Like beef, chicken is commonly pumped full of hormones like estrogen to enhance the size of the breast meat.
so what should you do? First check out this primer on Eating Wild, where Jo Robinson will tell you all about the health benefits of eating more wild meats.
Even though these animals are domesticated and cultivated, the amount of omega-3s, which are very important to humans outweigh the omega-6s by a lot. The prevalence of omega-6 in our grain-based food today is what causes all the diseases of civilization: acne, cancer, mental illness.
By eating pastured chicken and cage free chicken eggs, you are helping yourself by ingesting these meats from a stress free animal. And you are saving countless animals from the brutality of cage life.
Let us talk about what kind of things are fed to chickens:
In the upper midwest it is common to feed a mash to animals consisting of foods that are to be thrown away.
Things like candy (with the wrappers on), bakery waste (stale bread, pastry products with wrappers), potato waste and grocery waste are fed to chickens, pasta and other starches are common too.
Herman Becks’ process for producing free range chickens is most popular today with home farmers and small scale free range chicken farms. It allows them to practice their natural behavior by allowing them more space. Most people don’t know this but chickens have a sophisticated social order. This is where the etymology of pecking order comes from.
This additional space allows them to move about, picking the best food as only nature know how and also allows them to practice natural behavior. Chickens that are kept too close together will fight, sometimes to the death and trampling are common as with any animal in close quarters. The term free range refers to its forage, while cows have a long forage called a pasture, chickens are a small animal and only have a range of a few inches.
This method is quite sustainable and will improve the farmer’s soil from chicken droppings. Combined with fresh air and exercise, free range chicken meat and eggs with often show different physical characteristics as well as chemical differences.
They will show in tests that omega-3s are more prevalent in natural free range products. The eggs will be a golden color yolk and the meat will taste different.
Chickens can also be kept as pets, though they need specialized care and roaming room similar to any exotic bird. Chickens will need a coop, preferably outside as they do not wait to defecate. They need a heating element which will keep them warm from drafts and a guard animal like a cattle dog to keep the chickens from becoming trapped with a natural predator.
Show chickens are also available, with some cocks reaching very large sizes. However, the viability of these show chickens as free range meat animals have not been determined. These animals expend a lot of energy growing their show feathers and maintaining their plumage, and therefore would not be a good choice.