What Does Free Range Eggs Mean

Must Try

People Buy Certain Brands Of Eggs For A Variety Of Reasons Including Price Brand Loyalty Taste Quality And For Ethical Reasons

What is a free range egg farm?

Many people who buy eggs labelled as free range, believe the hens laying these eggs enjoy a better standard of life, and trust the free range label.

However, in some situations, these free range claims may be misleading.

There is currently no standard government definition of what free range means in terms of egg production in layer hens. Nor do the labelling requirements within the Food Standards Code address the type of production system where eggs are laid.

However, the New Zealand Fair Trading Act 1986 prohibits the use of any false, misleading or deceptive claims, or other representations. In addition, The Code of Welfare for Layer Hens, developed under the Animal Welfare Act sets minimum standards for the care and management of layer hens in cages, colony cages and barns – with or without access to an outdoor area.

Within the Code of Welfare, free range layer production is described as a barn with access to the outdoors. There are a number of Minimum Standards relating to the care of layer hens and what hens should have. However, just providing access to an outdoor area does not necessarily mean that the hens use the range well, or go outside as often as they could. Whether hens range outside depends on a number of factors, including the availability and type of shelter outside, a hens own innate fear of overhead predators, such as hawks , early outdoor experience, pop-hole availability, as well as season and weather conditions, amongst other factors.

Why Do Free Range Eggs Matter

It is so important to purchase and eat eggs that come from happy hens raised on farms that care for their hens and give them the lives all hens should live.

Picking up a dozen of Natures Yoke eggs, means doing your part to cultivate all the life love and latitude that surrounds ethically raised, free-range hens.

So the next time you eat one of our eggs, you are taking part in a legacy of small, ethical, family farms and the happiest hens youve ever seen. And that matters a lot!

What Are The Disadvantages Of Free

The ASPCA provides a chart for understanding chicken labels that you can use to compare the different marketing terms used in the egg and meat industries, including the more stringent Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Humane certifications. Compared to other certifications, free-range is a bottom-rung label only a step above the hollow term natural when it comes to telling you about how the chicken that youre about to eat was raised.

As the ASPCA chart reveals, free-range labeling fails to provide meaningful standards for on-farm welfare, the indoor space given to each bird, environmental enrichment, outdoor access, selective breeding for good chicken health, and use of natural light. The term free-range is also silent on how long you can transport chickens, use of antibiotics, and audits of farm facilities. Finally, when chicken has a free-range sticker, there is no guarantee that farms will have been in compliance with even the one standard required, that of outdoor access.

Read Also: How Many Grams Of Protein Are In Eggs

What Does Free Range Eggs Mean

At Buffalo Market, were invested in building relationships with local farmer and producers, and in thinking that theres a better way to do food. We focus on organic and heritage where possible, bringing you only the best. Yet with some products, whats best, or even what organic means, is often not clear eggs are one example. Wander down the supermarket aisle, and youll encounter a huge range of descriptors and quantifiers applied to eggs, and the hens they came from. And, crucially, not all are what they seem. Heres what to look out for, and what free range really means.

Cage Free

A term regulated by the USDA, cage free is self-explanatory it means eggs from hens that are not confined to a cage. They can freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle, but not have access to the outdoors. Ts certainly an improvement on battery farming, but there are downsides too air quality can be lower in such facilities, and the hens welfare is not as prioritised as it could be.


Be wary of eggs that are branded simply organic. Legally, the only stipulation is that they must come from hens that are fed an organic diet, with things like the amount of space per hen and access to the outdoors are neither specified or required. Many organic eggs are also at least free-range, although do check the label unscrupulous producers often try to take advantage of customer trust in the term.

Good Questions To Ask

  • What is the stocking density on the farm?
  • What kind of conditions do the hens live in?
  • How many hens are there per square metre outside?
  • What access do the hens have to the outdoors?
  • What type of shelter do the hens have outside on the range?
  • Are the farms regularly audited?
  • Who conducts the audits?

Recommended Reading: Difference Between White Eggs And Brown Eggs

See Inside A Real Free Range Egg Farm

After researching egg farming in Australia, you may like to see a farm for yourself. Australian Eggs invites you to take a virtual tour of a free range egg farm below. In this 360º video, you can click, drag and move your phone to look around different parts of the free range facility.

Looking for more? Take a full virtual tour of . In the 360º tour you can go inside a shed, compare barn-laid, free range and cage, and see the quality control that goes into egg collection, washing, grading and packing.

Summary Of Legal Requirements

All eggs offered for sale from free-range egg units must conform to the standards for eggs in general.

