Free Range Eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SouthernBYChickens, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. SouthernBYChickens

    SouthernBYChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm going to ask a very stupid question ( I guess ), but I understand that when eggs are marketed as "free range", I know that means the hens were allowed to roam all around on the ground to eat bugs, worms, grasses, etc. as opposed to those poor layers in the large commercial setups. Now - here is the stupid part - do the hens have to be totally not fenced in at all for them to be considered "free range" or can they be fenced in within a large area as long as they are on the ground grazing free and still be called "free range"? I hope my question makes sense? Thanks in advance!!![​IMG]
     
  2. ZombieChickens

    ZombieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Often times it's just a large fenced in area (meadow, field, barnyard, ect.) Some of the local farmers around my area call them "Cage Free".
     
  3. SouthernBYChickens

    SouthernBYChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:So is there really any difference between "free range" and "cage free"?
     
  4. lolita117

    lolita117 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, I might make some chickens lovers a little mad with my response (and I am too a chicken lover!) But I graduated with a degree in Agriculture plus I have chickens of my own that I love and care for.

    These are commercial definitions:
    Free-Range means that the chickens have access to the outside world. Doesn't matter if they are confined as long as the bird has enough room to walk around and be outside, it also doesn't mean that they have access to the ground. Because in a commercial setting sanitation is their priority, being exposed to the dirt could expose the birds and then their eggs to microbes and diseases and other animals. (This would be their excuse for not allowing the birds to be on dirt, anyways.)

    Cage-Free means that the chickens aren't confined to a 2 foot by 2 foot cage but doesn't mean that they have any access to the outdoors.

    These terms can be really misleading, if its on the side of a carton in a grocery store. Cause it makes you think the birds are living a better life than they really are. When in reality no commercial animal lives a happy wonderful like a farm animal would. But this is the reality of the way we live today, because we (the agriculture industry) could never feed the amount of people around the world that we do, producing animals and animal products like a small scale farm does. Its impossible. As long as the animals aren't mistreated or abused, this will always continue to go on.

    Now here is where I might make some harsh opinions come out. If someone asked me what I considered my chickens, I would not use the term cage-free (one main reason is because this is solely a commercial term), but because I think my chickens are free-range. They have a very large coop (12X18ft) and a fairly large run (12X40ft) for only 28 chickens, but I also let them out of the coop and run into my yard which is not fenced and is surround by a field. I usually let them out 3-4 times a week minimum. I try to let them out as many days as possible. When my chickens are out, they get to roam my 400 acre farm if they wanted to (they never leave the yard). Some might argue that because I don't let my chickens roam from the time they wake to the time they roost that they shouldn't be considered free-range, but at the same time I would be putting my chickens in risk if I did that because of predators and my dogs, who also get to enjoy being out part of the time too.

    So here is my opinion (if you are wanting to market eggs or meat) if you never let your chickens out of the coop or run, I would just refer to them as "Farm Fresh" or "Country Eggs" but if you can let your chickens out 3- 4 times a week for a few hours each time, I would consider them free-range. I market my eggs as Farm Fresh, but I have many customers that when they pull up at my house my chickens are all over the place. But then again, today my chickens stayed in their coop/run all day.
     
  5. SouthernBYChickens

    SouthernBYChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both (Zombie and Lolita) for your information. I appreciate you taking your time in responding.
     
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    [​IMG] I agree with the other posts. USDA free range regulations apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  7. Peachesbabychick

    Peachesbabychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    No you've got it all wrong. Free range eggs are eggs that walk all around the countryside! lol!
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Quote:[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    This is a typical "free range" commercial egg farm. Somewhere in this building there will be a small opening into an outside run with a concrete floor. There is no specification from the USDA on how big the outdoor area must be, or how big the doorway to it must be...so many operations will make the opening and the outside run uninviting to encourage the birds to stay indoors. A "Cage free" operation will look just like this, only without the access to the outdoors.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Fierlin1182

    Fierlin1182 powered-flight

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    Ariel, thanks for posting that info! I knew alreayd that the label "free range" and the pictures of the green meadows were a little misleading, but I didn't know they tried to encourage the birds to stay indoors!

    They look a LOT healthier than the ones in battery cages however.

    I think I'll stick with eating my own chooks' eggs, thank you very much! [​IMG]
     

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