are marketed in in a variety of ways today. We see terms like “cage-free,” “free range,” and “pasture raised.” But what do these terms really mean?
“Cage-free” means that hens don’t live in cages, however they may be housed in a barn or other like structure. To be certified humane only 1.5 cubic feet is necessary per bird. “Cage-free” is regulated by the USDA along with “free-range.”
“Free-range” requires that chickens have continuous access to the outdoors but does not guarantee that they have ever set a foot outdoors. There must be a minimum of 2 square feet of outdoor space per bird to be free range certified humane.
“Pasture raised” typically means that birds are let outside of the coop during the day, free to eat bugs and grass. Pasture raised requires at least 108 square feet each.
Another option is the backyard bird, a current trend even in Southwest Florida! The average bird will lay 4-7 eggs per week. Even the U.S. government sees the value in families providing their own breakfast! Not only do they lay eggs, but they are great composters, fun pets, and their eggs are more nutritious than many of the eggs available at the store. There are many resources available if you are interested in starting your own backyard chicken coop.
Got chickens, want chickens, or just want to talk chicken? Shannon Staub Library, in North Port, will be hosting a Backyard Chicken Club the second Tuesday of each month starting November 12, from 6 p.m. -7 p.m.
Search our catalog by the call number for chickens—636.5. There are a wide variety of books on keeping, raising, and breeding chickens in both our adult and juvenile sections.
Don’t forget LocalHarvest, available through the library, to see where small farms and farmers markets are located so you can buy fresh produce and other foods.
If you like digital resources, Hoopla is for you! Hoopla contains titles such as “The Backyard Chicken Book: A Beginner’s Guide,” and “Life Cycles: Chickens.”
The US Department of Agriculture has resources for Backyard chickens as well—specifically how to keep your chickens safe and healthy.
Sarasota Cluck is a group working in support of backyard hens in Sarasota.
Submitted by Erin Carter, Shannon Staub Librarian