When it comes to buying eggs, how do you know which brands are really ‘free range’? Sure, a lot of the products you see on supermarket shelves will carry the words, but are they worthy of the name?
The debate over what does or doesn’t constitute a free range egg is not going away and a recent CHOICE report listed the brands that do and do not meet the industry’s Model Code of Practice – the closest definition there currently is on determining what counts as free range.
Eggs are big business and there is still demand for caged hen eggs, largely driven by lower prices. A Canstar Blue survey found that 90% of consumers who buy caged eggs would switch to free range if they were cheaper. There’s the problem though, because free range eggs cost more to produce.
Fortunately 84% of consumers who buy free range are happy to pay more for them, with the vast majority of survey respondents admitting they simply don’t want to support the caged egg industry.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, let’s make your decision a little easier by listing the brands that meet the Model Code of Practice and have a good claim to calling themselves free range. The details below are taken from the website of the producer in question.
400 Acres is home to owner Elliot Fehring, his two dogs and a caravan full of chickens. The caravan, also known as ‘chicken express’ is a brightly painted henhouse which follows a herd of dairy cows. This prevents any strain on the environment and results in happy chooks with happy eggs.
Offering nutrient-dense eggs from Mount Barker, Adelaide Hills Pastured Eggs have been selling out every week. Their hens have 24-hour access to the pasture and are protected by Tom, their guard dog. There are 30 hens per hectare, to allow for optimum regeneration of pasture.
This family-owned chook farm has built a reputation in South Gippsland since 1933. Their farm is accredited by Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia. Providing a variety of different sized eggs, they specialise in providing restaurants and shops with high quality eggs.
Just 90 minutes out of the Melbourne CBD is Bass Coast farm, specialising in thoughtfully raised and pasture fed Angus beef and organic pastured free range eggs. Their 225 Isa Brown chooks scratch around in the paddocks after the cows, industriously cleaning and fertilising the environment.
Buckleberry Farm provides “fair dinkum free-range eggs” from the foot of the Otway Ranges, near Winchelsea. Stocking at 750 birds per hectare, Buckleberry Eggs sell the eggs of happy chooks at farmers’ markets and supermarkets alike all around Victoria.
Bullfrog Gully Farm is certified biodynamic, and located in Gormandale, Victoria. The eggs are laid by Isa Brown chickens, fed with Biodynamic grain and milk. The chooks are allowed to roam free by day, but are sheltered by night.
A second opening of the Gunning Bum Nuts franchise, the Bundy Bum Nuts are found further north, close to Bundaberg.
Lashbrook Farm was established in 2014 by Bryson and Anna Lashbrook as well as their three little helpers. The name Cackleberry came from 50s Australian slang, and 100 dozen eggs are produced every week. They come with the promise of no hormones and antibiotics, just pure, free range cackleberries.
Cackleberries Biodynamic Free Range Eggs – WA
These Cackleberries eggs from Boyup Brook have only 100 hens per hectare, and boast the qualities of being Organic, GM Free, Pesticide Free. Farmers Margaret and Edward state they are passionate about bio-dynamics, sustainable farming and of course, their free range eggs.
Eggs from this Gulgong farm are free from hormones, antibiotics, synthetic and chemical feed additives and pesticides. Occupying 300 acres, the eggs of these happy chooks are collected five times a day for optimum freshness, and are distributed at the local farmers market.
This farm not only has farm fresh free range eggs but also some innovative produce. Located in Coowonga, Coastal Harvest also produces aquaponically grown vegetables and fish. Having only started collecting eggs late last year, Coastal Harvest is a local operation, for the local community.
The Inwood family has owned the farm for many generations on the Darling Downs, producing their organic eggs as well as grain, beef cattle and Lucerne. The hens forage freely across the property by day and roosting in straw-filled nests, filling them with eggs to be hand collected.
This small family owned farm in south east Queensland has a major focus on sustainable, ethical and holistic farming practices. Echo Valley Farms have their chook stocking density at only 500 hens per hectare, and have friends for their chickens in their newborn Maremma puppies.
Started in 2008 in Forest Reefs, the Egganic name came from the way that owners Jacqui and Jim wanted to raise their chickens – free range and with an organic standard. Currently they have 3800 chickens on their property, with a stocking density of 300 hens per hectare.
