Forrest Pritchard

Forrest has been farming professionally since 1996. His new book Growing Tomorrow, Behind the Scenes with 18 Extraordinary Sustainable Farmers Who Are Changing the Way We Eat debuts August 2015 by the award-winning press The Experiment.

32 responses to “What is ‘Free-Range Chicken’?”

  1. Adam Burnside

    Loving the blog Forrest

  2. Molly Moses

    Can’t wait to read the book!

  3. Rose from WI

    Very informative even to someone who has been buying her eggs from her farmer for years. Hits all the right points.
    Thanks for working hard to preserve local, sustainable, and nutritious foods and getting up with the chickens to do so!
    Your blogs are well-written, and I, too, look forward to your book. Press on!

  4. Alice Boatwright

    Thanks! I enjoyed this article very much. I used to live in California, where my husband and I enjoyed Rocky Jr free-range chickens. (I think they really are. . . ). Now we live in France where we are almost invariably disappointed with the chicken — even when you pay a very high price for it. Just can’t figure that out. The French are so good about supporting small business. I guess more research would be a good thing.

  5. Sylvie in Rappahannock

    The “label rouge” chicken aren’t a breed, but label of quality defining how the bird is raised – on pasture, humanely, respecting the environement, limited number of chciken houses and sizes etc etc it is also tied to regional heritage breed and traditional regional method of production – so you have “label rouge” with defined geographical areas too .
    And yes, breeds raised in France (if they aren’t the factory-farm things…. which exists) are older breed, smaller, leaner animals with smaller breasts – much smaller than in the US – and they grow slower too…. They lend themselves better to stew and stove-top cooking than roasts. Sort of like a heritage turkey vs. Broad Breasted White….
    Anyway, here is an English-language doc on the label rouge program (from ATTRA)

  6. Sylvie in Rappahannock

    Forrest, yes I have seen both terms (although Freedom Rangers is too close to my taste to “freedom fries”, something that still makes me tick almost 10 years later – I guess French Rangers would not do… :)….
    Poulet Rouge seems to be the name American farms use for the Naked Neck breed when they follow the Label Rouge program guidelines. But yes, older breed that grows slowly, forage etc and are deeply flavorful

  7. James

    I laughed at your opening comment. The first house I lived in as a child was a renovated chicken house near Martinsburg. I guess I really did grow up in a chicken coop.

  8. judy

    Wonderfully interesting, and indeed a way of life that I respect. And covet! Living in cluster deed restricted housing isn’t good for me, how could coop-life be good for chickens? Thank you for the efforts you put into your 4,000 birds, and best wishes to your family and staff.

  9. Trying New Things | Herbs, Food & Health

    […] is a free range chicken, really, or should be at least. Read more about it. That is how I want my chicken. Share this: […]

  10. Beverly Walker

    My biggest predator threat here in the mountains of New Hampshire is starving black bears out of hibernation before there are any green things to eat, and in the fall before hibernation. This April, I lost 8 out of 11 laying chickens during a 6 day siege on my coop built into the corner of a long shed. The three remaining have PTSD and one doesn’t talk at all these days.

    I have since purchased electric poultry netting and hung several aluminum pie plates along the sides of the netting with honey on them. I’m told that a jolt on the bear’s tongue will really discourage it. I am also relieved of the worry from foxes and weasels as well. I will replace the flock with pullets and slowly merge the two groups together. The pullets can live in the old A-frame chicken tractor in a fenced area of their own until then.

    It gets very cold here (-30 some nights) in the winter so my coop must be as free of drafts as possible. I bring fresh water twice or three time a day. They don’t like to go out if there is snow on the ground but occasionally will if I put some shavings down on top of the pounded down snow. They stay warm at night hunkered together on the roost. I saw no signs of trouble with their feet or combs. Egg production was down, of course.

    I came to raising chicken very late in life (age 70) but felt compelled to do so nevertheless. I been studying permaculture and use the chickens in the fall to clean up and fertilize my garden.

    Thank you for sharing your life adventures through your book. It was a wonderful, informative read.


  11. Janelle

    Its just so heartwarming to know that you raise your chickens so humanely while sustaining the land. It pains me to see the conditions that farm animals are raised in our country. I will definely be out to buy your book and read very soon. Thank you for your hard work and giving us hope there are still humane practices in our world.

  12. Mob Grazing with Chickens | Smith Meadows

    […] 365 days a year, even in the snow. (I’ve written a comprehensive blog about how all this works HERE, along with an accompanying videos HERE and HERE.) From the stationary coop, there are access doors […]

  13. Brett

    So nice to see people doing the only type of farming that should exist. I grew up on the farm just as you did and really love the lifestyle. Have had to move to city to make money but plan in the next few months to build up my own free range chicken farm.. can’t wait to get back into nature!!

  14. zohaa

    Im doing a project about comparing the free-range and factory farmed chickens thanks for the useful info!

  15. Some More Egg-onomics « On Pasture

    […] (For more on how we do this, check out this article “Mob Grazing With Chickens” and this post on my blog.)  On our farm, true sustainability is found in our herbivores, the sheep and cattle. Our pigs, […]

  16. Jaclyn Snyder

    Loved the information you provided. I have been wanted to pasture raise chicken for awhile but everyone seems to think it impossible. I am so happy I found this sight. I am curious we only have about 3 acres of pasture to raise them on how many chickens are a healthy number to raise for both them and the ground? I so appreciate you sharing the way you farm it’s so encouraging!!

  17. Pitsi Senosha

    Thank you for the information. I want to try this, South African winter is not extreme, I am sure they will survive. i will start with a few hens for eggs.

  18. jane

    We have free range chickens (by their own doing!). They lay eggs here and there. Sometimes I find a clutch with 5 or 6 eggs. They are cold so I know the chicken is not setting them. My question is Are the eggs okay to eat even though I don’t know how long they have been sitting there?

  19. What to Feed Chickens

    Free range chickens eggs are way better than regular. Recently I have convinced myself to try them and from that point I only purchase eggs from a free range!

  20. Betty

    “…Feed them a little chicken feed…” how much, how often & what is in this feed?

  21. Dwight Eichorn

    From southern Michigan, and wondering if and how I could cost effectively keep my 250+ flock of laying hens warmer especially during the night in the winter. Was wondering about using a propane water heater and building their roosts with PVC pipe and running the warm/hot water through the pipes. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this idea. Dwight Eichorn

  22. felicitas njoroge

    from kaimbu kenya, planning on rearing freerange chicken. thank you for sharing your thoughts on the same

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