Cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised, non-GMO, Organic, conventional, and all natural are just a few labels you’ll see on egg cartons at your local grocery store. If you’re feeling dizzy just reading all of these terms, rest assured you’re probably not the only one.
Some of these terms are regulated, while others aren’t. If you’re wondering about the difference between cage-free and pasture-raised eggs, here’s what you need to know.
About 90% of eggs in the US are caged eggs, which means they come from birds confined to cages with just 67 – 144 square inches of space. They are fed a diet from corn, soy and other grains and don’t have the freedom to enjoy the outdoors.
Cage-free hens have around one square foot of space indoors and also eat a grain based diet often consisting of corn and soy, without access to the outdoors.
Free-range hens have up to 21.8 square feet of space and although are given access to the outdoors, access can be limited. Like caged and cage-free hens, free-range hens also eat a grain based diet consisting of soy and corn. Free range hens are typically associated with Organic production, which does follow the organic standards and the hens are fed a certified organic diet along with access to the outdoors.
Chino Valley Ranchers pasture-raised hens have access to a minimum of 108 square feet per bird of outdoor pastureland to which native grasses, seeds, bugs, and worms can be found while foraging. They have the freedom to leave the barn early in the morning and enjoy our green pastures, dust-bathing, and plenty of sunshine.
This access to natural sunlight and fresh air also benefits the nutritious content of pasture-raised eggs. Compared to conventional eggs, pasture-raised eggs have been found to contain higher levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin D, and a healthier balance of omega-3 fatty acids.
Comparing egg yolks of different types of eggs, it’s easy to see how pasture-raised eggs are different. Their egg yolks have a vibrant orange color, making them a preferred choice among top chefs — for both color and quality.
So the next time you’re at the supermarket and you’re wondering which egg variety to purchase, choose pasture-raised eggs — because that’s the way nature intended eggs to be.