What is the Difference Between Products Labeled Cage-Free and Free Range?

Cage-free: A product label that says “cage-free” means that hens are able to stretch their wings and move around freely in an open barn where they are provided with nest boxes.

Free Range: There’s no precise federal government definition of “free range,” however the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) generally permits the term to be used if chickens have access to the outdoors for at least some part of the day, whether the chickens choose to go outside or not. In practice, most chickens stay close to water and feed, which is usually located within the chicken house. Chicken labeled as “organic” must also be “free-range,” but not all “free-range” chicken is also “organic.” Less than 1% of chickens nationwide are raised as “free range,” according to the National Chicken Council (NCC).