By Leon Pein: Founder of Biblical Foods
The term ‘free range’ chicken frequently means nothing like what the Great British public thinks it means.
Most people envisage happy and healthy chickens running free on open pasture.
This may be completely incorrect, in many cases, and the conditions may be similar, or virtually the same, as “factory-farming” (i.e. Overcrowding, debeaking, antibiotic consumption).
‘Free range’ means birds must have ‘access to the outside’. This can mean almost nothing in practice. There could be as many as 10,000 birds in a shed. Very few, perhaps none, will venture outside, because :-
a) All food and water is inside the shed, potential predators are outside the shed (which way would you go?)
b) The escape holes to the outside are few, and are often guarded by dominant birds who prevent entry/exit
c) Many chickens are unable to walk easily – their legs cannot take their body weight
d) The chickens are scientifically bred to pack on as much weight as possible, in the shortest possible time, and so are more interested in eating than exercising.
Therefore, people may well be being over-charged for “free range” birds.
The public deserves a much better and clearer definition.