Is it fair to call them free range?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Delmar, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. Delmar

    Delmar Songster

    At night my birds stay in a fenced area about the size of a small city back yard, but during the day most of them go over the fence and make use of the rest of property. My wife's friend has chickens too, that are always in a chicken run. She told my wife we don't dare to advertise the eggs as free range because they have a fence around them, but the fence is only 4' high and only the oldest 4 stay inside it. Is it wrong for me to advertise the eggs as free range just because 4 birds don't leave the fenced area, even though they easily could?
  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    Are you asking from a moral or legal standpoint?

    Legally "free-range" chickens need only have "access to the outdoors" per the USDA. You are well within the legal definition of free-range.

    Morally? That's a lot murkier. Personally, unless all of your chickens are let out to roam freely without fences during the day I'm inclined to feel that they are not free-ranged. Others' opinions will vary.
  3. MommyMagpie

    MommyMagpie Songster

    Jul 29, 2011
    Salem/Jarvisville, WV
    To me, free range means not in a cage or coop except to roost/sleep/lay eggs. The folks who buy our eggs call them free range eggs, even though the area they forage is only about 32x40 feet, fenced. We are in the city and although I could probably let ours out of the fence and they would come home, I don't because I am trying to stay on the good side of my neighbors.....the eggs, they like; poop on their cars and porches, probably not so much.
  4. ChickieBooBoo

    ChickieBooBoo Cold Canadian Chick

    Dec 2, 2009
    Quote:x2 there are no fences around my coop, the birds could wander to Florida if they wanted.
  5. kizanne

    kizanne Songster

    Mar 28, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    Legally yes.

    Morally, I would say they are free range but.....

    Instead of labeling it for customers why not just put up a sign that explains your raising habits and let the customer decide.

    I sell just a few eggs to co-workers but instead of trying to put labels on it I just let them know.

    Mine are fed organic feed but also get a small amount of non-organic scratch.
    They get kitchen scraps.
    They have access to the outside 24/7 with an enclosed run
    They get about 2 hours a day to roam the yard (which doesn't have a fence but even if it did 1 acre is enough range for 11 chickens if you ask me.)
    I don't use antibiotics unless absolutely necessary like cocci when chicks (but after they catch it not as a preventative).
    I don't use hormones.
    I don't routinely give them any medication topical or internal unless they have something wrong that means they need it (to date none needed).

    Most my customers consider this organic, cage-free, free range, farm fresh eggs. However, it isn't if you go by the organic certificate I don't have. It isn't if free-range means 24/7. It isn't if 2 days old isn't 'fresh'; It isn't if a predator proof run is a cage. I leave it up to them if I have met their standards. Many of the labels like cage free doesn't mean what people would like anyway. commercial cage free eggs simply mean they can get off the nest. My chickens have a large area in and outside to roam but it certainly is a cage just a large one for their protection. They only range when I'm home, it's daylight and I can keep them out of the neighbors yard [​IMG]
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Olive Hill hit the legal definition. Not worth much, is it?

    So it becomes a personal decision. I don't worry about fences so much, although my fences are barbed wire. That won't even slow them down. To me it is more of do they forage for decent quality forage. I really would not consider a manicured lawn where all they have to eat is short grass that never goes to seed as truly free range, though if that is all you have, that is the best you can do and it is better than nothing. If they have access to different grasses and weeds, grass and weed seeds, can catch flying and hopping things, and scratch up some really disgusting vreepy crawlies, they are doing tremendous, whether there is a fence around them or not.

    So, legally, you can call them free range. Morally, your decision. Personally, I try to not use labels.
  7. hallerlake

    hallerlake Songster

    May 30, 2010
    What about "pastured"?
  8. UrbanFarmerGreg

    UrbanFarmerGreg Chirping

    Oct 11, 2011
    My opinion is a free range chicken can be fenced in as long as there is enough room for it to get a large part of its diet from foraging rather than just from chicken feed.
  9. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    If they can get out and most of them do, I'd think calling them free range is fine. They are free ranging outside your fence, lol.

    If they were all staying in a run, I don't think of that as free range.
  10. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    My chickens have unlimited space to roam. They never venture to far from there coop. I have one flock I let out & they never go more than 50 ft from their coop. Guess, they like their coop.

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