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What is the difference between free range and cage-free poultry?

Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
The term free range applies to poultry and means that the chickens or turkeys have access to the outdoors. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website, free range means that "producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside." They are not required to have access to actual pasture; "free range" simply means access to the outdoors. In other words, a little concrete outdoor area is sufficient. There are no specifications for when the animals get outside or for how long. In fact, you can't even be sure that they actually made it to the outside area provided. In many cases, free range means that there is a small door at the end of a barn that the birds can go through to get outside if they choose. If there's nothing out there for them -- no dirt, no grubs, no grasses, no shelter -- the chance that they actually go out is slim.

While free-range is a term that is legally defined by the USDA, "cage free" is not formally defined. Cage free typically means that the birds aren't kept in wildly overcrowded, stacked cages. It doesn't mean that they are roaming about freely outdoors, or even that they have access to the outdoors, and it doesn't say anything about how many birds are together. It simply means that they aren't kept in cages.
Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

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Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

Eat Naked with Margaret Floyd for a Sexier You Are you fed up with counting calories? Confused by all the diet hype? Want to eat delicious, real food and look and feel great? Leading...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.