Free-range poultry are usually fed grains, which are not the natural food of hens/chickens. Hens/chickens are omnivores, and naturally eat seeds, insects, and grubs. They can also consume small lizards, mice, and frogs.
Healthy eggs and meat come from poultry that were able to eat green plants, seeds and bugs, and exposed to sunlight.
Thus, if you buy “free-range” make sure your farmer or supplier does it the true “pastured” free range way. That is, the hens/chickens have actual time outside eating grass and grubs, and exposed to sunlight and fresh air. The best ones we have found are those hens that are housed in mobile structures so you can move the houses around and give the hens constant and easy access to vegetable and bugs.
Pasture raised poultry mean the hens/chickens actually stay outside. They are able to eat bugs and vegetation. These hens/chickens eat seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. The chickens and eggs laid tend to be more nutritious because these chickens have exposure to sunlight, which their bodies convert to Vitamin D, and pass it on to their eggs. Eggs from pastured-hens have three to six times more vitamin D than eggs from hens raised in confinement.
Indigenous and Pasture-raised
Red Barn poultry and eggs are free range and pasture-raised. The reason why we choose Boschveld chickens for eggs is because this indigenous breed cannot be confined. By nature, they cannot be placed inside cages as they are wild animals. They also cannot be kept together in enclosed quarters, as they fight other chickens/hens and have a tendency to fly.
These chickens/hens have to be placed outdoors, given full access to vegetables and grubs, and be under sunshine.
We have made several comparisons of indigenous pasture fed v. free-range v. commercial eggs and have seen a big difference in taste, color and consistency.
New test results show that pastured egg producers are kicking the commercial industry’s derriere when it comes to vitamin D! Eggs from hens raised on pasture show 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket egg.