Cage Free vs Free Range
Cage Free and Free Range are labels that we encounter on poultry products, especially eggs these days. These labels are meant to indicate that hens that laid these eggs have been provided more human conditions to live in than the normal practice of cramming up them inside small poultry farms. The two terms, despite having similarities, have differences that will be highlighted in this article to enable readers to pick up the eggs that they are looking for when inside a shop.
The term cage free on eggs indicates that the hens have never been caged up and have been allowed to roam over a small area. This is possible in open barns where hens are allowed to roam scot free in small open spaces. These spaces even have bedding material in the form of shavings of pine on the floor and nest boxes for hens to go inside and lay their eggs. Cage Free does not mean that hens do not live with other hens. In fact, eggs coming from Cage Free hens may not be any healthier than the eggs of caged birds since, in some places, hundreds of hens are made to live in a small open space. There is some regulation about the number of hens in an area when it comes to cage free eggs, but outside EU, there is not much of a regulation followed.
People becoming aware or conscious of the conditions in which egg laying hens are kept has given way to Free range hens. This is a term that applies to hens that are allowed outside access, though there are no regulations or guidelines indicating how long hens are allowed outside access or the frequency of such access. Thus, free range has different meanings in different countries. Inside US, it simply means that hens are allowed to roam outside for some time. In some farms, hens are allowed to roam outside before they are captured at night and locked inside. In others, time for free roam is much less.
What is the difference between Cage Free and Free Range?