Chicken and eggs bring a variety of claims in the grocery store, from free-range to natural to no-antibiotics to natural. These labels can be confusing when you’re trying to find a much healthier item. Free-range poultry can use health and other advantages, but you’ll need to look beyond the label to figure out whether the poultry comes from a source you trust.
The definition of free-range does not include specifications on for how long chickens must stay outdoors and under what conditions. Chickens can be outside on concrete for a short time period every day, for instance, and still be labelled as free-range in the grocery store. The labels free-range and cage-free can cause confusion. Cage-free methods chickens raised for meat were not kept in cages within a storage facility. Cage-free does not suggest that chickens have access to outside locations. Purchase from a local farmer who can ensure the chickens ranged on pasture for a bulk of each
What Is Free-Range?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines free-range as allowing chickens to have some access to an outdoors location. The definition of free-range does not include specs on the length of time chickens should remain outside and under what conditions. Chickens can be outdoors on concrete for a short amount of time each day, for example, and still be labeled as free-range in the supermarket. The labels free-range and cage-free can cause confusion. Cage-free ways chickens raised for meat were not kept in cages within a warehouse. Cage-free does not imply that chickens have access to outdoor areas.
To guarantee you’re acquiring meat and eggs from free-range chickens that foraged on grubs and plants as in a natural surroundings, look for indicators on the product packaging that the chickens were pastured, or find poultry with the “Animal Welfare Approved” label, which is handed out by a nonprofit watchdog group (see References 2). Alternatively, purchase from a regional farmer who can guarantee the chickens varied on pasture for a bulk of every day.
Reports have actually been blended on the health advantages of free-range chicken. Some smaller research studies indicate that pastured chickens may be healthier. A 2003 research study by Penn State University scientists found that eggs from pastured hens have greater levels of omega 3 fats and vitamins A and E (see References 3). For the greatest health benefits, purchase poultry and eggs from a trusted source so you understand the chickens ranged freely on pesticide-free grass.
Chickens confined to shared cages inside storage facilities do not take part in their natural behaviours, such as foraging, taking dust baths and flapping their wings. If you are concerned about the number of prescription antibiotics fed to chickens, purchase poultry and eggs labelled with both free-range and no-antibiotic-added labels.
If you’re thinking about getting a few chickens to keep in your backyard or start a business, have a look this free range chicken farming business plan.