Chicken Fact: No chicken you buy is raised in a cage.
What’s the easiest way to shop for cage-free chicken? Look no further than the poultry aisle of any grocery store. No chicken sold in any store has been raised in a cage.
Anytime you buy or eat chicken, you can guarantee that it has not been raised in a cage.
If not cages, where do chickens live?
Chickens raised for meat live in large houses, called grow-out houses, where they have the ability to eat, drink, rest and move around freely. Welfare guidelines require that chickens have enough space to move around and express normal behaviors.
Generally, a flock of broiler chickens consists of 20,000 – 25,000 birds in a chicken house that measures 400 feet long and 40 feet wide. As the birds age, they grow into this space.
These shelters also provide security from extreme weather, predators, insects and the possible introduction of diseases.
Not only are chickens able to roam freely, but they are also consistently monitored by both licensed veterinarians and farmers to ensure their health and safety.
So why are some products labeled cage-free or free-range?
It is up to the producers about what marketing messaging they want to include on their packaging, which is why some products have “cage-free” or “free range” labels. But rest assured, this does not mean that other chicken on the shelves were raised in cages.
What are other commons chicken labeling terms? Check out our Roost Roster for a glossary of chicken meat and food label terminology.
Want to learn more about how chickens spend their time on the farm? Check out our Day in the Life series to see all aspects of the bird’s lives on the farm.