"Free Range" vs. Free Range

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Peepthis541, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. Peepthis541

    Peepthis541 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 25, 2008
    Eugene, OR
    I wonder, if I were allowed to roam outside of my bedroom, but not allowed to leave my house, would you consider me a Free Range Human?

    My point is, what exactly is "free"? Has anyone read the book Omnivore's Dilemma by Micheal Pollan?

    In parts of the book, he investigates the industry standards in livestock agriculture, conventional, organic, free-range, etc. I thought it was interesting what he discovered about free-range meat chickens. The USDA standard for free-range was to allow chickens access to the outside, but only necessary at a certain time of their lives, which happened to be only a couple weeks before slaughter, if I remember correctly. During their youngest stages, access to an outside yard was not required. But by the time they reached an age where they should be allowed access, they were already conditioned to a life indoors. Basically, what free-range means in high output agriculture, is a small open door to a yard that is barely used by chickens who probably find the concept of venturing out to that unknown as scary.
    But it gets the stamp, and the higher price tag. Interesting, huh?

    Anyway, I just saw a thread about how much to charge for organic free-range eggs, and it made me think of that book. I think Omnivore's Dilemma is a wonderful book if you are interested in educating yourself on the practices of the food industry. There are some painful truths to be learned, so be warned if you are the blissfully ignorant type. [​IMG] But I gather that most people on these forums are into being somewhat informed consumers.
     
  2. EliteTempleton

    EliteTempleton Chillin' With My Peeps

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    SW MI
    I donno, are you Martha Stewart or Joe the Plumber? [​IMG]
     
  3. glassparman

    glassparman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 23, 2008
    Mojave, CA
    Thus the reason I started raising my own chickens. I like chicken (food), I like eggs, I like animals, so why not watch them run around free as a "bird"?

    I only wish I could go to those big caged up places and set them all free!!!!!

    I could be the pied-piper of chicken-ville and get them to all follow me home.


    On the serious side, it is a shame how they use all those terms loosley when they stamp the eggs.

    Even the term "organic" is mis-used to a great extent.
     
  4. menageriemama

    menageriemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 2, 2008
    Lake Nebagamon, WI
    Read the book, loved it. Its one of the reasons I decided to raise my own meat birds this year.

    I think we can expect more of this sort of thing as agribusiness tries to get its big stinky toes into the "organic" food movement.
     
  5. Anny

    Anny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2008
    Detroit Michigan
    I've read that book and I love it.

    To me personally to be honestly and truely FREE range the chickens would not have any cage at all, no fencing nothing. They would roam the fields or what not. My own personal chicken by that definition would not be free range. Since they are contained in a large dog run. (giving each hen about 15 square feet of out side space) Which by all means is a lot better then the industry standards for "free range"
     
  6. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

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    Hey Glasspar, welcome to BYC! Are there a lot of predators up by you? I used to live with my aunt in Lucerne Valley for a few months (a long time ago) and she had some polish chickens and they took quite a beating predator wise, including from her dogs, snakes, coyotes, cats, you name it. They seemed to do okay in the wild weather swings. I think it would be like D day in WWII to free range up in your area.
     
  7. Peepthis541

    Peepthis541 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 25, 2008
    Eugene, OR
    Quote:Actually, you can. But they call that terrorism! [​IMG]

    Seriously, the best actuation of that kind of terrorism, in its most legal and American form is to simply not buy/support those kinds of industries, which I believe most people on these forums (at least with respect to eggs) are not doing.
    And fortunately, these kinds of forums are a great way to trade information and make more educated decisions.

    It's like, revolutionary, man! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2008
  8. Peepthis541

    Peepthis541 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eugene, OR
    Quote:I guess something has to be said for the idea of fence not keeping chickens IN, but keeping predators OUT. The "truly" free range we animal lovers would like to fantasize about would probably just mean open season for hawks, snakes, foxes, raccoons, possums, you name it!
     
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Quote:I guess something has to be said for the idea of fence not keeping chickens IN, but keeping predators OUT. The "truly" free range we animal lovers would like to fantasize about would probably just mean open season for hawks, snakes, foxes, raccoons, possums, you name it!

    Fences and cages were first intended to keep them safe. It has gotten far in some places. Letting them free would be disaster if they grew up confined with no one to show them the ropes so to say. There was a mink farm that was let free once. Dead minks everywhere, and many small poultry decimated due to starving non acclimated minks.

    That said, mine don't have fences at all and do risk the preds which some have succumb to. Change from the bottom up! Do what you can yourself and for others before trying to throw things over from the top.
     
  10. AngieChick

    AngieChick Poultry Elitist

    A good friend of mine lives in Alpine (between Eugene and Corvallis) and truly free ranges her birds. She has acreage with coverage for them, and 3 dogs for protection. She has lost a bird here and there (once she lost one to her own dog), but overall they have done fine. There are also a couple of Alpaca that help with guard duty. I feel like if I left my birds out in the yard all day, they wouldn't last a week even though I am in the city. The birds would be trapped in the back yard with nowhere to go when a raccoon or opossum showed up. So, our happy medium is a generous covered run and at least an hour of supervised play time a day out in the yard. The chickens seem quite happy.

    I would love to see better clarification/regulation on what is defined as "free-range" on egg cartons. The industry plays off of the general consumer's ignorance of what the industry definition means (they imagine a lovely, pastoral scene with chickens running amock on a field in the sunset). Even my chickens I wouldn't classify as free-range.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2008

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