How to buy eggs from happy hens

April 6, 2007
Bruce Passmore, Special to Vancouver Sun

Consumers face a real Easter egg hunt this month if they're looking for the most humanely produced eggs.

People who want their eggs to come from hens that aren't raised in cramped battery cages face a confusing array of choices. Words like "farm-fresh," "vegetarian feed" and "omega-3" cover cartons, along with pictures of hens pecking the ground – all meaningless in terms of animal welfare.

In fact, only eggs labelled "certified organic" are guaranteed to provide hens with the most space, time outdoors and opportunities for natural behaviour. Producers of these eggs are audited by certifying bodies.

Eggs labelled "free-range," come from chickens that have some access to the outside (depending on the weather) and that may have other welfare advantages, such as access to nests and perches.

"Free-run" eggs are from uncaged hens kept in large barns. Neither system is audited for welfare. Tips for buying more humane eggs:

For more information on eggs visit

Bruce Passmore is the Farm Animal Welfare Project coordinator at the Vancouver Humane Society.