This week includes my post on the definition of 'heritage chicken.' There are a lot of terms applied to poultry that lack legal definition in the marketplace. As a result, less scrupulous marketers use them to mean almost anything. 'Heritage' is one of those words. 'Organic’ is strictly defined, by the standards of the National Organic Program.
Other terms, such as ‘natural’ and ‘free range,’ are less precisely defined. Generally, ‘natural’ means that artificial ingredients or coloring have not been added or injected into the bird at the processing plant. ‘Free range’ or ‘free roaming’ means that the birds have access to the outdoors. ‘Cage-free’ means the birds are not confined to cages but grouped together in an enclosure. There may be thousands of chickens crowded under a single roof that are technically cage-free.
‘Free range’ chickens may have access to the outdoors, but it may be bare ground that doesn’t offer shade or interesting things to scratch for. Chickens may not bother going outside. Chickens enjoy foraging for part of their diet by scratching for seeds and bugs.
The best way to know exactly what each of those terms means for the chickens you buy is to know the farmer.
Thanks, Whole Home News, for offering helpful information to your readers.