Choosing the Right Kind of Eggs : Conventional vs Cage-free vs Free-range

July 13, 2023

Eggs are usually one of the always available food items in an “eggetarian” or a non-vegetarian household. They are easy to cook and can be cooked in many ways like scrambled, boiled, fried, as an omelette etc. It is the most consumed food for breakfast.

But do you know what kind of eggs you should have and which ones are more nutritious? 

Let’s learn about the different types of eggs. So the most common types available in the market are conventional cage eggs, cage-free eggs and free-range eggs. 

Conventional cage eggs 

Conventional cage eggs are produced by hens that are kept in cages in large numbers. These cages are small and do not provide enough space for the hens to move around or engage in natural behaviours such as perching, nesting, or dust-bathing. The hens are usually kept in cramped conditions, which can lead to stress and health problems. They are usually fed a diet of corn and soy and may be given antibiotics to prevent infections. Conventional cage eggs are cheaper than other types of eggs, but many people prefer to choose eggs from hens that are treated more humanely.

Cage Free eggs 

Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are not kept in cages. These hens are usually housed in indoor barns or other structures that allow them to move around freely, perch, nest, and engage in other natural behaviours. Cage-free eggs are often considered to be more ethical and sustainable than conventional cage eggs, but they may still be produced in large numbers and under conditions that may be problematic.

Free Range eggs 

Free-range eggs are produced by hens that have access to the outdoors and can engage in natural behaviours such as perching, nesting, and foraging. These hens are usually housed in indoor barns or structures at night for protection and safety. During the day, they are allowed to roam outside and eat grass, insects, and other natural food sources. Free-range eggs are often considered to be more ethical and sustainable than cage-free or conventional cage eggs because the hens are allowed to live in more natural conditions. However, there are no strict regulations on the amount of outdoor space required for free-range hens, so the quality of life for these hens can vary widely depending on the specific farm or producer.

Health Benefits and Nutrition 

Studies have shown that the nutrient content of eggs can vary depending on the environment in which the hens are raised [1]. Free-range eggs have been found to contain higher levels of magnesium, beta-carotene, flavonoids, carotenoids, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids [2]. Other eggs, on the other hand, have been found to contain lower levels of phosphorus and zinc. These differences in nutrient content may be due to the differences in the diets and lifestyles of the hens. 

Compared to cage eggs and cage-free eggs, Free range eggs contain less cholesterol, less saturated fat, more vitamin A and vitamin E. It contains more beta-carotene as compared to other eggs and twice the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids (Gaia). Another experiment conducted found that Free range eggs had almost six times the vitamin D and vitamin B content than conventional eggs. [3]

Egg yolks are known to be good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are important for the eyes. In conventional and cage-raised eggs, the yolk is usually pale and a watery yellow because waste from the grain industry is used as animal feed and contains fewer antioxidants. Consumers will find a deep yellow and orange yolk in truly free range eggs, indicating high levels of antioxidants.[4]

Free range eggs are higher in nutrients compared to other kinds of eggs, therefore it is always better to have free range eggs. Also, the antibiotic used in the conventional eggs can cause extreme anaphylactic reactions ( Hives,Itching etc.) [5]. Along with that, conventional eggs are high in Omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3 and high intake of omega 6 fatty acid can lead to various heart diseases. Free-range hens also have a far better life than other hens, with space that allows them to participate in their normal behaviors. Birds who live in cages in large flocks can be vulnerable to disease or getting trapped in between wires, which leads to the poor quality of their eggs as well. 


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