What Are Cage Free Eggs

Question: What are cage free eggs?

When speaking of eggs and egg labeling – What does “cage free” mean? What does “free range” mean?


Cage free eggs are ones that were laid by hens who live in barns or warehouses, not in battery cages. Eggs laid by these free range hens are also sometimes called “free range eggs” or “free roaming eggs”.

What Are Cage Free Eggs

cage free eggs

The term Cage free eggs is all about how the hens were raised and actually has little to do with the actual eggs. Cage free hens, allowed an area in which to move around freely, have a much better life than those which are kept in cages and live only to sit and lay eggs. Cage free eggs are laid by hens that live in a larger area and can engage in normal hen behavior, for instance pecking & flapping their wings. Thus, since they are more humanely raised, they are happier hens. So, it should make sense that great eggs come from happy hens if happy cows produce great cheese!

There are no cage free egg audit procedures in place. This cage free process is strictly by word of the producer. Although given more space, most of the hens that produce these cage free eggs never see the outside of the barn or warehouse in which they are raised. The only real rule for cage free is that they are not kept in small cages.

Other Egg Terms Now Appearing on Cartons

Additional Information

Other terms that you might see on your egg carton include:

Natural” – which doesn’t mean anything really because all eggs are laid naturally;

Farm-fresh” – which doesn’t mean much either since no one is allowed to sell rotten eggs;

Pasteurized” – these eggs have been sterilized at a low heat long enough to kill bacteria. These eggs are labeled with a “P” inside of a red circle and are safe to use in recipes calling for raw or slightly cooked eggs. ;

Certified Organic” – which means that the chickens are raised on a completely organic vegetable diet – this one is regulated for compliance by the USFDA;

Certified Humane” – which is strictly enforced and means that the chickens have room to roam and are never starved in order to induce a laying cycle;

Omega-3 enriched” – which means that the chickens have been fed fish and/or flaxseed oils in order to produce yolks that are higher in essential fatty acids.

To find out how long fresh eggs last, visit our fresh egg page.

To find out how long hard boiled eggs can be expected to last, visit our hard boiled egg page.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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