Free-range pastured v. store-bought eggs

I just wanted to do a quick demonstration between the free-range pastured eggs on our farm and eggs from the local supermarket.


Egg from the store on left, our farm egg on right

There are two different issues involved.  The first is the age of the egg.  In the picture above you can see that the white of the egg on the right is nearly perfectly round and more tightly contained.  That tells us it was more recently laid (it was laid sometime this week, the other was purchased yesterday–I don’t know when it was laid).  The store egg is clearly not as fresh though it is still edible of course.  In the water test of freshness it would touch the bottom but be standing up to some degree.

The second issue is content of the egg, primarily the yolk. According to Mother Earth News free-range eggs have:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • Three times more vitamin E
  • Seven times more beta carotene
  • It is important not to get sucked into paying for something at the store that you think is free range, but is not.  Some of the labels you see are “Organic”, “Cage free”, “Free range”, “Pastured”, or some combination of these.

    “Organic” is a good thing- it means the chicken has not been fed hormones or antibiotics, and the feed it eats was organically raised.  However, it does not address the living conditions of the chicken.  It still could be a tightly-caged bird. (We cannot advertise our eggs as organic.  Our chickens are not given antibiotics or hormones, but we don’t use organic grain in the winter.  It’s a matter of expense.)

    “Cage free” and “Free range” are used interchangeably at times. It means the chicken is not confined to a cage.  Unfortunately it doesn’t mean that you won’t see the hen living on a dirt or concrete floor with 1000 of her closest friends.  “Cage free” tends to be inside non-cage confinement and “free range” outdoors, but again they can be penned in overcrowded conditions and still have this name.

    “Pastured” means the chicken is fed on, or at least supplemented with, a pasture.  Eating grass and bugs is what gives egg yolks that lovely orange color. Pastured chickens may still be penned, but they are definitely outside on grass.

    The ideal is to get your eggs from a farm you can visit, so you know the conditions the chickens are living in.

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    8 Responses to Free-range pastured v. store-bought eggs

    1. Trish says:

      Excellent article! Super picture too! I represent my eggs as ‘Happy Chicken Eggs’.
      🙂 Itty bitty tiny happy peeps who are giving me a dozen plus eggs a day.

    2. Lisa says:

      Liked the article; I can see what is meant by “more contained” via this picture. I love my cage free/free range eggs! Guess I’ll go have breakfast now…guess what I’ll have…?

    3. Glory Lennon says:

      Goodness, what a difference in the two eggs! So, my parents are right. Their free-range, pastured, organic chickens do give better eggs. The things I’m learning here are amazing!

    4. Jan says:

      great information!

    5. Debbie says:

      Thank you for this very valuable information! 🙂

    6. I totally support keeping hens this way, they are healthier, and happier, and their eggs so much better!
      Thanks for informing people. The term “pastured” is not often used or understood.

    7. Flo Reilly says:

      I just got my first egg yesterday from my first chickens ever! I have been waiting many years to have chickens and I do love seeing them out in the yard. Today in baking I needed one more egg so added a store bought with the home grown eggs. I was amazed at the difference in appearance so immediately turned to the internet to find out why. Thank you for a most informative article!

      • Julie Helms says:

        Congratulations on your first egg! What an exciting time! I think you will never look back after having your own eggs for awhile. Thanks for visiting.


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