What is free-range chicken?
There is much debate as to what constitutes free-range farming. From chicken and pork to eggs and other animal by-products, the concept of free-range has developed many meanings. This is not helped by the fact there is currently no Australian national standards for free-range chicken farming.
At Mt Barker Chicken we have a very clear set of standards that govern how we care for our birds.
When the chicks are about three weeks old and fully feathered, the doors are opened and they can roam far and wide and do what comes naturally on the free-range pastures. They forage through grass, explore the play gyms with perching bales and shade themselves under trees and artificial shelters.
Our idea of free-range farming is simple: the chickens are left to roam freely and forage outdoors during the day on an area not less than three times the area of the coop or shed and are sheltered from predation and inclement weather at night.
The pastures are planted with nut and fruit trees and reticulated when water is available. The sprinklers are used to shower the chickens with cool water on scorching hot days.
All our birds are grown naturally – this means no artificial hormones or antibiotic growth promoters are used, and our flocks forage on chemical free pastures.
Our chickens are fed a special diet that includes the best quality hormone-free natural grains and protein.
All Mt Barker free-range chickens are raised in the south-west of Australia. The region is well known for its clean environment, pure water and award winning produce.
Our birds are treated with the utmost respect at all times. Mt Barker chickens are raised by caring farmers and highly trained support staff who sign an animal welfare covenant. Our farms are all monitored by independent veterinarians. In essence this ensures our animals are free from hunger, thirst, discomfort, pain or distress. Mt Barker Chicken was the first RSPCA free-range approved chicken farmer in Australia.
Independent poultry veterinarians continuously monitor the health and well-being of Mt Barker Chicken flocks to ensure the safety and quality of our products is maintained.
Standards (RSPCA-approved) for the size of the free-range area for the chickens are 1.5 x of indoor area for new farms or 1 x indoor area for existing farms. At Mt Barker we apply 3x the indoor area, meaning our chickens have 3 times more space than required by the RSPCA approved scheme. We also require our free-range area to have year-round vegetation cover and reticulation when water is available.
Mt Barker Chicken sets itself the highest possible standards of free-range to ensure our chickens live in a happy and stress-free environment. Our stress free growing conditions give free-range animals their superior taste and texture.
We believe passionately that natural and WA fresh is always best.