Free Range animals are better, right? Not necessarily.

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Not necessarily. Free range can have a lot of benefits such as insect control, adding organic matter back to the soil. But when it comes to healthier, Iowa State University researched the protein composition of free range and organic broilers. According to their research, protein was slightly higher in the free range birds. However, the increase wasn’t significant.

“Although polyunsaturated fatty acid composition was significantly higher for organic broilers; meat yields, proximate composition, and sensory qualities, in practical terms, did not show differences. Therefore, consumers are basing purchase decisions on more than the quantitative and qualitative attributes evaluated in this study, and are probably including intangible values related to the different production systems as perceived by individual consumers.”

There can be additional risks with free range birds, including higher susceptibility to diseases transferred by wild birds and migratory waterfowl. Additionally, free range birds often carry more bacteria, leading to an increase in pathogens that have potential to cause foodborne illnesses. The same can be said for pigs raised free range. Pigs that graze in the open are often exposed to more bacteria, a vehicle for foodborne illnesses.