Organic vs free range during winter

by 30 · April 26, 2011 at 07:51 PM

Hi What about winter when the chickens don't get to go outside in some countries? Would both organic and free range eggs be the same then? Or are free range chickens given antibiotics?

And similarly for so called organic beef and other stuff. Without pastures to grass on, how is it much different from normal cows? In europe its not allowed to use growth hormones etc even for conventional farming.

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2 Replies

13583 · April 26, 2011 at 04:56 PM

Regarding beef, my grass-fed beef farmer will harvest his own grass to use as hay in the winter. The guy who processes the cows tells me the farmer has gotten pretty good at managing the grass/hay, and it's hard to tell the difference in meat harvested at different times of the year.

150 · April 26, 2011 at 07:51 PM

As I understand it, most egg producing chickens, including pastured chickens, are given at least some grain. Whether or not they are organic therefore depends on the feed, not the season. "Free range", as near as I can tell, is nearly meaningless and does not mean the chickens necessarily spend any substantial amount of time outside on pasture, although at the very least it ought to mean they aren't kept in cages all the time.

In the US, you have to check with each beef producer because there are no legal standards, but the farms I buy beef from only give hay in the winter, not grain -- so that is the difference between their beef vs. grain-finished.

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