Difference Between Cage-Free and Free-Range Eggs

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Farm to table has become pretty popular in recent years. At the same time, many people are starting to care about the process in which the food gets to their tables. One of those items that has received more press lately is chickens and their eggs.

A few weeks ago, my wife started to talk about cage-free but I also started to hear about free-range. They sound pretty similar though, so we were wondering what the difference would be between cage-free and free range eggs?

While cage-free and free-range hens can be very similar in their surroundings and upkeep, the main difference between free-range and cage free eggs is that cage-free hens may be kept inside while free-range hens get to spend all of their lives outdoors.

Free Range Eggs & Chickens

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 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 aren’t any stipulations on the length of time that the chicken must spend outside.

Additionally, there aren’t any rules for what type of outdoor area that the chickens have access to. Approximately 1% of chickens are supposedly raised as free range.

Cage Free Eggs & Chickens

Cage free means that hens that laid the eggs were not raised in a caged housing system. A caged housing system is how the majority of hens in the US are housed.

Unlike Free Range, this doesn’t mean that the hens had access to the outdoors. Even though this sounds like the chickens are free, they are still raised in growout houses like seen below:

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