It seems that "someone" is trying to prove that free range chickens are no better or possibly worse than caged chickens.

Ok, here is an excerpt from an article I read today, the link to the full story can be found at the end of this article:

In an effort to eat compassionately, many people choose free-range chickens and eggs — assuming that the birds lived happy, high-quality lives before they became dinner. A free-range label, however, doesn’t guarantee your poultry had a worry-free existence.

Swedish researchers have discovered that, if farmers aren’t extremely careful, bacterial infections like E. coli can run rampant through free-range chicken flocks. The finding raises questions about what’s best for both animals and people.

This is what they call "free range"

That sounds pretty ominous, why do you suppose that is? Here is another excerpt:

Most Swedish farmers made the switch from cages to litter-based housing between 2001 and 2004. Around the same time, more dead hens started showing up at the Institute.

To further investigate, veterinary pathologist Oddvar Fossum and colleagues analyzed the necropsies of 914 hens from 172 flocks. The researchers found that as many as 10 times more hens were submitted from litter-based and free-range setups than from caged systems during those years.

Compared to caged birds, free-ranging hens had more bacterial infections (the most common cause of death), more parasites, and more viruses. They were also more likely to become victims of violent pecking and cannibalistic attacks, the scientists reported this month in BioMed Central’s open access journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica.


Again, this is considered "free range"

This sounds like something horrible, why not just go back to caged chickens that never see the light of day, never touch the ground, never breath fresh air…surely this is the better way.

Wait, this is better...



Flock size was part of the problem, Fossum said. Cages held a maximum of 10 birds. But free-range flocks sometimes contained as many as 35,000 chickens. Even though these chickens had the freedom to hop outside and roll in the dirt, they were more likely to bump into each other, fight, and share diseases.


Ahhh, now this may be the problem, you think? Any time you have mega huge numbers of animals living together (as nature NEVER intended), you WILL have problems, disease, parasites, bacterial infections, excess aggression..


Nutritionally, Porter added, free-range eggs and meat are virtually identical to the same products from caged chickens.


Well, what are these so called free range chickens eating? Are they getting a healthy and natural nutritional mix of foods, or are they getting chemical and hormone laden food? This is why it is better to have smaller flocks, allow them to free range, feed them quality food, let them scratch in the dirt, let them feel the sun, raised by a farmer who knows his/her chickens. A small farmer or individual who is raising a reasonable number of chickens gets to know their chickens and knows when they are getting sick, or needs some extra attention.

How dare they say that free range is bad, how dare they say that their way is better. Can you tell that I’m ticked off about this?

I know that not everyone can raise chickens, but there are many people in cities as well as suburban areas who would like to have a few chickens running around in the back yard. Unfortunately too many cities and suburbs have laws prohibiting people from having livestock of any sort. Some cities are allowing people to have chickens, usually hens only, no roosters. If enough people get together and go before their council, I believe this issue would become a non-issue. Let’s take back our backyards and stop buying chicken and eggs from the big companies who sponsor studies that tell us that free range chicken is bad. I just wonder who sponsored this story? Who benefits from this?

All I have to say is Duh! Now, this is the way chickens aught to live… Now, this IS free range.

Go here to read the whole article:

EDIT Feb 2, 08
I know that there are many compassionate farmers, both large and small, who do take proper care of the animals in their charge. This message does not refer to them. I am talking about those in the industry (both large and small) who do not properly take care of their animals no matter what the reason, whether they just get too big (too many animals to take care of), or just don’t care about anything BUT the bottom line at the expense of the animals. I commend those who do take proper care of their animals.

I am not a tree hugging, vegetarian, save the whale (or whatever animal is in vogue right now) activist who wants to shut down all meateries, not that there’s anything wrong with that :)

I eat meat and do not apologize for it. I just want people to understand where their food comes from.

It has also been brought to my attention that the government does not allow hormones to be given to chickens, so I’ll add that here as well, I don’t know if they are allowed or not allowed to give hormones, but I’ll include that statement.


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