8 février 2024

Myths “Cracked” – Are Cage-Free Eggs Healthier for Me?

Santé et nutrition

MYTH: Cage-free eggs are healthier.

MYTH CRACKED: The truth is – all eggs are incredibly healthy – no matter which type of hen housing is used.

At Burnbrae Farms, we raise our hens in different types of housing to proudly offer consumers choice: enriched colony housing, free run (also known as cage-free), free range and conventional. Conventional hen housing is being phased out as of 2036 ;  but housing has little to do with the nutritional value of the egg.

I encourage you to learn about Burnbrae Farms housing types and commitment to hen care here .

There’s a common misperception that eggs from cage-free environments are healthier, and that hens raised in those environments are healthier too.

Neither is true. No matter which housing system we raise our hens in, every hen every day receives the best possible care guided by science-based standards and a spirit of continuous improvement. To alter the nutritional value of the eggs, we adjust the hens’ diets by adding such ingredients as flax seed, fish oil, extra vitamins or crushed marigold petals.

Let’s first talk about the differences in hen housing

At Burnbrae Farms all of our hens receive excellent care – frequent monitoring by trained caretakers and continuous access to fresh water, and all receive feed formulated by poultry nutritionists. Each member of our poultry team reviews our Animal Care Program annually. That’s our ethical obligation. And, ultimately, well-cared for, healthy hens produce healthy eggs.

In our free run (cage-free housing), hens can roam in open concept, climate-controlled barns that have room for short flights and are equipped with nests, perches and dust bathing areas. Flooring made of slats or concrete with bedding such as shavings enables the hens to dust bathe.

Free range housing offers all the amenities of free run with the additional option for the hens to go outside, weather and environmental conditions permitting.

Enriched colony housing is becoming favored by many egg farmers as it combines the best of free run and conventional. For example, enriched colony housing offers a more spacious alternative to conventional cages, but still reduces hen aggression and allows for ease of monitoring by caretakers. In enriched colony housing hens can indulge in their instinctive behaviours with a nesting area to lay their eggs, perches for roosting and a small scratch pad on which to forage. Compared to free run, enriched has a lower carbon footprint and provides a more affordable egg for Canadian families.

Housing hens in different environments allows us to provide consumers with choice when housing is a priority to consumers, but housing has little effect on the nutritional value of the egg.

The bottom line is that nutritional value of the egg is mostly affected by the diet fed to the hens and not by the housing system in which they live.

Eggs: All They’re Cracked Up To Be

As a sixth-generation Canadian family farmer, you’re probably not surprised to hear that I love eggs. I eat them every day. There’s nothing healthier for us to eat.

You can be assured that every egg coming from any of our farms is packed full of important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

With only 160 calories (give or take a few), 13 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat, two eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B2, B5, E and 65% of your recommended intake of Vitamin B12. Eggs have essential nutrients like lutein, choline and folic acid. They also contain important fatty acids, too, like omega 3. All of these nutrients are good for your brain, your eyes and your heart.

Myth busted:  There’s a common myth that brown eggs are healthier than white eggs. The fact is there’s no nutritional difference. What sets them apart? The breed of the bird. It just so happens that brown chickens lay brown shelled eggs and white chickens lay white shelled eggs in our hen houses.

Changing the nutritional value of eggs

While all eggs from our farms have an excellent nutritional profile, it can vary based on what we feed the hen. For example, to produce our Naturegg Omega 3 eggs, we add flax seed to the diets of the hens to increase the amount of omega 3s in the egg. The all-natural corn-soy diet including added flax was developed by animal nutrition scientists at the University of Guelph.

And the colour of the yolk? The yolk colour and nutrient content can change based on the feed eaten by the hen. For example, hens fed mainly corn-based diets (in the east) lay eggs with darker yolks than hens fed mainly wheat-based diets (in the west). Adding marigold petals to the diet of hens increases the yolk colour to a vibrant yellow-orange and improves the nutritional value because of the increase in antioxidants (lutein). Lutein helps prevent age-related macular degeneration thus, our Omega Plus eggs have additional lutein for eye health.

The moral of the story: eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, so eat up! Regardless of the housing type (and it is important to us to provide choice) eggs offer a convenient way to enhance your health!

I invite you to learn more about egg nutrition on our website .


Dr. Helen-Anne Hudson, MSc, PhD

Senior Advisor, Corporate Social Responsibility