|LABEL||3rd-party verified?||No cages||Meaningful outdoor access||No routine antibiotic use||No beak trimming|
|United Egg Producers Certified|
|Grade AA, Grade A or Grade B|
|No added hormones|
|American Humane Certified||*|
|American Humane + Free-Range||*|
|Certified Humane + Free Range|
|Pastured or Pasture-raised|
|American Humane + Pastured||*|
|Certified Humane + Pastured|
|Animal Welfare Approved|
|The label does not mean this||Likely means this but not verified||The label means this and is verified|
Hens can be raised in cage-free houses with tens of thousands of other birds, and in a henhouse with perches, the egg industry recommends giving each hen 1 square foot of floor space for a white hen or 1.2 square feet of floor space for a brown hen. That’s roughly the size of two sheets of paper for each bird. When they’re raised in crowded henhouses with thousands of other birds, hens are susceptible to disease and parasites, and disease can spread quickly. Rather than build a healthy system by improving hygiene and animal welfare, egg producers can prevent disease by adding antibiotics to the chickens’ feed. Chickens can also be given antibiotics on a routine basis to promote growth and increase egg production.
Another unintended consequence of crowded indoor confinement is feather pecking. In tightly-packed henhouses and without the opportunity to engage in natural pecking behaviors, chickens are likely to peck at each other. Feather pecking can lead to serious injury, even cannibalism. Rather than address the root cause of this aggressive behavior and give chickens more room and the opportunity to peck for insects and seeds outdoors, egg producers will routinely trim each hen’s sharp beak to minimize the damage. Ideally, chicken producers give birds access to a spacious and vegetated outdoor run or pasture. This gives the animals access to fresh air, sunlight, and the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors such as dustbathing and foraging (scratching-and-pecking).