We need a "Real Free Range Chicken" campaign

Hi, last night I watched a very disturbing documentary on SBS entitled “For the Love Of Meat”. It revolved around the practises of intensive chicken farming. The methods used to maximise production and fatten chickens quickly were cruel and had no regard for the animal.

When I has a quick look on Internet for free range alternatives there seemed to be a range of prices . For example Woolworths sell Macro free range thigh fillets for $14.99/kg, Coles sell Inglewood free range thigh fillets for $16.00 / kg while canning free range butchers sell the same product for $18.00/kg and Belmore Biodynamic Meats sell it for $25.00/kg.

Could Choice please research and advise chicken producers that truly provide free range chickens. For example RSPCA certified chickens have no access to outside areas & from memory were only allowed 4 hours sleep a day ( this promotes eating & therefore faster growth. The campaign for clarity over free range eggs, which not providing the regulatory outcomes we would have liked, shone a light on the production methods and through the CLUCKar app allowed us to make a truly informed choice regarding our purchase of eggs. We need to do the same for chicken meat.


Unfortunately, deciding which farm is better for chickens and the environment is a lot more complicated than the CHOICE review makes it out to be. Stocking density is not the only factor in determining chicken welfare and environmental sustainability. One farm with a higher stocking density that adopts rotation may actually be better than another farm with a lower stocking density but no rotation. I am no chicken farmer, but I understand that the situation is a lot more complex and unresearched than CHOICE admits to.

I would love for CHOICE to partake in a much more detailed review of chicken farms as this would be incredibly beneficial for the companies doing the right thing and the consumers who want to choose the right products.


Thanks natural.thought. I agree it is complex but I believe Choice has the resources to tackle the issue with some vigour and provide clarity about our purchases.


Matthew Evans’s program about poultry farming practices was very revealing. We need to know where our food comes from. As a precursor to the issue of how chickens are fed and housed, we (the general public) also need to know more about how the birds are selected in the first place.
There is an ongoing campaign being run by the RSPCA and similar groups attempting to expose and stop the inhumane practices currently being used to cull unwanted chickens soon after they have hatched. Google “cull unwanted chickens” for more information.
This is yet another “out of sight / out of mind” element associated with large scale food production.


Absolutely!!! The cruelty in this industry is disgusting. No excusu for the appalling conditions they keep these poor creatures in. I sure hope these people get their kama soon!Uploading...


Anyone who is really concerned can just stop eating chicken. I never buy it, and I am not a veggie.


I agree with Albie’s suggestion. I expect the free range claims on chicken labels are as misleading as those on eggs. I too watched For the Love of Meat - very informative.

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Actually Leptobrama we have stopped eating chicken. We will however visit the organic shop & purchase some from there. The issue is that I’m still trusting the supplier without any independent third party review. If I follow your logic if I think there is too much crime on the street I should stay inside & forget about it! I say no! We deserve to know how our food is produced and I believe Choice has the resources and expertise to provide that information and influence regulatory labelling.


Crime is not a valid analogy. No market, no chicken sales.

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The governments of the various states and territories of Australia have been conned by “big business” into altering the law so that anyone can use the term “free range” - it is now completely meaningless in Australia - you might as well call eggs “plasticine” and chickens “bubble gum”. The expression “free range” doesn’t just NOT inform consumers what they are buying. It is, in most cases, TOTALLY UNTRUTHFUL AND MISLEADING.
And anyone selling stuff from chicken farms running 10 or 15 thousand hens to the hectare, who uses the term “free range” to flog their garbage to consumers, should be prosecuted for grossly and wilfully misleading the consumer.


I remember the old days, I am past 70 and we would go down the back and select a chook, chop the head off, gut it and pull all the feathers off. But chook was a Sunday lunch special occasion instead of the roast. We later on went into the food business and started the first BBQ chicken cooker in a small country town and charged $2 per bird. I now pay $8 - $10 for a bird in Woolies, Five times what we sold them for. But the average wage from 1969 to now has gone up a lot more than five times. So the real value of a BBQ chicken now is very cheap. That is what large scale farming practices have done. I was getting $30 a week then on an average wage, the current average wage is about $500/week now. So that is about 14 times (16) more and if we increase the BBQ chicken price by 14 times that makes my $8 bird now about $114 each! Yes I know, I am simplifying the math, but the cost of a bird has gone down considerably due to economies of scale. I don’t think the general population would pay what it would cost to change to REAL free range. I also don’t think that Choice has the ability to investigate as the large chicken producers guard their farms very carefully. They know that their production methods are cruel. They know that we the population would be upset, but they also know that we would NOT pay the cost of a bird raised in a less cruel manner. Just don’t eat chicken like me unless you raise it yourself and process it yourself. I don’t think there is an answer to cheap food and better production methods. Halving the amount of birds will double the price, and sadly that is still a lot of birds in a small area. Every thing in the chicken raising process is cost related. Increase the dark time means more time in the shed, and that is more costs. Let them out means more security in the yard and also more chance of infection. Every thing that we want (me too) for the bird will increase the price. Free range means more land, less sheds greater costs. Just raise your own birds, kill your own birds, clean your own birds. Not going to happen. I will now go into hiding in my bunker with 10 foot thick concrete walls lined with steel and wait the abuse. But before you abuse me, think, how much are you prepared to pay? Because EVERY change we make to chicken farming is a cost that we will have to pay.

