Free-range Poultry Production

July 20, 2018

When it comes to credible poultry production data, it's hard to get it straight from the chicken's beak. As the authors of CAST's latest publication said, "There is a distinct lack of usable definitions and knowledge, as well as a great deal of confounding research related to this field." CAST IP 61--Impact of Free-range Poultry Production Systems on Animal Health, Human Health, Productivity, Environment, Food Safety, and Animal Welfare Issues--adds plenty of accessible information about this topic for the public and policymakers alike.

CAST rolled out the publication at three events on July 18 in Washington, D.C. Social media comments and analytical press articles are using the material to further the discussion about this animal welfare issue. Scroll down to page two for more information.

CAST EVP Kent Schescke welcomed audiences at three sessions in the nation's capital on July 18 to roll out the organization's latest issue paper: Impact of Free-range Poultry Production Systems on Animal Health, Human Health, Productivity, Environment, Food Safety, and Animal Welfare Issues

The events included a morning panel discussion cohosted by the Food Marketing Institute, a lunch program at the Longworth House Office Building, and an afternoon program at the Senate's Capitol Visitor Center.  

As farmers in the United States try to develop new poultry operations that meet consumer demand and continue to make sustainability strides, they often deal with confusing definitions and confounding research related to this field. Led by Task Force Cochairs Jacqueline P. Jacob and Anthony J. Pescatore, the authors of this issue paper bring attention and clarification to the topic as they assess various aspects of multiple poultry production systems.

Image to Right: Anthony Pescatore presents at a CAST rollout on the Hill. He and cochair Jacqueline Jacob (both of the University of Kentucky) led three sessions. Click here to access a video/PowerPoint presentation of the key findings.

Reactions and Resources

A Feedstuffs article says the paper shows that "while many perceive free-range poultry production systems to be more animal-welfare friendly, the research comparing the different production systems is inconclusive and often contradictory."An analysis in AgriPulse agreed and noted the research shows that "The safety of poultry meat and eggs is determined more by management than by whether the birds are in confined facilities or outdoors."

The full text of CAST IP 61 is here, and its companion Ag quickCAST is here.    

On a related note, this blog includes a look at the backyard chicken phenomenon and the science breakthroughs regarding the "sexing" of chickens.