Three images of free range chickens

The Free Ranger: Improving Meat Chicken Welfare on the Range

Here at RSPCA Approved, one of the ways we create change and improvements within farming industries is by working closely with producers to ensure better animal welfare on farm –  whether the animals are housed in an enriched barn, or have access to an inviting outdoor area. Brands such as The Free Ranger have a strong commitment to higher-welfare farming practices, offering conscientious consumers a variety of free-range RSPCA Approved chicken products. 

The Free Ranger chicken is from farms where the meat chickens have access to an outdoor range, with shade to protect them from the elements, and space to explore during the day. At night these birds have shelter and protection inside a large, enriched barn, with more space to move, perch, dustbathe and forage than legally required. Even though it’s not the easiest way, The Free Ranger farmers believe passionately in raising their birds to a higher-welfare standard

Having access to an outdoor range alone doesn’t always equal better welfare. Even on free-range farms, the birds will spend most of their lives indoors in the safety of shelter and other meat chickens, away from potential predators or adverse weather. While having an inviting outdoor area provides benefits of a potentially more stimulating environment to experience and roam, to ensure the birds feel safe when outdoors it is essential to also have adequate protection such as a veranda, trees, bushes or shrubs for shelter and forage vegetation to make the area more comfortable for them. Ensuring a better quality of life for meat chickens means ongoing improvements for both indoor and free-range production.   

The RSPCA Approved standards exist solely to improve farm animal welfare, are detailed and science backed, focusing on providing a better quality of life for farmed animals. These standards are reviewed around every five years to keep up with current science and innovation, industry practices and of course, ongoing improvement. Crucially, they provide opportunities for animals to express natural behaviours. Producers who are certified by RSPCA Approved undergo regular, rigorous assessments by specially trained assessors, and because a humane death is also important, abattoirs are assessed annually.  

It’s thanks to brands such as The Free Ranger that free-range RSPCA Approved chicken is readily available in supermarkets across Australia. Consumers have the option to choose poultry raised with better welfare as a priority, allowing them to align their values with their purchasing decisions, and in turn showing producers better welfare on farm is important to the community. The presence of readily available higher-welfare chicken products reflects a positive shift in the meat chicken industry towards welfare-conscious farming in Australia.  

Interested in reading more? 
Ingham’s committed to meat chicken welfare 
Dedication and Teamwork Ensuring a Robust Certification 

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