Free Range vs. Pastured: Chicken and Eggs

| 3/5/2009 11:59:00 AM

Tags: pastured, grass-fed, free-range, chicken, eggs,

EggCartons.jpg"Free range" refers to chickens being allowed to range freely outdoors where they can eat whatever grass, weed seeds, insects and worms they choose. This results in more nutritious eggs and meat for consumers, and more healthy, humane conditions for the birds. Some producers abuse this term and label their eggs as “free range” when in fact all they have done is open a door to allow their chickens to range in an outdoor area of bare dirt or concrete, with no pasture in sight. 

Thus you need to confirm if your eggs or chicken comes from "true" or "pastured" or "grass-fed" free-range conditions. Also, some producers choose a modified system that involves keeping birds safe from predators by confining them in pens or inside electric fencing, and moving the pens frequently onto fresh pastures. Thus, pastured birds may be true free-range or penned, but either system is correctly referred to as “pastured.” And either system is a better choice than products that come from industrial factory farm conditions.

To learn a great deal more about all the terminology you might have to decipher on egg cartons these days (like "cage free" or "enhanced with omega-3s"), check out How to Decode Egg Cartons.

See also: USDA definition 

Ra Su
12/30/2011 5:45:42 PM

Okay, well I'm not allowed to give a link it seems. SO, go to certified humane . org (except with no spaces, of course) and click on "About" and then "Fact sheet" from the drop down menu. Then you can click on "Beak Trimming" which is the article I'm referring to, or check out all the others. :)

Ra Su
12/30/2011 5:42:46 PM

try this link instead

Ra Su
12/30/2011 5:41:43 PM

This article is very helpful and makes you realize how much more complicated grocery shopping is. I've always been the one spending an inordinate amount of time in aisles reading the small print for everything I buy, but this brings it to a whole new level. Also, a little correction about De-beaking: * Here's a a good-news correction to this article that inspires a tad bit more hope.

11/3/2009 3:35:17 AM

Clean chicken ranges mean clean chickens that is all I can say. I hope people agree with me.

Dot Frey
7/23/2009 2:45:37 PM

I would like to find where I can get my eggs tested for the nutritional facts. like the ones on egg cartons.

6/21/2009 3:23:36 PM

my eggs say on carton cer organic ,is that what you call pastured egg ?

David Roberts_5
3/19/2009 10:44:39 AM

Urgent: Contact your Senator and Representative today!!! The following site spells out a bill which could stop folks like Alan and myself from producing any foodstuff either for consumption or sale. This is a serious threat to our way and quality of life. Go to the below site for the details. My Representative and Senator had not read this and could very well pass without much attention if we don't do our duty. Please call them.

3/19/2009 6:01:40 AM

I actually got my hens as an organic pest control for my dwarf orchard. I had no clue as to how many eggs they would pop out. They have the run of the place, and are relentless in their search for bugs. I have one rooster that likes to puff himself up and come running at you sideways, until you bend down to pick him up, and then he runs away - that's why they call them chickens I guess. When I get an extra dozen or so eggs, I'll bring them into work and sell them as a side line.

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