According to the SA Poultry Association Code of Practice 2000, free-range chickens must have access to a grassy area, need to be fed a nutritious diet, get at least eight hours of darkness to sleep and there should not be more than 15 chickens every square meter – these are all humane approaches; but what about the chemicals?
Laying hens don’t get hormones, but free-range chickens are often pumped full of hormones through their water intake – and this needs to be monitored.
In SA there are hardly any restrictions that prevent farmers from feeding free-range chickens GMO (genetically modified) corn, hormones and antibiotics. And even though these birds are not raised in cages, the ingredients in the free-range meat can be much the same as in that of battery meat – the only way to know what you are getting is to pay the farm a personal visit, and ask questions and observe.
Source from a farm that treats their hens like queens! For chickens being truly free-range there has to be a variety of leaves and grass and insects for the hens to feed on. The hens need to roam freely and at night they come home to roost on their own.
Free-range however, is not limited to chickens – in SA alone, there are in the region of 2, 1 million breeding sows that are imprisoned in metal cages which is no different to hens being raised in batteries!
Because chicken in the primary source of protein in SA one would presume that the quality of the meat would be of national importance, but this is not always the case. Eighteen million birds are killed each year for their meat and are bred for speedy revenue – in other words, these are battery hens which are kept under cruel conditions in shoe box-sized cages and fed GMO grain growth hormones and antibiotics.
Free-range might be more humane for the birds, but it is not essentially a healthier option for consumers as claimed, unless you are in the know about the source.
Food4Four sources the best available choices for farm to table and always try for free range and best practices– chicken is only one of the ingredients we go the extra mile to ensure you are getting only the very best.