PASTURE RAISED VS. CAGE FREE
THE STORY OF AN EGG
The idea of a “cage free” egg seems compelling enough. It means an egg from a chicken that’s not in a cage. But what’s really behind the meaning of this term, or “free range” or even “pasture raised”. Alexis Koefoed of Soul Food Farm hopes consumers can learn to distinguish between such terms as “cage free”, “free range”, and “pasture raised” when they go to their local supermarket.
April 23, 2008
PASTURE RAISED VS. CAGE FREE
Alexis prefers to say that her chickens are “pastured” instead of “free range” because there is imprecision used to describe how chickens are raised. The term “cage free”, for example, could be used to mean poultry raised indoors with little or no access to the outdoors.
OTHER RELATED TERMS
Chickens that are not kept in cages. This means chickens are still confined to a barn with limited or no access to outside. The term “barn-roaming” more accurately describes this principle.
Outside the United States this term refers to a method of farming where the animals are allowed to roam freely rather than being contained in any manner. In the United States, USDA regulations apply only to poultry and indicate solely that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. These regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time the animal must be allowed access to this space.
Animals that have been raised on pasture with access to shelter. This term is being used by farmers who wish to distinguish themselves from the industrialized “free-range” term.
Buildings with little ventilation that serve as concentrated feed lots capable of holding up to ten thousand chickens at a time.
Livestock which was raised without the use of growth promtants, antibiotics, under these certified animals are allowed to have parasitic medicine, but not given food with animal byproducts to eat.
Industrial agriculture’s confinement system used for egg-laying hens. Floor space for battery cages ranges from 300 cm² per bird and up; the space allocated to battery hens has often been described as less than the size of a piece of paper. A typical cage is about the size of a filing cabinet drawer and holds from 8 to 10 hens. Animal welfare scientists have criticized battery cages because they do not provide hens with sufficient space to stand, walk, flap their wings, perch, or make a nest. It is estimated that over 60% of the world’s eggs are produced in such industrial systems.
ADDITIONAL TEXT TAKEN FROM THE PHOTOGRAPH
Alexis treats her chickens with love and a real respect for the gifts they give with their delicious eggs and meat. They are raised humanely and given all the room they need outside to be what they really are, and in return give us the best of what they are.
The chickens eat grass and bugs and chicken food (and predators like red tail hawks, black birds and coyotes eat them).
ABOUT ALEXIS KOEFOED
When Alexis Koefoed and her husband bought the land that became Soul Food Farm in the late 1990s, she had the idea to start a modest chicken farm. In the intervening years she’s taken on a full-spectrum approach to the poultry business: she is deeply involved in issues of community land use, worker’s rights and the humane treatment of animals. Soul Food Farm raises pastured chickens for both eggs and meat and is driven by the belief that “You are what you eat…and what you eat, eats.”
ADDITIONAL WEBSITES OF INTEREST
Soul Food Farm
How to Buy Organic Eggs: Pastured vs. Free Range Eggs
Buy Pastured Eggs and Chicken, Not “Free Range” (from Change.org)