Skip to Content

The Benefits of Free-Range Eggs

Free-range eggs are a staple in our kitchens. Not only do they contain a wealth of essential nutrients and protein, but they also represent a commitment to ethical farming practices.

The Nutritional Value of Free-Range Eggs

Containing just 74 calories each, eggs are brimming with essential nutrients and vitamins. With all nine essential amino acids, eggs are your one-stop shop for a well-rounded protein source. On top of that, they are a treasure trove of vital nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, D, E, and B12, antioxidants, and choline. (Australian Eggs).

Understanding Free-Range Eggs: A Closer Look at Poultry Farming

When you choose free-range eggs, you're supporting more humane farming practices. Let’s take a look at what free range means, the differences between free-range and organic eggs, and how free-range egg farming in the UK is making a difference.

What Sets RSPCA Assured Free-Range Eggs Apart?

Choosing RSPCA Assured free-range eggs means supporting farms that provide hens with enrichment objects and comfortable environments.

Find RSPCA Assured Eggs at your Favourite Supermarket

RSPCA Assured Hen Welfare

You can find out more about the higher welfare standards of hens on RSPCA Assured farms.

Comparing Free-Range Eggs and Organic Eggs

Both free-range and organic eggs come from hens that enjoy unlimited daytime access to outdoor pastures. The difference is in their night nighttime living conditions and stocking density. Organic hens are kept in barns with no more than six hens per square metre, and the maximum flock size is 3,000.

The Benefits of Free-Range Eggs

Choosing free-range eggs means you're supporting a lifestyle for hens that includes daytime outdoor access, safe and spacious barns at night, and conditions that allow for natural behaviour. Hens in a free-range system have space to roost, with a maximum of nine hens per square metre of usable indoor space.

RSPCA Assured Free-Range Egg Standards

On RSPCA Assured farms, the welfare of free-range hens is a top priority. The maximum flock size is kept at 16,000 birds, and free-range hens are provided with ample litter to encourage natural behaviours. The litter covers at least one-third of the floor surface, ensuring each hen can roam and express its natural tendencies.

The Freshness Test for Free-Range Eggs

Are your free-range eggs still fresh? Here is a simple test to find out.

Place your egg in a bowl of room-temperature water.

It floats

Bad egg, throw it out 

It sinks to the bottom but stands to attention

Safe to eat but on its way out

It lies flat on the bottom

Still fresh and good to eat

Free-Range Eggs in the UK

In the United Kingdom, free-range eggs account for approximately 55% of the total egg production. Marks & Spencer and Co-op both show commitment to ethical farming practices by selling only free-range eggs. Moreover, they exclusively use free-range eggs in their array of baked goods, processed food items, and pre-prepared meals.

Barn-Raised Egg Farming

Barn-raised hens are kept in an indoor environment that allows freedom of movement and encourages natural behaviours, such as dust bathing and scratching. The RSPCA Assured standards can be applied to both barn-raised and free-range systems. Unlike their free-range counterparts, barn-raised hens do not have access to outdoor pastures and spend their entire lives indoors. Presently, just 2.5% of UK egg producers follow the barn-raising system.

Cages and Enriched Cages in UK Egg Farming

Despite the EU's ban on cramped battery cages in 2012, the transition to so-called "enriched" cages has not significantly improved conditions for laying hens. Although these enriched cages provide slightly more space, allowing 13 to 14 hens per square metre, they are equipped with only minimal furnishings. These conditions continue to severely restrict the hens' ability to express natural behaviours. Farms employing cages for laying hens are not endorsed by the RSPCA Assured scheme.

Understanding UK Egg Codes

Eggs sold in the UK come with specific stamps
indicating their production method:

0 = Organic
1 = Free-range
2 = Barn
3 = Caged

Free-Range Egg Recipes

Bring culinary excitement to your meals with our free-range egg recipes. From eggs and soldiers as a breakfast treat to a spaghetti carbonara for dinner, these dishes put the quality and taste of free-range eggs in the spotlight.

Back to top