Confused About Pasture-Raised versus Free-Range Poultry?

A group of Pioneer chickens pecking in the grass.

Chicken is marketed with a wide variety of confusing claims, labels, and descriptions.

Take free-range and pasture-raised

These two descriptors invoke similar mental images but are in fact very different. Free-range tends to be the most misleading to consumers as it sounds positive but sets a very low bar for the farmers to meet.

Free-Range Poultry Defined

A free-range chicken has access to as little as 2 square feet of outdoor space. The USDA label requirements do not define the quality of the environment nor the amount of time, if any, the chickens spend outside. Most won’t spend one minute on pasture. Generally, these birds are crammed into barns, and won’t see the light of day. When you look further into the definition of free-range, you find the claim is useless.

Pasture-Raised Poultry Defined

A pasture-raised chicken is raised outdoors, spending its days pecking and foraging outside. These birds have daily access to pasture from 4 weeks of age, a minimum of 108 square feet of outdoor space per bird, a pasture maintained with a minimum of 50% vegetative cover, with shade and enrichments.

Exceeding the Pasture-Raised Standard

We go above and beyond the pasture-raised labeling requirements. In combination with Certified Humane and GAP Step 4, pasture-raised at Cooks Venture means a different breed of chicken. Our heirloom breed is slow-growing and develops healthier and happier on pasture. These birds forage for insects and grubs, dust bath, and perch all day long, every day; how chickens would naturally live.

Now you can feel empowered knowing the important differences between free-range and pasture-range and the difference at Cooks Venture. You already care about quality, taste, animal welfare, and now you have more information to make even the right food buying decisions for you and your family.


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