This free-range egg farm is found in the Myrniong Hills, spread across 40 hectares for the hens to roam among. Focusing on animal welfare, there are no ranges and barns for these chickens, allowing them to express their natural behaviour to produce naturally delicious eggs.
Farmer Browns’ Happy Hens roam the pastures in Gillinghall. Each of the chooks has five hectares to its name, providing ample pasture to scratch around in. Maremma dogs guard them from predators, so the chickens are free to roam whenever they please.
A small chicken farm from just outside Bundaberg, Fig Tree Farm Eggs can be found at the Sunday Markets at Shalom College. These ethical, pasture-raised, open-range eggs are in high demand and “farm manager” maremma-collie cross George is there to help.
Fleurieu Free Range Eggs – SA
Owned by Richard and Terressa Langford, Fleurieu Free Range Eggs are located near Mount Compass. With a stocking density of 1200 chickens per hectare, these eggs have a low stocking density to ensure delicious eggs from happy hens.
Fraser Coast Organic Free range Eggs – QLD
Fraser Coast Free Range is home to 60,000 healthy hens by the seaside. More than 3600 dozen organic eggs a week are packaged by owners Max and Pam Alexander, and transported all across the country to happy customers.
Started by Farm Emma Brown and her girls, Glorious Googies came about from extensive research into the free range egg industry. Deciding they want to provide genuine free range, pasture fed, quality eggs became their passion. Now the gourmet Googies are sold all around Gippsland and Melbourne.
Greg’s Eggs come from a small family farm in Winnindoo, where the chickens have their own custom moving caravan which provides a place to roost as well as a clever way of fertilising pasture. Also present on the farm are a few protective alpacas to keep the chooks company.
Owned by the Robinsons family, Gunning Bum Nuts is a business that started with 50 chickens and has been growing ever since. The strong focus on bio-dynamic farming to restore, maintain and enhance the ecological harmony of the property.
Originally built in 1939, the Jarvis family farm established a small dairy, piggery and a collection of fruit trees. Today, they sell certified organic eggs, collected from their free ranging pastured chickens. Collected daily, the eggs from these chickens are free from any chemicals, and full of natural goodness.
Owned and operated by Sam and Prue Pincott, Holbrook Paddock Free Range Eggs come from their property “Bellvue” located near Holbrook. Providing their hens with a 100% open and natural paddock environment, the eggs have been voted the best in Australia – by their four daughters.
Hoods Earth Produce is a small farm in Keith, South Australia. It’s run by Sal, Bill and Bridget Hood, who believe in produce that is kind to your body and the environment. Their chickens graze on constantly rotating pasture, to create their eggs and homemade chicken broth.
Located near the Ellenborough Falls, the IldeWilde farm is home to chickens, goats and Maremma sheep dogs. The chickens are given free range from dawn to dusk, and drink from spring water. They believe in transparency, so interested parties are able to visit the farm to find out more.
Started by Josh Murray when he was only nine-years-old, Rainbow Eggs began from his entrepreneurial decision to be solely responsible for the family flock. Originally just sold at his local markets, Josh’s eggs are now sold all around Victoria.
The Fryar family’s farm on Kangaroo Island covers over 2000 hectares and boasts 50,000 hens. This results in over 25,000 free rang eggs collected daily. The hens are fed a natural diet supplemented by a mixture of grains, grown straight from their own farm.
Chickens from Katham Springs Bio-Dynamic Free Range get the star treatment, being flown all the way out to Kangaroo Island. Demeter certified, the family run farm is also home to a flock of Dorper Sheep and Beef Cattle, as well as their friendly Maremma sheep dogs.
Being one of the Katie Joy chooks means lots of roaming around the organic pastures of their home in Kojonup. Guarded by Maremma dogs Sally and Tigger, they’re safe to lay their free range eggs to be distributed around Perth.
Produced in the Mary Valley, eggs from Kenilworth are pasture fed and free to forage on fresh ground. The eggs are Humane Choice accredited, collected from their chicken caravans and transported fresh all over Queensland.
Owners Julie and Paul Koss were at a crossroads in life when they decided to become egg-farmers. Now with seven full-time employees, Kossies provide quality, free range, grain fed eggs to the Melbourne and Geelong region.
