Consumer's Guide to Humane Egg Choices

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If you're like most Americans, you care about the welfare and treatment of the animals on our farms and ranches. In fact, in a national survey conducted by the American Humane Association, an overwhelming 94.9% of 5,400 participants said they were concerned about the welfare of animals in U.S. agriculture.

At American Humane Association, we believe people should be able to follow their food preference and find humanely raised dairy, meat, and egg products that are both safe and affordable.

In the United States, most egg-laying hens live in cages that restrict their freedom of movement, but there are humane alternatives. American Humane Association certifies not just one, but four types of humane laying hen housing: Enriched Colony Housing, Cage Free, Free-Range, and Pasture. Each type meets our rigorous animal welfare standards. These standards address everything from adequate space to food, water, light, health, and the ability to engage in natural behaviors. The American Humane Certified standards are science and evidence-based and certified producers are annually audited by an independent third party to ensure these standards are being met.

Enriched Colony Housing

In Enriched Colony Housing, hens live in small flocks with room to sit, stand, turn around and extend their wings. Additionally, they are provided with environmental enrichments such as nest boxes that provide privacy during egg laying, pads for scratching, and perches on which to roost. 

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Cage-Free Housing

Hens raised in cage-free housing can move freely throughout the barn. Floors may be covered in litter that encourages scratching and dust bathing behaviors. Hens are also provided with curtained or enclosed nest boxes and elevated perches. Some cage-free housing systems may also provide the hens access to the outdoors.

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Free-Range Housing

Hens in free-range housing have daytime access to an outdoor area of at least 21.8 ft2/ hen. The outdoor areas must be continually rotated to ensure sustainability and quality of the pasture. Outdoor spaces have additional water and shade provided. To protect the hens from predators and environmental conditions, they are kept inside at night and during inclement weather. Inside the barn, free-range housing meets the same standards as cage free housing.

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Pasture Raised Housing

Pasture raised hens are provided at least 108.9 ft2/ hen. Similar to free-range hens, pasture raised hens have daytime access to the outdoors with additional water and shade provided. The hens will spend the nights inside the barn protected from predators and environmental conditions.

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To purchase humanely produced eggs and egg products, look for the American Humane Certified label at the grocery store. This label ensures that the eggs you purchase were laid by hens raised in one of the four humane production systems that meet our rigorous animal welfare standards. To review the complete standards documents, click here and view our full standards for all 4 housing styles.