Do your eggs come from happy hens? [Infographic]

Some notes about the animal welfare certifications-

The information that I primarily based the certification & label tables can be found from The Humane Society.

I feel compelled to point out that American Humane Association does have standards that apply when hens live in a cage-free or even free-range environment.  However, they have a certification that applies to caged hens- and therefore “American Humane Certified” does not mean that hens have basic hen rights.  Read more about their standards here.

Another related note- both the American Humane Certification and the Certified Humane certification do have standards for outdoor access, if outdoor access is granted- however, outdoor access is not required.  Thus, they get a big red X for “Specified quality & duration of outdoor access” – because those certifications are no guarantee that the hens have outdoor access at all.

The Food Alliance does not require that the hens have outdoor access; however, it does require that they get natural light OR outdoor access.  Better than nothing, but still an X for required outdoor access.

There are many things that these certifications do ensure beyond what I showed in the infographic.  It seems like those organizations are trying to find a way to improve the living standards for the hens, but still making it possible for the producers to meet those standards.  I don’t want to insult their efforts, but it is important to realize that a “humane certification” doesn’t mean that the hens are happy or live normal lives.  Also, it is worth knowing that some certifications, ie Animal Welfare Approved are better than others.

Final note: producers can sell eggs cheaper because they reduce costs in ways that frequently come at the expense of animal welfare.  Pastured eggs will cost more.  It isn’t a ripoff, it is just how it is.  We have to vote with our wallet.

Sorry, I got a little ranty at the end there :-)


  1. yourbestfriend says:


  2. Oh! You do an excellent job making this information so nicely organized visually! Would love you to do some for the FTCLDF. contact me?

  3. Association is mispelled under “Pastured Poultry”

  4. I am very happy that I no longer have to buy eggs from the store. I have chickens and if I ever run out, or have a large amount of family coming over and have to buy eggs, I can normally get a few dozen from farmer markets or the many friends that I have that also have chickens! A few years ago, I wasn’t even close to this. It’s awesome to look back on a progressive change and see how far you have come.

  5. Nice– thanks for putting this together

  6. This is very useful, except I see one obvious error. “Free-range” is a term and not a certification as you know. It does not mean that the hens have outdoor access, it just means they can roam around, usually inside a large barn full of 20-30K other hens. It is the same thing as “cage-free”. Also, it would be good to point out that forced molting is also the main reason that hens get salmonella infections and why eggs can be contaminated with the salmonella organism. Research has shown this to be true- the forced molting reduces the hens immunity making them susceptible to salmonella infection.

  7. HI – I really liked how you organized the info here, quite useful. I have a few other intersting food infographs I’ve come across that I’d be happy to share if you’re interested?

  8. My neighbor is considering putting in a 16,000-chicken operation. Organic. 1.75 square feet per chicken. Access to outdoors. Trees planted outside to hide under. I need a telephone consultation with someone knowledgeable. I have a number of concerns but I am not good at internet research–I’m better learning interactively in conversation.
    My email is liscomail (at) analogyservice (dot com). Thanks.


  1. […] helpful infographic at the end of this article visually breaks down which labels mean […]

  2. […] ResourcesFind eggs from pastured hens in your area on Egg Brand Scorecard – Rates organic egg producers from “exemplary” to “ethically deficient”Mother Earth News Egg StudyInfographic: […]

  3. […] was going to create an infographic to round out this post, but when I stumbled on this one from Visualism, I thought it is far superior to anything I could create.  It encapsulates so well everything […]

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