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Currently, we have the visual record that the hens that produce eggs live in cages, sheds, crowded and under artificial light. In the best of cases, some have access to the outside, but in a controlled way.
But the original habitat of the hen is the forest. An Italian company took this concept for its production of organic eggs.
Today's roosters and hens are domestic descendants of theGallus gallus, an aggressive red rooster, from thepheasant family, which inhabited the forests of northern India and southern China. These animals began to be domesticated in Thailand before the7,500 BC and they reached the Mediterranean around 500 BC.
The way of raising them has changed over the centuries, up to the industrialized super poultry houses that we know today.
"Uovo di selva"
Little by little, the legislation of the European Union tries to improve the life in production of the hens, stipulating, for example, the minimum space necessary for them to develop, but this company goes beyond respectful breeding, it wants to return them to their original habitat: the forest.
How much Massimo Rapella, 48 years old from Uovo di Selva that the chickens quickly adapted to living in the forest, but what took them the most was getting used to the snow. They are free all the time without limits, but have a shelter available for the night, to protect themselves from predators and the winter cold.
Today Rapella's company, Uovo di Selva, has 2,100 hens, which live in semi-freedom - at night they are locked in the henhouse to avoid attack by predators–, on a two-hectare plot of chestnut forest.
1300 eggs per day
These free-range hens do not lay eggs every day like the hens found in industrial production, but Massimo manages to collect about 1,300 eggs per day that will be distributed among restaurants and families that consume organic eggs in the provinces of Sondrio and Milanese.
Chickens spend their days eating everything they find on the ground, just like their ancestors.
According to Rapella, the eggs are tastier than any other even than those of organic production. Tthey have more protein, because chickens also eat insects.
The results in the kitchen are excellent, a beaten egg reaches three times the volume of a conventional one. The egg yolk can even change with the seasons. In autumn, when chickens eat tannin-rich chestnuts that fall from the trees, they take on a darker color and a richer flavor.
This innovative production model is a success, but Massimo does not seek to expand production to other sites. He says his eggs are special. "It would never be the same anywhere else."
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