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Organic: Certified organic chickens have been fed organically grown feed all their lives and never treated with antibiotics. Many small growers and free-range growers follow organic practices, but may or may not be certified organic.
Organic eggs are required to come from chickens that are fed certified organic feed (that is, feed grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms) and are the chickens must remain cage free or free ranged.
"Organic" is the only of all of these labels that has not just regulations attached to it, but actual inspections and enforcement. many egg cartons labeled "organic eggs" in stores may be in fact using the "buzz word" to get you to pay higher fees for eggs that may be from caged hens. Many times "organic" is actually part of the name of the company! Buyer beware!
Organic or Free Range
Free Range: As you might imagine, that phrase can be interpreted generously or quite narrowly. Some farmers let their free-range chickens roam on real fields and pastures. Larger producers, however, have been known to follow only the letter of the law, not its spirit, and put an open window or small door that leads to a paved patch of ground at one end of a large, crowded hen house. if you buy eggs from a supermarket, its likely this is what you are buying.
Natural or Pastured: This is what MOST backyard and farm chickens REALLY are. Chickens that consume outside diet of bugs, some grains, grasses and weeds and perhaps laying mash too. These chickens are put up in coops at night and mostly free range in the daytime. Did you know that fresh farm eggs are so good for your body and natures most healthy food!
Cage-Free Eggs "Cage-free" means that the hens laying "cage-free" eggs are, quite simply, not kept in cages. They are free to walk around the hen house, to perch on roosts, and to lay eggs in nests. This is in great contrast to most laying hens, which are kept in cages so small that they can't fully open their wings, much less walk or move about. "Cage-free" eggs are also fairly widely available – and a solidly better choice than most commercial/industrial eggs – at mainstream grocery stores. Sometimes "Cage Free" may be the part of the name of the company to make them look more humane, so buyer beware!
Vegetarian Fed: Just a "buzz word" for marketing. ALL chickens eat bugs! if they can find one. A chicken needs protein. Chickens that do not have high protein (bugs) in their diet will make low protein eggs, unless hens are given a very special diet, its unlikely that these eggs are really "vegetarian" as most chicken feeds contain bugs.
Yard Eggs: Another version of natural or pastured eggs Usually yard eggs are fertile.
Caged: Sadly, this should be outlawed all together for the horrible conditions that chickens must suffer through in order to lay eggs their whole sad deprived lives. If you can avoid buying "caged" eggs. Please do. Consider buying your eggs from a farmer, co-op or provider that really CARES for their chickens. Or, grow your own flock of hens and you can decide what your chickens eat and how they are cared for, chickens are wonderful birds and deserve the best of car