So technically speaking what would i call the eggs we are getting when we go to sell some? I keep the chickens (13 RIR's) in the run (10x30) and coop at night (10x10) currently but i am slowly working up my nerve to turn them loose in my 100x150 fended yard for part of the day. I just really hate to lose one if they fly over the fence (5 foot) or something. Although they dont every make any attempts to try to fly where they are now so it would probably be ok and its been 2 weeks today so i figure they know where home is by now.
That means they are not in tiny cages, but rather can roam the poultry house. It is slightly more humane but probably does not affect the nutrition, meaning you still get an inferior egg. A quick Google of the topic turned up this quote: "It is possible also that under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a case could be made that birds are being kept in a way significantly different from what people expect. People expect "free range" to signify birds who spend much or most of their day outdoors with ample space, exercise, sunlight, social life, and at least some sustainable vegetation. However, U.S. producers generally mean that the birds are uncaged and confined indoors on the floor of a building with nest boxes along the walls. "
i would not be too nervous about them flying over your fence. i have 26 chickens, they are free range/free roaming, whatever. i have a 4 board fence around the first 2-3 acres of my property, so just horse fence. its open, they could hop up or over, but they don't. i do have a strand of electric around the bottom to keep dogs and the like out.
i have to admit, when they range further than i would like i get nervous but they all come running when i go out for a visit and they know where home is, so they should be fine.
"Free range", like "organic", has lost all real meaning as it is a govt regulated term. If you meet certain MINIMAL standards AND pay a fee to allow you to use the term "free range", that is what you would call the eggs...but it would really have no meaning. You'd be surprised at how crappy you can keep your chickens and still use the free range label as long as you pay those fees...
I use the term "naturally raised"...I don't break the law, but it lets folks know that the chickens meet the ORIGINAL meaning of :free range".