Why Choose Organic Chicken
Intensively reared, Free range & Organic… what’s the difference?
It’s well known that free-range chickens are more fortunate than intensively reared caged chickens, but what if you could do even better? Well we have the answer… you can! Compelling scientific research shows that organic chickens are less stressed, live longer and are more fertile than their free-range counterparts and even more so compared to caged chickens.
To class as free range, chickens have up to 4 square metres outside and can be housed in numbers of 16,000, while an organic chicken has to have a minimum of 10 square metres of space with strictly no more than 2,000 to a flock - to put this into perspective, intensively reared chickens are raised in flocks of up to 100,000 with less than 550 square centimetres of space – about as much room as an A4 sheet of paper.
You may have recently heard about the threat of intensively reared, chlorinated chickens being imported from the US and entering the UK’s food supply. This would be a massive step backwards for the UK food industry and have a devastating effect on the quality of produce sold. The process of chlorinating chickens is where the chicken carcasses are dunked and soaked in chlorine and is done so to remove any bacteria such as salmonella… however, research conducted by Southampton University discovered that this practice isn’t efficient or healthy- Chlorine washing just makes it impossible to detect the bacteria in the lab, giving the false impression that the bacteria have been killed when they haven't.
Not only is intensively reared, chlorinated chicken bad for us, but also for the chickens themselves. They live in cramped, dirty conditions with no access to outside and often die in pain prematurely by cause of dehydration, illness, and infection of injuries.
So why is Organic even better than Free-range?
Here at Eversfield Organic, we believe that happier, healthier chickens lead to better produce, meaning their welfare is one of our top priorities.
Due to this, we make sure our chickens have a kinder, more natural environment and larger space. This means they are free to roam around, forage and express their instinctive behaviour. As mentioned earlier, organic chickens have more space inside and outside and are housed in smaller numbers, but that’s not where the difference stops. Even on free range chicken farms, GM (Genetically Modified) feed is used and antibiotics are regularly given to prevent illness and infections, while in organic chicken farming the use of antibiotics can be avoided because poor housing conditions and illness due to stress aren’t a problem.
Furthermore, a common practice on free-range farms and intensively reared chicken farms alike is beak trimming. This is where the front of a chicken’s beak is burnt off and is carried out to stop stressed chickens pecking and injuring each other. In organic farming, this practice is strictly banned and not needed because the chickens having more space and being happier.
It’s not only meat chickens that are affected by poor standards but laying hens as well. Free range hens used for eggs can be held with up to nine birds per square metre which is the equivalent to 14 adults living in a one room flat. While they are labelled free-range, often they are so crammed in inside, they can’t reach the exit to get out. This is drastically different to organic chickens where, under soil association standards, there can be no more than 6 chickens per square metre and all chickens must have easy access to outdoors. Unfortunately, only 2% of eggs bought are organic, with the remaining 98% split half and half between free-range and caged chickens.
In conclusion, organic is A LOT better for not only you, but for chickens (and organic livestock in general) as well!
- Anna Elliot