Originally an olive farm, Laterite Ridge is located on the western wheatbelt of WA. Pledging to have produce free of chemicals, Laterite Ridge has a variety of produce, such as pomegranates, pistachios, quail, and of course, free range eggs.
This family-run farm outside of Brookton places an emphasis on allowing animals to carry out the natural behaviour, 24 hours a day. With the chooks given an unlimited supply to fresh, local wholegrain freed, Little Creek farm pledges to maintain approach of quality over quantity.
Little Yarra Free Range eggs are a small acreage that has a focus on sustainable farming. The chickens roost inside a mobile caravan that is constantly moved to provide them with fresh pasture. The chooks are well protected by Sweep, their dog.
Priding themselves on ethical farming, Long Paddock Eggs have a stocking density of only 185 chooks per hectare. Advocates for true free range eggs, they endeavour to allow their chickens to live the way nature intended.
Macro Organic Free range Eggs – National
This nationally available brand of eggs produced by Woolworths is made up of many different suppliers. All the egg farmers under the brand need to comply with the Model Code for animal welfare, as well as meet organic standards.
Young entrepreneur Madelaine Scott started her egg business back in 2002, when she was only eight years old. Now she has 2000 NAASA Certified organic chickens raised on the Hollyburton farm from 24 hours old, free of antibiotics, fertilisers or pesticides on any of their pasture.
This award winning operation, owned by Ann McGrath and Nick Weber, is Canberra’s sole boutique egg producer, providing fresh biodynamic eggs to the community. If you’re passing by, free range eggs are available to pick up from the farm’s gate, using an honesty box system.
A small family business operating out of the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia, McGwerriton Organics is all about the welfare of their chickens, farm sustainability and the nutritional value of their eggs. Stocking at only 400 birds per hectare, the eggs from these happy hens are delivered as fresh as possible to ensure optimum nutrients.
The hens at McLean’s Run Farms are open range and spend a minimum of eight hours a day running around on the sustainable paddocks. At night they nest in cosy barns, safe from their natural predators. All this plus a nutritious diet offers delicious fresh eggs, straight from the farm.
Moore Brown Free Range Eggs – VIC
Operated by Dianne and Ron Moore, the Moore Brown Free Range Egg Farm in Gippsland has only 750 hens per hectare. The farm is part of the first in the Baw Baw Shire to have new environmentally friendly applications, with sustainable eggs delivered fresh around Victoria.
Straight from the heart of the darling downs, the Mountain Range line from Darling Downs Eggs are produced by farms that abide by the Model Code. The hens are free to range during the day, and protected with shedding at night, helping them to produce eggs which are freshly collected every day.
Mulloon Creek Natural farms have a vision of being a model of restorative natural agriculture. The farm produces eggs alongside beef, lamb and pork, all of which are organic, pasture raised and biodynamic. Endorsed by celebrity chef Pete Evans, these eggs have the nutritional seal of approval.
The Watson family own the Mungalli Creek Dairy with the belief that it is vital that food be produced as naturally as possible. In raising their eggs they specially source the feed and prepare it to make it as full of probiotics – nutrient rich for the chickens and you.
This family owned farm in Wasleys has been in business since 1959. The hens are free to roam the property 24 hours a day, resulting in delicious tasting eggs. The eggs are produced under sustainable conditions, using the minimum amount of nature’s resources, but still serving up maximum nutrition.
Situated in Roland, Tasmania, this small family owned farm aims to produce high quality and ethically produced eggs. The hens roam on lush, non-chemically fertilised pastures, and stock levels are kept to the minimum so they have plenty of room to lay their fresh eggs.
The laying hens on this family farm in the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands are free to roam the paddocks of the farm, and live in chicken caravans by night. These eggs are free of any artificial yolk colourants, as well as steroids and antibiotics, making them naturally delicious.
The hens on this farm are well cared for, fed only certified organic mix and able to access their pasture for at least eight hours a day. Eggs are collected periodically throughout the day to maintain maximum freshness from farm to table.
Owned by two generations of the Cripps Clark family, Organigrow Eggs are certified free range and organic, guaranteeing quality eggs. The Bonds Brown chooks have run of the farm, as well as eco shelters to roost in, resulting in high quality, nutritious eggs.
Eggs from Ovaston come certified by Biological Farmers of Australia, and are certified organic. Chemicals haven’t been used on the farm for the last ten years, meaning the chickens are raised on purely natural pasture. The resulting eggs are naturally nutritious and delicious.
