Free Range? Cage Free? Battery Hen? What does it all mean, and which is the least cruel when buying eggs? The majority of eggs as sold in stores come from battery hens – chickens kept in tiny cages, cramped, and without any options. These are the most cruel of all eggs. As such many people started looking for “Free Range” eggs, believing them to be from happier hens.While it is true that Free Range eggs are from happier hens, they are not from happy hens! Free Range (in most places of the world) is not what you think, and is NOT what is pictured above. Those are my hens by the way.In a Free Range situation (in Canada and the USA anyhow) the hens typically loose in a barn, but the barn is huge and often filled with 20,000 hens. They must have access to an outdoor area but the area is often just cement, and not grass, as it would be impossible to keep grass growing in an enclosed area with that many birds. Generally not all the birds are outside at the same time.In a Cage Free situation the birds are loose but legally there is no requirement for them to be allowed outside. Again the barn that they are loose in is typically crowded. Keep in mind that in both these situations the hens have their beaks cut at the age of day one so that they wont peck each other. Keep in mind also that the day old male chicks are mostly all killed because males don’t lay eggs and the breeds used for egg laying don’t grow fast enough to make them worth keeping for meat.As such free-range eggs, and cage-free eggs are only marginally less cruel than most battery hen eggs. It is still a step in the right direction, but if you want eggs from actual happy hens buy them at a farmer’s market or find a friend that has hens, or get your own!