Many backyard chickens are what you’d call free range. They spend the day combing the yard for bugs and the nights safely tucked in to their coops. A free range chicken enjoys the good life compared to chickens in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO).
But if you are not exactly sure what “free range” means to you, the consumer, it is a method of farming where the chickens are allowed to roam freely outside for at least part of the day. This practice leads to healthier eggs and happier hens.
Cage-free chickens, on the other hand, may not be packed in cages, but generally are packed inside a barn, never to see the sun.
A Free Range Chicken Means Healthier Eggs
Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations do not require that free-range hens actually have access to pasture, though, you need to make sure you are buying eggs from pasture-fed flocks. Eggs from pasture-fed, free-range hens contain, on average, one-third of the cholesterol and one-fourth of the saturated fat as conventional eggs, as well as more Omega-3 fatty acids, which are connected to heart health, lower cholesterol and reduced blood pressure. Studies have found that free-range eggs contain over 40% more Vitamin A and nearly triple the amount of Vitamin E than conventional eggs.
Less than 1% of chickens nationwide are raised as free range, but we found a farm that’s doing it right. The Otaika Valley Free Range Chicken Egg Farm in New Zealand allows their hens to roam free during the day and then spend the night in “spacious, safe barns.” A farmer filmed the chickens coming outside one day — and you’ll want to see what the camera caught!
h/t: Sun Gazing