Certified organic since the late 1990s, Payneham Vale Organics’ award winning operation is run by Ron and Sue. Their free range eggs are among a variety of produce from their farm, including meat, olive oil and veggies which they sell at farmers markets.
Peepers Cheepers Pastured Free Range Eggs – QLD, NSW
Packing around 3600 eggs a day, Peepers Cheepers from northern New South Wales is owned by Lisa and Mark Pieper. Grazing the birds at around 1500 hens per hectare, they get at least nine hours outside a day. These happy eggs are delivered to markets up and down the coast.
Pope’s Free Range Eggs – NSW
Owned by the Pope Family, Pope’s Free Range Eggs is located at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. Housed in state of the art sheds, the chickens are free to roam the property as they please, creating delicious free range eggs, to be delivered fresh around New South Wales.
Located in the hinterlands of Byron Bay, Possum Creek farms have a focus on true “open range” farming. This means making sure there is plenty of space and fresh pasture in order to make happy hens, and happy eggs.
Located in Daylesford, the Righetti family are fourth-generation farmers. Running a grazing business, the family always had chickens but have only begun farming them for eggs in recent years. The Isa Brown chickens symbiotically exist with the sheep, to provide their free range eggs.
Just a short drive from Glenn Ines, River Gum Eggs is an established free range egg farm, home to 32000 birds. The business supplies both local businesses and wholesalers alike with their animal-friendly products, making sure that everyone has a fresh supply of quality eggs.
Stocking at the maximum number of 1500 hens per hectare, this family owned property has been selling eggs since 1998. Producing roughly 38,000 eggs a day, life is blissful for the hens who tuck into grain grown from the farm. The conditions must be good, as it’s the only South Australian egg farm accredited by the RSPCA.
This family farm near Calliope took an interest in layer hens for their ability to fertilise and compost their environment, being a traditional cattle farm. Thus, Silver Dale Free Range Eggs was born, now accredited as one of three RSPCA approved farms in Australia.
Just outside Colo Vale, Southern Highland Organics produces certified organic eggs and avocados every day. Three years ago the owners trialled egg farming and realised they enjoyed it much more than cows, sheep and goats, providing free range eggs ever since.
Laid on farms with maximum density of 1500 hens per hectare, Sunny Queen Free Range hens sleep indoors at night to protect them from the elements. With eggs coming from a variety of different farms, Sunny Queen Eggs’s instantly recognisable smiling eggs can be found nationally.
The organic eggs from Sunny Queen farms are Australian Certified Organic, and the eggs have no added hormones. With the easily recongisable smiley faces, the cartons are biodegradable, making for a happy environment too.
Swampy’s Free Range Organic – VIC
Allan “Swampy” Marsh has a farm with 10,000 hens who roam freely, once protected by his dog, Oddball. Marsh and Oddball are both the subject of the recently released Oddball, about how Marsh trained his maremma sheep dog to protect a penguin sanctuary from fox attacks.
These eggs come from chickens from the Cuppacombalong homestead in Tharwa, and are raised open range with abundant pasture. While there are a variety of locations to purchase eggs, the produce is delivered fresh to the markets, on wooden bicycles, every weekend.
These eggs from Hazeldene come from a prestigious property, which was established in 1825. Owned and operated by Diego and Georgia, their chickens are pastured and free to roam the surrounds of the property, creating eggs that are used in restaurants all over Melbourne.
Started in 2009, Willow Zen farm is a 23 hectare property which is the home to over 3000 Isa Brown chickens. Owners Kelvin and Kumi have lived in Japan, China, Spain and Samoa before settling in Gippsland to raise their sons and their free range chooks.
Other brands which meet the Model Code of Practice
Alumuna Farm Free Range – VIC
Bracken View Free Range Eggs – National
Down on the Farm – VIC
Harvey Free Range Eggs – WA
Kalbarri Free Range Eggs – WA
Modra’s Kangaroo Island Free range Eggs – SA
Nature’s Free Range Eggs – National
Wild Hen Farm – VIC
Golden Yolk Eggs – VIC
Roseberry Creek Free Range Eggs – QLD
Vegetarian Free Range Eggs – NSW
If you think we’ve missed a name from this list, please let us know.