Intensively reared, free-range, and organic chickens - what sets them apart?
It's no secret that free-range chickens are better off than their intensively reared counterparts kept in cages, but did you know that you can do even better?
The answer lies in organic chicken farming, where compelling scientific research has shown significant advantages for both the chickens and consumers alike.
Let's break down the key differences between intensively reared, free-range, and organic chickens:
- Space and Living Conditions: Intensively reared chickens are crammed in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions, with each chicken having less space than an A4 sheet of paper. These cramped spaces can lead to stress, dehydration, illness, and infections, causing premature suffering and even death for the birds.
Free-range chickens have slightly more space, with up to 4 square meters outside and housed in larger flocks of up to 16,000 birds. While this is an improvement, it still falls short of providing optimal living conditions.
Image: Our chicken supplier Ross has an affinity with his birds.
Organic chickens, on the other hand, have a minimum of 10 square meters of space with strictly no more than 2,000 to a flock. This allows them ample room to roam, forage, and express their natural behaviors, leading to happier and healthier chickens.
- Feed and Antibiotic Use: Both free-range and intensively reared chickens often consume genetically modified (GM) feed, and antibiotics are regularly given to prevent illness and infections due to the stressful living conditions.
In organic chicken farming, the use of antibiotics can be avoided, as the healthier environment and living conditions reduce the likelihood of illness and stress-related issues. Additionally, GM feed is strictly prohibited in organic farming, ensuring that the chickens' diet is more natural and in line with their instincts.
Beak Trimming: Beak trimming is a common practice on free-range and intensively reared chicken farms to prevent stressed chickens from pecking and injuring each other. In organic farming, this practice is strictly banned, as the chickens' improved living conditions and reduced stress levels make it unnecessary.
Laying Hens for Eggs: Free-range hens used for egg production may still face overcrowded conditions indoors, limiting their access to the outdoors. In contrast, organic chickens must have easy access to the outdoors, with a maximum of 6 chickens per square meter, ensuring they can express their natural behaviours and live in a more spacious and humane environment.
The Egg-cellent Choice
When it comes to choosing chicken or eggs, going organic is undoubtedly the best option. Organic farming not only ensures better welfare for the chickens but also provides healthier and more sustainable produce for consumers. Here at Eversfield Organic, the welfare of our livestock is a top priority, and we're committed to providing our chickens with the best possible living conditions. By choosing organic, you're making a positive impact on animal welfare, the environment, and your own well-being.
So, the next time you're shopping for chicken or eggs, make the conscious choice to support organic farming practices. Together, we can pave the way for a more ethical, sustainable, and egg-cellent future for all!