Chicken and eggs carry a range of claims in the supermarket, from free-range to organic to no-antibiotics to natural. These labels can be puzzling when you’re searching for a healthier product. Free-range poultry can provide health and other benefits, but you’ll need to look beyond the label to determine whether the poultry originates from a source you trust.
What Does Free-Range Really Mean?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture specifies free-range as permitting chickens to have some access to an outside location. The definition of free-range does not include specs on the length of time chickens should remain outdoors and under what conditions. Chickens can be outside on concrete for a brief amount of time every day, for instance, and still be identified as free-range in the supermarket. The labels free-range and cage-free can trigger confusion. Cage-free methods chickens raised for meat were not kept in cages within a storage facility. Cage-free does not imply that chickens have access to outside areas. To guarantee you’re buying meat and eggs from free-range chickens that foraged on grubs and plants as in natural surroundings, try to find indications on the packaging that the chickens were pastured, or find poultry with the “Animal Welfare Approved” label, which is handed out by a not-for-profit watchdog group. Buy from a local farmer who can ensure the chickens ranged on pasture for a majority of each day.
Reports have been mixed on the health advantages of free-range chicken. Some smaller studies indicate that pastured chickens may be healthier. A 2003 research study by Penn State University researchers found that eggs from pastured hens have higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E. For the best health advantages, purchase poultry and eggs from a trusted source so you understand the chickens ranged freely on the pesticide-free lawn.
Chickens restricted to shared cages inside storage facilities don’t participate in their natural behaviours, such as foraging, taking dust baths and flapping their wings. If you are concerned about the number of antibiotics fed to chickens, purchase poultry and eggs identified with both free-range and no-antibiotic-added labels.
On the Farm or In the Backyard
Free-range chickens on your farm or in your backyard can benefit your landscape. Farmers usage mobile chicken pens to move chickens around on their agricultural lands. Chickens forage for bugs and eat remaining crops such as lettuce and other greens while at the same time fertilizing the soil. This develops a cooperative relationship in between the animals and the land. A few chickens in your yard can help in reducing insects in your garden and supply you with a source of fertilizer. If you’re interested in getting your own business started, check out this Free range chicken farming business plan pdf South Africa.