The quality of our eggs from either system is the same, if you took an egg from both of these systems you will not be able to taste or see which egg was free range or which came from colony cage system (apart from the code number printed on the shell).
If you like your eggs to come from hens which are free to roam outside then the free-range eggs are for you, our hens have access to a lovely south facing pasture in which they can range and explore we have planted a variety of native trees to provide the birds with natural shade in the summer months they also have a number of mobile shelters placed around the range. They have unlimited access to feed and clean water in the building which is well ventilated and temperature controlled. In 2018 we have also invested in the housing of the birds to give them a more stimulating environment all to give the birds a better life which in turn gives us top quality eggs.
Our colony system which was installed in 2012 meets the highest welfare standard which provides the birds with a much larger area than the old style battery cages (which were banned in the EU in 2012) each colony has 35m³ of space which includes a scratching area, perching and nesting areas, hens have access to as much food and water as they want, the system is temperature controlled and kept at a cosy 21° C, well ventilated and well lit. All these factors combined, give our hens the best possible conditions to produce quality eggs, also this clean and controlled environment greatly reduces the risks of disease and airborne viruses in the flocks. The hens in these systems will actually lay more eggs than birds in other production methods. This is one reason why these eggs are generally 20% cheaper than free range eggs. Other factors which influence this difference in price include birds needing more feed on free range systems in colder weather as they use more energy keeping warm, mortality over a 12-month laying period will be lower in the colony cages than on free range, no costs involved with maintaining the outdoor area or range and protecting the birds from predators such as foxes. There are lower biosecurity and veterinary costs involved with the colony cage system and fewer second-class eggs.