What’s the Difference Between a Free-range and Farm-raised Chicken?

farm raised and free range chicken differences

In this post, we’ll look into the difference between free-range chicken and farm-raised ones. 

Chicken meat is a known source of protein that’s both healthy and delicious. 

You can prepare this poultry animal’s meat in various ways that will suit your desires and diet needs. 

But not all chickens are the same. 

Depending on how they are raised, the chicken’s meat as well as its eggs can differ in size, composition, and nutritional value. 

What is free-range chicken?

Don’t be deceived by the term because free-range chicken doesn’t have freedom, just like most of the chickens on Earth. 

These chickens are still grown in farms but as defined by the USDA, they are to be housed in an enclosed area that provides unlimited access to food and water.

And unlike caged chickens, they are allowed to roam outdoors from time to time especially during daytime and their laying season.

It was also specified that the outdoor area can be fenced and may have a net-like covering. 

This opportunity to wander about has made it possible for these chickens to practice natural behaviors such as foraging, perching, and dust bathing. 

They also have the liberty to socialize with fellow chickens or other friendly animals in the area as much or as less as they want. 

Either way, access to the outside world reduces chicken-to-chicken contact. This, in turn, relieves stress and reduces violence amongst them. 

While there’s no complete freedom in the free-range style of raising chickens, it is still considered to be more humane than caging chickens their entire lives.

What is farm-raised chicken?

Let’s get things straight – most chickens, if not all, that are available in the market are farm-raised. 

But for this article, let’s consider farm-raised variants as only the caged chickens bred in small confinements such as in a typical, commercial poultry farm. 

These chickens do not have the pleasure of wandering outside. Thus, they don’t get sunlight and wing-stretching sessions. 

Their diet is completely dependent on grains and poultry feeds as they don’t have the chance to peck and eat grass, worms, and insects beyond their cages. 

But staying inside also has its perks such as protection from predators and lesser exposure to pathogens from outside their housing.

However, diseases do easily spread in caged systems once an outbreak occurs.

Why is the difference between farm-raised and free-range chicken important?

Knowledge is power, even with things like how husbandry affects the quality of farm goods. 

Simply being familiar with the difference between chickens raised in unlike settings can already be a great help. 

With this, you can make an informed choice that fits your principles and preference when it comes to chicken products.

Indeed, being aware of how the food you eat is made and what effects on the product does it entail is a requirement of having a healthy lifestyle.

Which is healthier: farm-raised or free-range chicken?

We know you’re eager to know which one is the “better” chicken.

However, this is not an easy question to answer. This is because no existing organizations have actually and validly measured nutritional contents of free-range and farm-raised chickens.

But it’s good to take note that the flavor, nutritional value, and safety for consumption of chicken meat is primarily influenced by the food, medication, and hormone treatments that chickens receive.

Various environmental factors also give significant contributions to the chicken’s quality.  

All of these stands true for the eggs they lay as well. 

That said, consumers commonly perceive free-range chickens to be better than caged, farm-raised ones. 

This may be true in the sense that these roaming chicks have better space for physical activities. And this could properly develop their muscles and bones and produce leaner meat.

On the other hand, farm-raised chickens living an inactive lifestyle with a diet of grains their whole lives are expected to have richer but fattier meat.

Thus, if what’s healthy for your body is meat with less fat, opt for free-range raised chicken. 

But in terms of eggs, a study found out that those laid by farm-raised chickens are cleaner and more massive compared to eggs from free-range ones. 

Takeaway

Chicken is a great part or most people’s diet. 

Whether you eat chicken to satisfy your cravings or to fulfill your fitness goals, being knowledgeable about the difference between free-range and farm-raised ones will come in handy.

Make sure to check the labels when buying chicken and other products. This will save you from unwanted purchases and make your every penny count.

As a future doctor, providing relevant, interesting, and accurate health information is one of Julia's passion. Through her writing, she is pleased to share her knowledge on health, fitness, and nutrition to other people so that they may live a healthy, happy life.