What is the difference between grain-fed, free-range and pasture-raised chickens

A. Grain-fed chickens are raised using conventional and industrial farming methods. The chickens are raised and confined in small cages or spaces for twenty-four hours of the day. Their only purpose is to gain mass as quickly as possible, and to reach a certain weight, so that they may be marketed on mass.

Free-range chickens, however, refer to chickens that have access to the outdoors and roam freely for a portion of the day. The term “free-range” has often been used incorrectly. It is therefore vital that when buying a free – range chicken, that you do so from a reputable company that honors the true meaning of free-range, by allowing their chickens to roam freely for most of the day.

Pasture-raised chicken (Meaning: raised on pasture) is a sustainable agricultural technique that raises chickens on the field. It is the most humane way of raising chickens, but most importantly, it has clear and proven nutritional benefits as the chickens are exposed to sunlight, they eat from the field all day, and they remain healthy (just as nature intended).

Numerous studies have proven that a pasture-raised chicken will have 30 % less saturated fat, 50% more vitamin A and a much higher level of Omega 3 acids than your conventional grain-fed chicken.

Where do ‘Country Butcher’ chickens come from?

A.Our chickens are sourced from local farms in the Swellendam and greater Overberg area, where they are raised on pasture. They roam freely all day long, eating seeds, grass and insects. They are happy and healthy chickens. We refer to them as our “farm chickens “They live on the farm and eat from the land (as every chicken should).

During periods of high demand, when we need to buy extra chicken, we make sure that we source free-range chickens from a reputable company in the Overberg. We can therefore assure you that if you buy from The Country Butcher, you will always be buying proper, healthy and tasty chicken.

Why is pasture-raised chicken meat more expensive than grain-fed chicken meat?

A.The answer to this question lies within simple maths, as illustrated in the verbal equations below:

Grain-fed: Multiple chickens per m2 + force-fed + short lifespan = low production cost.

Pasture-raised: Less than one chicken per m2 + proper pasture needed + longer lifespan to allow natural weight gain = high production cost.

How long can I keep my chicken in the fridge?

A.The rule of thumb would normally be, no longer than two days. One should rather put chicken in the freezer if you are not going to eat it within a couple of days of purchasing.

On the other hand, when you buy a marinated chicken product from us (for example our chicken sosaties), the natural preservative (vinegar and lemon juice) in the marinade, will allow you to keep the product for up to five days in the fridge.

Any other chicken advice?

A. Always buy your chicken from a reputable company or farm. Do so because it has clear health benefits, you will be supporting a sustainable and humane form of farming, and to be quite honest, the chicken will simply taste better!