The Top 5 Benefits of Pasture Raised Chicken
If it was up to us, all chicken would be pasture raised. When you compare the practice of raising animals on pasture to the factory farmed alternative, there’s really no competition. Raising animals on pasture is better for the animals, it’s better for the environment, and it’s better for the consumer. It’s part of the practice of regenerative agriculture, which used to just be called “farming”. Unfortunately, this age-old way of farming has been replaced over the last couple of generations as industrial agriculture took center stage, allowing for faster and cheaper output - along with environmental devastation and cruel factory farming practices. Luckily, a growing number of today’s farmers are recognizing the benefits of returning to these ancient practices and are following regenerative agriculture methods, including raising animals on pasture.
These farming initiatives have many benefits for the consumer as well. While we promote all facets of regenerative agriculture, obviously our main focus is raising animals on pasture. In this post, we’ll discuss the top 5 benefits of pasture raised chicken, and why you should support it.
- Animal Welfare is Top Priority When Raising Chickens on Pasture
It may sound strange, but even though our chickens eventually become food, their welfare is at the forefront of our operation. We believe that following a paleo diet leads to better health, and a paleo diet naturally contains lots of meat. Because of this, it’s important to us that the meat we eat be as nutritious as possible and raised in the most ethical way possible.
Factory farmed chickens are packed together tightly, sometimes thousands of animals in one building, and rarely if ever see the light of day or fresh air and sunshine. That’s just no way for an animal to live, and we can’t feel good about consuming meat that has been raised that way. That’s why we started Pasturebird. We became very disillusioned with the choices in our local supermarkets, and realized that if we wanted to ensure that the meat we eat is ethically produced and nutritious, we’d better raise it ourselves!
Our pasture raised chickens live outside 24/7/365, and are constantly provided access to sunlight, fresh air, and allowed to move around and forage as chickens were meant to do. They live in a floorless mobile coop that allows them to live (almost) as chickens were meant to, and protects them from predators and inclement weather.
Unlike the genetically-modified feed fed to most factory farmed chickens, our pasture raised chickens are fed a primary diet of balanced, non-GMO chicken feed, which is supplemented by a foraged diet rich in insects, worms, legumes, and seeds.
2) Pasture Raised Chicken is Better for the Environment
There’s a reason gardeners use manure to enrich their soil. When animals graze on pasture, their diet is rich in nutrient-dense food which provides ample vitamins and minerals to their diet. The resulting manure is equally rich in those same vitamins and minerals as well as beneficial microorganisms, and allowing it to be worked back into the land is nature’s fertilizer. We often say that regenerative agriculture goes beyond sustainability - rather than just attempting to conserve the land and resources, we aim to leave it better than we found it. The practice of raising chickens on pasture actually revitalizes the land, rather than depleting it. While we’re obviously running a business as well as a farm, and the bottom line is important to us, it’s not as important as making sure that we don’t destroy our farmland in the process.
In fact, if you follow us on social media you’ve likely seen the photos of our California farmland when we first purchased it, compared to today. The dry, barren land we started with has been replaced by rich, fertile grassland - a testament to the benefits and possibilities of regenerative agriculture.
3) Pasture Raised Chicken is Better for You!
Because of the birds’ nutrient dense diet, pasture raised chicken contains noticeably higher rates of vitamins and minerals, beneficial fats, and amino acids. Pasturebird chicken in particular has been proven to be 3 times as high in omega-3s, 50 percent higher in vitamins A, D, and E, and 21 percent lower in saturated fat than factory farmed chicken. It also contains higher amounts of amino acids, including glutathione, which helps to reduce inflammation, aid in detoxification, and increase energy. While many take glutathione in supplement form due to its numerous health benefits, we think it’s always better to obtain nutrients from whole-food sources rather than in pill or powder form. Our Pasturebird chicken has six times the glutathione of regular chicken, even chicken that is free range and organic.
Aside from its nutrient density, our birds’ healthy lifestyle means that we don’t need to keep them pumped full of antibiotics to ward off the illness and infection that’s so prevalent in factory farm settings. In fact, our chickens are totally antibiotic free! Instead, we rely on fresh air, sunshine, daily movement, and a wholesome diet to keep our chickens healthy.
4) Pasture Raised is a Label You Can Trust - Really!
You’ve probably noticed that your local grocery stores are full of products labeled “all natural”, “free range” and “organic”, but have you ever looked into what those labels actually mean? There is little to no oversight when it comes to the labeling of food.
For example, did you know that to be labeled “free range”, chickens must be given continuous access to the outdoors during their lifetime - but that to legally comply with this provision, a farmer can simply place a small door in the barn that leads to a fenced-in concrete slab? The chickens technically have “access” to the outdoors, but they still may never see fresh air or sunshine in their lifetime. They’re not able to roam free or forage, despite the misleading label.
Pasture raised chickens, on the other hand, must be given a minimum of 108 square feet of space per bird. While this may not sound like much to a human, it’s quite spacious for a bird! Our chickens are raised in a floorless mobile coop that protects them from predators and inclement weather while giving them constant access to fresh air, sunshine, and a steady diet of bugs, worms, legumes, and seeds.
5) Raising Chickens on Pasture is Ethical Farming
No matter whether you’re looking at it from an animal welfare perspective or an environmental one, raising animals on pasture is just a better way of farming! The truth is, industrial farming practices have wreaked havoc on environmental stewardship and animal welfare, but farmers that focus on regenerative agriculture practices are trying to shift that pendulum back to a time when farming was done in tandem with the land and animals, not in spite of them.
Raising animals on pasture is ethical farming, and it leads to ethical consumerism too. When you purchase your meat from a company like Pasturebird that focuses on the ethics and the transparency of farming, you can feel good about your choice and know that you’re doing what’s best for your health, the planet’s health, and the health of the animals that become your nourishment.