Pasture Raised vs Free Range Chicken

There is a lot of talk these days about choosing pasture raised chicken over free range chicken. But maybe you’re not sure what the difference is the two? And why does it matter when it comes to eating chicken? Here we’re going to provide some information to answer those questions.

The USDA’s (and industry standard) definition for Free Range is that birds must have access to the outdoors. By being free range, there is access for the chickens to get outdoors, even if only by way of a “pop hole,” but there isn’t any minimum space requirement.

HFAC’s Certified Humane® Free range requirements are two-foot minimum space per bird. Weather permitting the hens must be outdoors for a minimum 6 hours each day. Pasture raised chickens have different space requirements. There can be 1000 birds per every 2.5 acres or 108 sf per bird. The hens are left outdoors all year long and the fields rotated periodically. The housing for the hens can be fixed or mobile as long as there is access for them to get in at night for protection from predators.

Pasture raised chicken have free roaming range, meaning, they aren’t fenced-in a confined area. Having free roaming space keeps them more relaxed and able to get more exercise. Raising chickens in a pasture is more humane because it allows them to follow nature’s schedule for eating and sleeping. When birds are allowed to graze naturally, they are less stressed and healthier, which in turn gives meat a rich fuller taste.

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