Free Range and Pastured Poultry chickens and eggs
In the year 2008, 40% of all eggs bought by Australian consumers were 'Free Range', but the term 'Free Range' had no defined meaning at that time. Some, like the RSPCA, were advocating that 'Free Range' should refer to less than 1,500 chickens a hectare, others including Coles and Woolworths were calling for a definition of 10,000 birds a hectare (1 bird per square metre) or even more. With all this confusion the big losers were the consumers, buying a product with a name that really didn't mean anything.
Eight years later...
After 8 long years of consulting the State and Territory Government's came to a consensus and chose to have the term 'free range' mean 'up to 10,000 birds per hectare' definition.
At the time this was seen as good news for both the consumer and the farmer, a clear definition that we could all understand. The two groups who felt disadvantaged by this decision were the RSPCA and the chicken farmers who are committed to keeping chicken density below 1,500 per hectare. You could say they are the two groups who care more about the chicken's welfare than the number of eggs they can produce in a day.
So a new term is beginning to emerge, Pastured Poultry, and again it is a term with no clear definition, but generally refers to farms where the chicken density is less than 1,500 per hectare (6.7 square metres per bird). At this density the paddock's grass covering remains and the chickens have pasture to eat and forage through.
The link to Landlines - Pastured Eggs story is below:
The ABC show Landline recently ran a short piece on this very subject, click HERE for the video, it shows both the 10,000 per hectare and 1,500 per hectare farming practices.
At the end of the day, the law is the law and 'Free Range' is what it is in Australia and 'Pastured Poultry' will be around for some time to come and will probably be seen in a supermarket near you.
- What do you think? Free Range? 10,000 chooks? 1,500? Pastured Poultry?
- What do you put first, the chicken or the egg?
PS. At BurraBee Farm we have 100 chickens on 16 hectares, that's about 160 square metres for each chicken!!!
To experience some of the best eggs in Australia, you can order on line (use the link below) or you can see us at the Farmers and Foodies Market on Friday between 3pm and 7pm at the Old Bus Depot.