The key difference between Free-Range and other egg farming methods is that hens have access to the outdoors. The hens are housed in sheds fitted with nest boxes and perches and are able to access the outdoors through pop-holes in the shed walls.
Depending on their size, commercial Free-Range farms may house a few hundred hens to many thousands. Because the hens range outdoors they are more vulnerable to disease, predators, parasites and weather, so close monitoring and other preventative measures are very important in managing the health and welfare of flocks.
The Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare 2012 sets out the standards of care and management for layer hens in New Zealand. It includes specific standards for Free-Range egg farming.