Poultry farming has been notoriously difficult to perfect over the centuries, especially for those who want to conduct their business ethically, but if anyone can do it – it’s probably Harry Hodgson. Harry has a long history working with chickens on his family farm and when it came for him to take the reins he decided that the happiest chickens need to be raised without fertilisers or pesticides and in small groups.
Most people believe that free range chickens are raised more ethically – but shockingly this is often not the case! When chickens are left to roam “freely” in large numbers (up to 45,000 hens can be kept in the same spaces) disturbing “feather pecking” and other forms of cannibalistic behaviour can be observed, problems which aren’t present in cage-bound hens for obvious reasons. This prompts many free-range farmers to clip the beaks of their poultry to prevent this from happening. Harry Hodgson circumvents this cruel practice by keeping his hens in groups no larger than 600 – fulfilling his promise to raise his chickens in the healthiest and happiest way possible.
All organic eggs are free range – but not all free range eggs are organic! Free range describes nothing about what the animal is fed can still mean that the chickens eat feed stock grown with chemical fertilisers and on paddocks sprayed with pesticides – chemicals which could pass down the food chain into us if we’re not too careful! That’s why we stock Harry’s Eggs, certified Organic by the Soil Association and winner in the egg category at their Organic Food Awards.
The key difference between organic and non-organic is the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in the food supply, chemicals which could make their way into our system if we’re not careful! As well as protecting ourselves, the use of pesticides can often have an awful chilling effect on the surrounding wildlife. Organic farming is all about working with nature rather than against it – fertilising fields with a combination of manure and crop rotation; keeping pests away by encouraging the local wildlife to take care of them rather than relying on chemical pesticides.
These are all values which both we at Shipley Health Store and Harry Hodgson hold dear and we’re more than happy to stock his delicious and ethical eggs!