Why the Move to Free Range?

Perhaps you have noticed that our packages now say “Free Range” instead of “Cage Free” on them? And you have wondered, why the change? And what’s the difference?

Unfortunately, definitions for humane animal care can be a little confusing, even to us at times. But here’s a simplified guide:

Bad: Caged Eggs. Unless they say otherwise, chances are the eggs you eat are caged (still 90% in the U.S.). These are horrific both for hens and for people, and should be banned, as they have been in Europe.

Better: Cage Free. This is an improvement for certain. But some former caged producers are simply converting their “farms” (i.e. egg factories) to “cage free” by meeting the bare minimum of the standard. In no way do these facilities resemble farms as they still pack tens of thousands of birds together in small confined spaces (including big cages, believe it or not) and feeding the hens antibiotics to ward off the inevitable disease spreading. So “Cage Free” isn’t quite as humane or healthy as it should be in many cases.

Better Still: Free Range. This means hens do have some access to the outdoors. It may not be easy to find the door, and the outdoors may not mean access to anything more than a small concrete porch, but its another step in the right direction.

Best: Certified Humane Free Range, which is what all Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs are. That means that the independent, non-profit, widely respected Humane Farm Animal Care organization has audited our operation to certify that we meet their robust standard for free range. That means real access to grass, food and water when the hens want it, ability for them to engage in natural behaviors like roosting, dust bathing being social with each other, and much more.

Becoming 100% Certified Humane Free Range is the completion of a path we have been on for a number of years and we were proud to recently get 100% of our small family farmer partners to achieve every element of this rigorous standard. That’s why we made the name change.

Free Range

Pete & Gerry’s Free Range Hens

5 responses

  1. Love that your business model makes complete sense to so many people. Getting rid of the caged egg situation will be better for everyone. Thank you for doing your part,
    Proud supporter of your eggs!

  2. Hi-I live in California but also have a home in Maine. My husband just brought home a box of your lovely eggs so I looked up your website. I tried to comment on the site but it didn’t work. I was wondering why you don’t label your eggs Pasture Raised. I have come to suspect all eggs labelled cage free or free range because they are misleading as to how the chickens are really raised. Perhaps that is only a west coast phenomenon. It looks like you are doing great work with your chickens.-Joyce Porter (www.goodmotherdiet.com)

    1. Family Farm Team says:

      Hi Joyce! Sorry for the delay, we were having issues with our commenting on our blog. Thanks for a great question! Our eggs are Certified Humane Free Range. This is a real standard that is enforced by Humane Farm Animal Care. This means that our hens get outside on grass as long as there isn’t snow on the ground or predators around. You can find out more at http://www.certifiedhumane.org. We believe that without a third-party like Certified Humane doing the certification, the term “Free Range” can be easily manipulated. The USDA definition is very vague and does not require that the hens get outside on grass.

  3. Mike Ireland says:

    Hi – can you please clarify if the Good family farm (from who your eggs are sourced where I buy in NYC) is also Certified Humane Free Range. By the short profile on your website, it’s hard to decide? Many thanks, Mike Ireland

    1. Sarah Walls says:

      HI Mike! Thanks for reaching out to us. Which ‘Good Farm’ are you referring to? We’d be happy to check into this further if you would not mind sending us a message at: familyfarmteam@peteandgerrys.com

      There are certain times where our hens may not be outside, and you can read about those on our FAQ page at: http://peteandgerrys.com/certified-humane/free-range/

      No matter where our farms are located, they must abide by Certified Humane standards and are regularly inspected to ensure they are doing so. We go through a very thorough vetting process with any of our farmers to ensure they share our values and a commitment to humanely treating our animals. At the end of the day, the hens belong to us so we definitely ensure that they are treated humanely and kindly.

      Thank you for taking a moment to contact us.

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