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No need for the bunker @pandrew3, we welcome honest and meaningful debate here.

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I understand a decision to not buy a product on ethical grounds, but more actively trying to change the industry gets the message out there for consumers and industry players alike. That’s why we need Choice and people like Matthew Evans to get the word (and even more powerfully, images) out there to show as many consumers as possible what they are eating. That way more people are informed and empowered to vote with their wallet for the good products and encourage more responsible practices.


I watched this too and it made my decision to be vegetarian (many years ago) something I am very happy about. I appreciate that other people like meat but they should be prepared to eat a little less (better for their health too) and pay a little more so that these animals at least enjoy a better life before being butchered for the table…


You can change animal welfare standards with your wallet.

Given the logistics and ‘food miles’ of buying meat from a supermarket, I think the straightforward answer is to simply shop as close to the source as possible. We have a great farmers market every few weeks where I can get truly free range (pastured, with a lovely dog to keep them safe) chicken. The price is higher, but I will happily pay that to ensure I am not contributing to poor animal welfare.

Alternatively, there are a number of butchers now who realise that people genuinely want to know where their meat comes from. Again, that comes at a higher price than you would see at the supermarket, but its a damn sight better to give that money to real butchers who know and respect their product, rather than some corporations and shareholders.

The butcher we go to is 2 suburbs away from home, but they can answer all manner of questions about the way their meat is raised, slaughtered and prepared.

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Most animal farming traets the animals as items like plants or inanimate objects. The RSPCA supposedly is for the prevention of animal cruelty.However, all those farming practices employed at “RSPCA Approved” farms are NOT without ause either.IF you or I raised animals in the similar conditions, we would be prosecuted. Two sets of rules, and that is NOT fair on animals. If you want to ensure animals are NOT abused- by farming or slaughtering techniques, consider alternatives. There is a rapidly growing line of animals free foods, many are created to look like animal products to help you change.Tasty, healthy and no animal is murdered or abused.

I do accept and respect those who do prefer to eat animal products and agree with Albie that perhaps CHOICE could become involved in the classing of genuine free range animal products. ACCC should also be involved, as marketing a product as one thing when it is not is illegal.


Yes, there are many animal rights issues that worry me. Intensive pig farming and cattle feed-lotting are both unethical as well as meat-chooks. Then there’s the live sheep/cattle export industry. I’ve written a page on my concerns.



RSPCA choice is a total waste of time. When you realise that farmers make up a large part of their membership, you understand why.

When people know what happens to animals, they tend to do the right thing. We need to be responsible for our actions. The government never is. But people usually are when they know.


I am in SE Queensland and have spent a LOT of time researching poultry products. For meat I buy from Bendele - organic, free range, small family farm, not machine slaughtered.

For eggs I buy from Walker - nomadic pastured chickens, small family farm.

They may be a bit more expensive but I figure they’re cheaper in the long run. Pastured eggs have 3-5 times as much Omega 3, choline, biotin, Vitamin A & E. Cage might be cheaper but you would have to eat three times as much to get the same amount of nutrients as one pastured. When you look at it from a nutritional point of view, pastured eggs are cheaper.

Do your research and I am sure you can find an ethical producer in your area. I shop at farmers markets and wholefood stores. I try to stay away from the major supermarkets as much as I can. Most of the time they don’t sell what I want anyway.

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I agree completely. The intent of my post is that all consumers should have information at the point of sale which gives them the knowledge of what they are purchasing. For example if a chook was labelled “intensively farmed” that’s fine - one can choose to purchase or not. Then we come to the grey area “free range”. This needs clarity as it did for eggs. The Federal Government has regulated that eggs may be labelled free range which is far below the CSIRO model which was adopted by Choice. To assist the consumer Choice then brought out the CluckAR app to further assist consumers make an informed decision. In the program I referred to in the original post, none of the people in the street had any idea how the chooks were raised and were shocked, as I was when they leant the truth. We need a community education program, clarification of production methods and labelling that clearly points to the production method. This is why I think Choice is in an excellent position to take on this issue. It’s not a single person issue; it’s a consumer issue across the board. I appreciate your advice and will certainly not be buying intensively farmed chicken in the future.