These are two videos produced by the Wall Street Journal that compare a totally free range chicken farm in Otaika Valley in New Zealand with a caged chicken farm in an undisclosed location. Caged chickens are kept in dimly lit buildings and separated into manageable groups by wire fences. Free range chickens get to go outside for most of the day.
One of the first things that you will notice about the two chicken farming methods is the noise the chickens make. The free-range chickens are noisier and sound happier. The caged birds make noise but not as much.
The most dramatic difference between the two types of chicken farming is the way the chickens look. The caged birds are kept in dim light and have fewer feathers than the birds that get to go out into the sun. The video of the caged chickens shows several birds that are diseased and cannot stand up. Those birds are destroyed to prevent the spread of disease in close quarters.
One of the most telling differences between the two methods of raising chickens is the response of one of the workers in the caged chicken farm. The man is none too happy about having to break the necks of defective birds. He claims it is a humane process but notes that the organizations that lobby for the caged chicken industry are the same organizations that set the rules for what is humane.
The free-range chickens look healthier. A possible conclusion would be that chickens raised in this manner produce more eggs that are healthier. The birds just seem to be bursting with energy and vitality when they leave the coop for the day compared to the caged chickens.
The Chinese are credited with being the first people to domesticate wild chickens. Chickens have been a part of human life for more than 9,000 years. Keeping chickens in closed quarters makes it easier to collect eggs and protect the chickens. The present caged chicken farming method is harsh and strangely gruesome. One cannot help but think the eggs and birds are not good to eat.
Free-range chickens normally return to the coop before sunset. The eggs may be a bit more difficult to find but the free-range is definitely a more humane and natural way to farm chickens and eggs. The idea is to promote free-range chicken eggs. The comparison of the two videos does make the impression that free-range is healthier for the birds and the humans that eat the eggs.