Additionally, eggs offered for sale in small packs bearing the words free-range eggs must be produced in poultry enterprises where:

  • hens have continuous daytime access to open-air runs
  • the ground to which hens have access is mainly covered with vegetation
  • the maximum stocking density is not greater than 1,000 hens per hectare of ground available to the hens.
  • Head Office: Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, R93 XE12
  • Tel: +353 59 917 0200

Don’t Miss: What Age Should I Freeze My Eggs

What Does Free Range Mean What Are The Advantages

If someone asks you, what does free range mean and why is it important to know?, below are some advantages of buying free range eggs that should be general knowledge.

  • As mentioned before the hens have access to an outdoor range and the ability to roam freely. Due to them having more movement it results in them having better bone strength.
  • There is the opportunity for the hens to interact socially as they are not in an incredibly large group.
  • The hens can practice a range of natural behaviours such as nesting, foraging, perching and dust bathing.

It is important to educate yourself to know exactly what does free range mean and are they true free range. Now more than ever its important for restaurant and café owners to shop with locally owned businesses. You can start with supporting your own independent egg wholesaler.

Here at Chef Direct we offer high quality, wholesale free range chicken eggs that are delivered on time every time. There are so many benefits to choosing a fresh egg supplier. Chef Direct are trustworthy, simple to use and specialise in sourcing top-quality free range chicken eggs from local farms in QLD or NSW that follows the CSIRO Model Code of Practice.

Is The Claim Verified

How to Buy Free-Range Eggs


Eggs. Labels on egg cartons are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and do not need prior approval by the agency. The FDA requires that food labels be truthful and not misleading, but the FDA has no regulatory definition of free range on egg carton labels.

Egg producers can choose to have their eggs graded, or inspected for quality by USDA inspectors. Eggs that have been graded by the USDA are labeled with the Grade AA or Grade A shield on the carton. When grading eggs, the USDA also verifies labeling claims such as free range. The USDAs definition of free range for eggs is that they are produced by hens housed in a building, room, or area that allows for continuous access to the outdoors during their laying cycle. The outdoor area may be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material. The definition does not determine a minimum area to ensure that all hens can move freely in the outdoor space, nor does it specify the type of ground cover to ensure that hens are able to forage on vegetated soil and engage in natural behaviors outdoors. A small, entirely enclosed area with a concrete floor, accessible to only a small percentage of the hens in the house, would meet the definition without meeting the birds need to express natural behaviors.

Recommended Reading: 2 Hard Boiled Egg Calories

What Should I Buy

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, eggs, chicken, and turkey for Thanksgiving dinners are in high demand. Prioritize animal welfare for your holiday meals and desserts with these welfare-friendly choices.

  • Vegetarian or vegan

There are many vegetarian and vegan options that can make delicious Thanksgiving dishes. Look for them in your grocery store the next time you are shopping.

  • Animal welfare certification

For those planning on serving meat or using eggs, show your guests you care by purchasing an animal welfare certified product. The certifications we recommend are Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership and Organic. With these programs, an auditor visits the farms to ensure the standards are being met.

  • Free run and free range

If certified products are not available, look for free run, or even better, free range eggs for all your baking needs! When buying chicken and turkey, dont be fooled by the free run label! Look for free range instead for those added welfare benefits.

For more information, weve put together a more comprehensive guide to help you demystify other food labels. For any questions, feel free to .

The Best Case Scenario

Perhaps the eggs labeled “cage-free” also have “free-range” on them and come from hens that were allowed outside more or less at will, at least during the day. They may even have had green pasture to explore, allowing them to exhibit the natural behavior of hunting-and-pecking for seeds and insects that grow in the grass.

Don’t Miss: House Smells Like Rotten Eggs

How To Buy Eggs: What Do Organic Cage

Buying a simple carton of eggs, like a lot of things in life, has gotten more complicated. Here’s how to understand what all those words on the carton mean so you can decide which matter.

Organic: Organic eggs are certified to have been laid by cage-free or free-range hens raised on organic feed and with access to the outdoors. However, a recent report by the Cornucopia Institute indicates that many larger producers don’t always comply with these requirements for organic eggs . Most small-scale farmers were found to be in compliance.

Cage-free: Means the hens can roam in a building, room or open area instead of a battery cage, a 16×20-inch cage that houses up to 11 birds. It does not necessarily mean that hens have access to the outdoors. Nor does it indicate how much room they have to move around.

Free-range: Eggs labeled free-range were laid by hens that have access to the outdoors. This can simply mean the hens have an indoor space connected to an outdoor areanot that they are roaming around “free.” In addition to eating grain these hens may forage for wild plants and insects.

See More:Healthy Egg Dish for Dinners

Egg color: Determined by the breed of hen. They can be pretty, but there is no inherent nutritional or taste difference.

Size: Refers to the weight of whole eggs per dozen.

