Free-Range Certification

Free-range systems are believed to improve the health and welfare of birds, thereby meeting consumer demand. Some consumers are also interested in birds raised with outdoor access (free-range). Many consumers buy these products because they think they are of superior quality, and taste better. Some countries have very specific definitions for outdoor and other specialty products. Production systems vary widely, from large stationary houses with gardens to small portable houses that are often moved to new pastures.

Farm poultry must meet legal requirements. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) requires chickens to have designated space (no more than 13 chickens per square meter), be 56 days old before slaughter, and have constant access outside during the daytime. Access to open air and vegetation for at least half of its life.

Traditionally constrained systems can cause stress in animals, leading to physiological and behavioral responses and poor performance. Outdoor production systems with no restrictions on birds reduce stressful conditions and allow for the selection of strains that increase bird comfort and welfare. In addition, outdoor production systems give chicken better flavor than traditional closed systems. Because of these advantages, birds have been raised in outdoor systems. This new approach has prompted the agricultural sector to implement laws and policies related to quality production and certification standards for birds.

Many factors influence bird growth and performance, including genotype, age, sex, diet, density, environment, exercise, and grazing intake. A better understanding of these factors and how they interact will help improve performance in free-range farming, where unpredictable conditions can lead to dimensional changes in treated carcasses and parts. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of a free-range system on growth performance, carcass yield, and meat quality in slow-growing chickens.

Standards for CDG

CDG has the highest standards of any external audit program. This program prohibits forced starvation and beak clipping, as well as feeds containing meat or animal by-products. Flocks must contain fewer than 500 birds.

  • Each hen should have 1.8 square feet of floor space in the coop and be able to nest, roost and dust bathe
  • Birds need constant access to outdoor areas for foraging and ranging.
  • Outdoor areas must be covered with growing vegetation and provide at least 4 square feet of space per bird
  • Suppliers must meet stocking density, habitat, and nest box requirements

CDG levels of certifications


  • Birds that are not caged but have been kept indoors
  • Birds must be able to nest, perch and bathe
  • Suppliers must comply with regulations regarding stocking density, habitat count and nest boxes


  • Birds should have access to outdoor area for at least six hours each day
  • Each hen should have at least 2 square feet of outdoor space
  • The outdoor space doesn’t need to have any living vegetation


  • Birds should be placed on a pasture for at least six hours each day
  • Each hen should have at least 108 square feet of pasture
  • The pasture should be covered mainly with living vegetation


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