Organic lifestyle

Free Range Poultry – The Organic Way to a Healthy Meal


It is indeed gratifying to eat food that is grown in a healthy and non-polluting environment. To eat something that is free from pesticides and harmful, concentrated chemical compounds, feels safe and raises satisfaction levels. Safety, not just for me, but my kids, my family and friends. I just don’t want to feed my loved ones toxic food. Period!

A Safe Meal

In the context of poultry cultivation, many organic farming advocates have paid exclusive attention to the environment in which the chickens and other farm animals are raised. Birds, just like any other animal specie, need to own a natural behavior in stress-free environment. This means no cages, but spacious, airy zones. Why is this so important?

Birds reared in a stressful environment trigger high levels of cortisol which is bad for their health. Industrial scale Poultry production that does not pay attention to these factors, bring to the table not only unhealthy birds but chickens that are poisonous to our well-being. This doesn’t end with the birds, but forces us to eat stress-induced eggs as well.

50% of the eggs that the western nations consume are from caged bird systems that do not conform to free range practices. This is not just cruelty in its worst form but also suppresses the birds’ ability to express their natural behaviour and thrive in stress-free spaces. In fact the Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming has also confirmed that “Keeping chickens in cruel conditions produces a poorer product,”.

While traditional chickens had a productive lifespan to produce 320 eggs in four years, this time frame has been compressed to just 18 months to meet the growing market demand. Industrial approach to poultry farming, executed with hormone-induced growth promoters impacts both, the birds and our health!

India is the fifth largest broiler producer in the world. That is close to 2.47 million metric tonnes of broilers raised using commercial practices. And, this market is growing at the rate of 8 to 10 percent per annum.

Poultry farmers opting for free-range methods help put a natural, healthy, and rich meal on your table. Read on and discover the inside story of the journey of a healthy bird — farm to fork.

Eating Healthy, Eating Clean

Eating free-range is healthier and cleaner. This is also true for the eggs that you eat. They provide high nutritional value and great health.

One free-range chicken breast for instance, can supply around 52 percent of most people’s daily protein needs. Free-range chickens, unlike caged chickens, contain ⅓ less cholesterol, ¼ less saturated fat, ⅔ more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta-carotene. Can you beat that!?

Another fact that seldom attracts the attention of the farmer is the exposure of birds to natural sunlight. Unlike industrially produced poultry, free range poultry, keeps the birds healthier, exposing them to vitamin D and A. In absence of natural sunlight, Vitamin D levels drop drastically.

Free-range chicken are free from antibiotics and artificial hormone infusion. This helps the chickens and their eggs to grow naturally without resorting to using compounds that are not friendly for human consumption. A scientific study published in 2017 stated that “commercial chicken feed and commercial chicken meat, may be the potential cause of development of polycystic ovary syndrome in women due to steroid hormonal imbalance.”

In earlier times rearing chickens in the backyard and out in the open was a normal practice. Today, this way of rearing chickens no longer exists — birds have very little space to even move, let alone have the space to flap their wings! 80% of India’s egg production comes from hens that live their entire lifetime confined to cages the size of an A4 sheet of paper (just 8.27 × 11.69 inches of space!)

In the past, 200 to 500 chickens were produced per cycle. Today, every cycle produces anything between 5000 to 10,000 chickens. One report highlighted that increased egg production results in extremely painful conditions for chickens, such as uterine prolapse and skeletal deformities as the hen’s own calcium reserves are used up to produce the shell.

Knowing about these anomalies, it will be hard to imagine anyone enjoying his/her tandoori chicken anymore. Especially, when you are also aware about the easy availability of this toxic-rich food across all markets.

Organic and naturally reared chicken and eggs are always a treat to our taste-buds. A study published in the journal Poultry Science found that “the birds that had outdoor access and natural shelter had juicier, more tender and better textured meat. Researchers believe that the amount of exercise free-range chickens get on a daily basis helps develop their muscles, hence, better flavor and texture.”

It is really up to the Indian poultry farmer to provide a safe and healthy meal to his consumer. If farmers in countries like USA, Denmark, Argentina can achieve profitability by rearing chickens organically, then why not an Indian poultry farmer who had totally relied on organic ways of production for longer years than the rest of the world.


Raj Seelam

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