Hormone-free: This label is on many cartons, but no laying hens are given hormones.

See More:22 Egg Recipes to Make For Dinner Tonight in 20 Minutes

Usda Standards For Organic Eggs


To qualify as organic, eggs must come from chickens that are fed only organic feed . No genetically modified foods can be used. Additionally, organic eggs must come from chickens that are given antibiotics only in the event of an infectioncommercial chickens, on the other hand, are given antibiotics on a routine basis. No hormones or other drugs can be used in organic egg production.

Moltingwhen birds shed their older feathers to make room for new onesis sometimes induced in commercial egg and chicken production by withholding food, water, or by other means. Molting extends the productive life of laying chickens, but it cannot be induced in chickens laying organic eggs only natural molting is allowed to occur.

Organic eggs must come from chickens that live in cage-free environments and have access to the outdoors, even if their outdoor area is just a small pen or enclosed yard area. Pens are used to protect the chickens and their eggs from predators like hawks, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, and other animals.

Also Check: Hard Boiled Eggs In Airfryer

What About Organic Eggs

The USDA provides specific standards governing the treatment of birds used for organic egg production. These standards include guidelines pertaining to the feed that the birds receive, their housing, and a prohibition on steroids and unnecessary medications. Hens raised to produce organic eggs must be provided with regular access to the outdoors, with exceptions for special circumstances.

Free Range: If No Broiler Chickens Are Raised In Cages What Does The Term Free Range Mean

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , free range means that chickens have access to the outdoors for at least some part of the day, whether the chickens choose to go outside or not. There are no requirements for length of time the chicken must spend outdoors, the size of the outdoor area or the type of groundcover. Less than 1% of chickens nationwide are raised as free range, according to the National Chicken Council.

Recommended Reading: How Much Can I Sell My Eggs For In California

What Does Free Range Mean

The term free range is federally regulated, but due to the USDAs lack of detailed guidelines, third party certifiers are the gold standard when it comes to free range eggs. Without a strong third party certifier to back free range claims, these hens can be confined to screened-in porches or cement and still be considered free range. All Pete and Gerrys partner farmers follow the Humane Farm Animal Care Certified Humane Free Range standards, which are arguably the highest and most transparent of their kind. On our farms, being free range means that during most times of the day and year , our hens are free to roam outside as they please. Our free range hens have a minimum of 2 square feet per hen of pasture, and thats an average for every hen in the flock. It’s very rare for the entire flock to choose to be outside at any one time during the day most of them prefer the shade, water, feed, or social opportunities inside the barn, so the girls that feel like venturing out usually have a vast expanse of a field all to themselves to explore. When you pick up a carton of Pete and Gerrys Organic Eggs, know that the hens that laid them enjoyed:

  • Daily access to green, grassy pastures that are never treated with synthetic pesticides
  • Absolutely no cages
  • Freedom to stretch, dust bathe, perch, and lay in privacy
  • Daily access to clean, fresh water and organic feed
  • Outdoor shade structures
  • – Spacious, single-level barns

    What Does Free Range Mean Now

    Free Range Eggs

    If you have been following the egg industry or consumer trends, you will know that there has been a debate over what a free range egg is for a very long time. The demand for ethically raised pork, chickens and eggs rose so dramatically that the large corporations also wanted a piece of the pie but werent prepared to put as much effort as smaller operators had been into producing them. Instead they have applied the usual intensive practices that have been the norm within the industry for some time.

    In Australia, the definition of a free range egg has now been established and the outcome has been disappointing for both producers and consumers. The long battle over who gets to put the words free range on their egg carton, and the new that does not require the hens to actually go outside, has damaged the integrity of the term to the extent that genuine free range farmers have distanced themselves and now call their eggs . Pastured better defines the production system that free range was originally based on and meets consumer expectations for ethically raised hens.

    ‘Bred Free Range’, Outdoor Bred’, Outdoor bred, Raised indoors on Straw’, ‘Born and Bred Free Range’?

    These terms do not mean that the pigs are free range. All these terms mean is that only the sow lives outdoors and that her piglets are weaned as early as 21 days of age and moved indoors into sheds or what the industry likes to refer to as eco shelters.

    Recommended Reading: 1 Hard Boiled Egg Calories

    Are Free Range Eggs Really Better

    Each system of egg production from cage to free range has its own advantages and disadvantages and each performs differently against different criteria.

    In terms of egg quality, all hens are fed a very similar grain-based diet which means all eggs have pretty much the same nutritional profile. Although free range hens are able to go outside and scratch around in the grass, they still get almost all their energy needs from feed inside the shed.

    While free range hens might eat the odd insect or some grass seeds, this has no discernible impact on the nutritional profile of the eggs they lay.

    Latest Recipes

    More Recipes Like This