[Resolved] Is Pastured Chicken The Same As Free Range?

Free-range is also a term regulated by the USDA, and it means hens were given continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle 🙌 This does not guarantee that a hen ever actually stepped foot outside, it just means there was a way for them to do so 😁 It’s one step more humane than cage-free in philosophy, but according to NPR, it might just mean that the’s having hens had a “few small doors that lead to a screened-in porch with cement, dirt or a modicum of grass 🙈” To be free-range and certified humane, there must be a minimum of two square feet of outdoor space per bird. [1]
However, the USDA does not require the hens to be actually going outside (only access is required), nor does it define what outside is. They also do not have any requirement on the size or type of the outdoor space. “Free range” can actually include a chicken coop with a small door that leads to just a small outdoor pen, or a patch of dirt or concrete (even without grass.) In fact, Michael Pollan, in Omnivore’s Dilemma, describes a free-range CAFO as thousands of birds packed into windowless, military barrack like buildings with one or two small doors to a 10×10 outdoor pen. He also doubted any of the chickens actually ventured out for fear of the unknown. The hens may spend their lives inside the pens, not have enough sunlight or breath natural air. (last modified 12 days ago by Leonidas Buckner from Imphal, India) [2]
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From the broiler nutritional study APPPA conducted in 2013, I sampled a non-organic free-range CAFO broiler along with another free-range organic CAFO broiler for some comparative numbers. There were several key differences compared to the pastured samples. The pastured samples showed elevated levels of vitamins D and E, whereas the free-range samples were negligible. Depending on the feed type, the pasture-raised samples had an omega 6:3 ration of 3:1 (non-soy feed) or 8:1 (soy feed) compared to 11:1 for the two free-range CAFO samples I purchased for the test. Vitamins D and E and the omega profiles are a few of the often-cited differences in grass-based production systems. [3]
Luckily, our farms have been raising chickens for many decades. Over the years, we’ve gained expertise that only comes from doing something for a long time, and we’re constantly improving on it as we go. This is one of many things that sets Nellie’s apart from others in the egg industry. It’s our hope that each time you’re at the grocery store, you can reach for the purple carton with confidence because you know we’re doing the right thing for our hens, farmers, and for you. And by helping you navigate all those confusing terms in the egg aisle, we hope to show you why we’re so proud to do what we do. (revised by Justis Pettit on November 30, 2021) [4]

Article References

  1. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/defining-egg-labels_n_57ffaabfe4b05eff55820176
  2. https://www.downtoearth.ph/pasture-raised-v-free-range-chickens/
  3. https://apppa.org/Free-Range
  4. https://www.nelliesfreerange.com/blog/is-pasture-raised-better-than-free-range
Mehreen Alberts

Written by Mehreen Alberts

I'm a creative writer who has found the love of writing once more. I've been writing since I was five years old and it's what I want to do for the rest of my life. From topics that are close to my heart to everything else imaginable!

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