Pasture Raised Eggs vs Commercial Eggs

Pasture Raised Eggs vs Commercial Eggs

which would you rather feed your family?


Pasture raised eggs come from chickens that live a more natural life. They are free to roam the farm doing what chickens do. They have access to multiple watering stations and they have a safe roost to come back to each night. Our pasture raised chickens share three nest boxes in which they take turns laying their eggs.

The pasture raised hens also have access to an abundant supply of supplemental feed. This gives them the balanced diet they need to produce healthy eggs and live a long productive life.

Commercial laying hens, on the other hand, do not enjoy fresh air, sunlight, and room to roam. In fact, their living conditions are abysmal at best. Watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean. These conditions are more like a civil war era prisoner of war camp then a farm producing food for human consumption. When you buy eggs at the grocery store, you are supporting these conditions.

Don’t buy eggs from Costco, Walmart, or Sams Club. Find a local producer who is raising hens in a more sustainable fashion. Pasture raised  vs commercial eggs, there really is no comparison in the quality of the hen’s life, or in the quality of the eggs you’ll feed your family.

Be wary of misleading labels on commercial eggs. Here’s what the words they use really mean according to an article published by NPR (click this to read the entire NPR article or read my summary below):

Farm Fresh

What It Actually Means: “It literally means nothing,” says Paul Shapiro, vice president of the Humane Society of the U.S. and an expert on commercial egg production. He says the term is probably meant to conjure up a favorable image in the consumer’s mind, but it has no substance whatsoever.

All Natural

What It Actually Means: Once again, this phrase has no real meaning. Shapiro says it’s an ironic term, too, “because [conventional chickens] are raised in the least natural conditions imaginable.”


What It Actually Means: Exactly what it sounds like: The hens don’t live in cages. But they don’t live in bucolic red barns, either. They usually live in aviaries: massive industrial barns that house thousands of birds. Each bird has, on average, 1 square foot of space.

No Hormones

What It Actually Means: This term is rather misleading, because it’s illegal to give hormones to poultry, and no large-scale farms in the U.S. do so. It’s like putting a label on a cereal box that says, “No toxic waste.”

No Antibiotics

What It Actually Means: Once again, this is a somewhat misleading term because antibiotics are rarely used in the egg industry. Chickens that are raised for their meat, on the other hand, do commonly get antibiotics to fend off disease and increase animal growth.


What It Actually Means; Free-range means cage-free plus “access to the outdoors.” But as Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute notes, this “access” typically means a few small doors that lead to a screened-in porch with cement, dirt or a modicum of grass. And often, Kastel says, industrial fans that suck ammonia out of the building create “hurricane winds” through the small doorways, “and the birds don’t really want to walk through that.”

The vast majority of free-range birds in commercial egg facilities never actually go outside. So in most cases, free-range means the same thing as cage-free. Unlike in poultry production, there’s no government oversight of the term “free range” when it comes to eggs, so companies can more or less interpret it as they see fit.

Vegetarian Diet

What It Actually Means: This is perhaps the most confusing claim because chickens are not vegetarian. They’re omnivores that, in the wild, get most of their protein from worms, grasshoppers and other insects. Hens that are fed a “vegetarian diet” are probably eating corn fortified with amino acids.


What It Actually Means: The hens are probably given a bit of flaxseed mixed in with their corn feed, possibly leading to higher levels of omega-3s in their eggs.


What It Actually Means: “Organic” actually means something very specific, and egg producers who use it are subject to USDA regulation. Organic eggs must come from chickens that are free-range (cage-free plus access to the outdoors), fed organic feed (no synthetic pesticides) and receive no hormones or antibiotics.

But as was the case with “free-range” eggs, Kastel says, “organic” eggs are usually coming from birds that live in crowded, industrial aviaries. His organization has created an egg scorecard that rates organic egg farms on a much wider variety of factors.


What It Actually Means: In terms of replicating chickens’ natural environment and way of life, pasture-raised is pretty much the gold standard. Pasture-raised birds spend most of their life outdoors, with a fair amount of space plus access to a barn. Many are able to eat a diet of worms, insects, and grass, along with corn feed (which may or may not be organic).

If you want to read the entire article at NPR here is the link