Learn the differences between the main types of eggs in the market.
In caged systems, called battery cages, hens live almost their entire lives unable to fully open their wings and walk freely.
Each hen is given a space smaller than a sheet of paper to live and each cage can have up to 12 animals (total number may depend on the cage size).
They cannot carry out most of their natural behaviors, which are incredibly important to their welfare, such as nesting, grazing, and perching.
In caged systems, it is common for birds to have fractured bones due to the lack of movement, and feather loss due to continuous contact with the cages’ bars.
ANIMAL WELFARE CERTIFIED EGGS
Cage-free, free-range and organic egg farms can receive animal welfare certifications.
In Latin America, the ‘Certified Humane’ certification ensures that laying hens are raised under a set of standards developed by more than 40 animal welfare scientists and farm animal veterinarians from around the world.
Specific standards are set for space, enrichment, litter areas, air, light, flooring, food, and water. We highly encourage companies to work with their suppliers to implement these animal welfare certifications, to ensure cage-free systems are well managed.
Cage-free systems have the potential to considerably increase hens’ living conditions when compared to caged systems. This can allow them to achieve higher welfare when compared to cage systems.
While cage-free systems do not allow access to external areas, hens still benefit a lot from being able to move freely inside barns.
It is highly recommended that cage-free barns are equipped with enrichment areas, nest boxes, perches, and litter on the floor, to allow the animals to carry out most of their natural behaviors.
Cage-free systems may consist of single-level or multilevel barns.
FREE-RANGE AND ORGANIC
In both free-range and organic systems, hens have access to an external area where they can walk and graze in natural daylight.
Access to external areas should be open during the day, while animals are kept inside closed sheds during the night. The feed is always offered in closed areas, to ensure good biosecurity standards.
It is recommended that animals are given enrichment inside the sheds, similarly to cage-free systems. These can be considered the highest welfare systems. Many producers all over the world have already had their farms certified as free-range or organic.
The organic system requires that animal feed is produced organically, without the use of pesticides, for example, and antibiotics, as a prophylactic treatment, or other chemical products, are forbidden.