The term "free range" on chicken packaging can be misleading because it is not regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). This means that companies can use the term "free range" on their packaging even if the chickens are only given limited access to the outdoors or have no access at all.
In order for a chicken to be considered truly "free range," it must have continuous access to the outdoors. However, there are no specific requirements for the size or quality of the outdoor space, so it is possible for a chicken to be considered "free range" even if it has very limited access to the outdoors. It is important to do your own research and ask questions about how the chickens were raised if you are concerned about their living conditions.
Pasture-raised chickens, like those raised at Wormuth Farm, are generally considered to be a higher-quality and more humane option than free-range chickens. This is because pasture-raised chickens are raised in a way that allows them to roam freely and forage for their food on a grassy pasture, rather than being confined to a barn or coop. This can provide a number of benefits for the chickens and the resulting meat and eggs.
Pasture-raised chickens are often healthier and more active than those that are raised in confinement, as they are able to engage in natural behaviors such as scratching and pecking. This can lead to healthier, more flavorful meat and eggs. In addition, pasture-raised chickens are exposed to a variety of plants and insects, which can result in eggs with higher levels of nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.
In terms of animal welfare, pasture-raised chickens generally have a higher quality of life than those raised in confinement. They are able to engage in natural behaviors and are not confined to a small space, which can lead to better physical and mental health. Pasture-raised chickens may also be treated with fewer antibiotics, as they are typically healthier and have a lower risk of disease.
Overall, pasture-raised chickens are generally considered to be a more sustainable and humane option, and their meat and eggs are often of a higher quality.