The term free range is a SMT (special marketing term) which indicates that the product has been produced in compliance with the criteria set-out in the respective EU marketing regulations.
The minimum standards for poultry meat production are:
Stocking rate in the house is as follows:
Chickens = 13 birds but not more than 27.5 kg live weight per m²;
Age at slaughter must be:
Chickens = 56 days or later
In addition, the birds have had during at least half their lifetime continuous daytime access to open-air runs, comprising an area mainly covered by vegetation, of not less than 1m² per chicken
The feed formula used in the fattening stage contains at least 70% of cereals, and the poultry house must also be provided with pop holes of a combined length at least equal to 4 m per 100m² floor space of the house.
What is the difference between “free range”, “traditional free range” and “free range – total freedom” for poultrymeat?
- Free range: must comply with basic criteria described above.
- Traditional free range: more extensive open-air access, a lower stocking density, and a greater minimum age at slaughter.
- Free range – total freedom: birds must have unrestricted day-time open-air access.
It is interesting to note that chickens do not like the cold and getting wet.
So, although they have access to the outdoors,do they choose to go there in British winter conditions and on rainy days?
Is the indoor stocking density actually an important issue to consider over and above access to the outdoors?
If the chicken barns are smaller (ie flocks are smaller), is this an important issue to consider?
If the chickens have access to natural light (windows) in their barns, is this worth considering?