With so much choice on offer when it comes to chicken, what makes organic chicken different? What exactly is organic chicken?
No doubt you have heard the term ‘organic,’ and no doubt you have, at some point, not really known exactly what organic actually entails – especially when it comes to meat!
There are certain aspects of the production of a specific item, in this instance its chicken, where particular standards must be met along the process. These standards will be implemented right from egg to plate to enable the chicken to be classified as organic.
So how does the chicken we consume make it in the organic stakes, and what makes it so unique compared to regularly produced chicken?
What are Organic Standards for Chickens?
There are strict standards that need to be adhered to during the production of chicken for it to be classed as organic.
While there are many different classifications of chicken (such as barn chickens, grass-fed chickens, and free-range chickens), organic chicken is a whole different breed of chicken that is bred for meat in the UK (excuse the pun).
With organic chicken, you will be consuming chicken that has been legally defined as organic. The organic standards of farming chicken for consumption carry legal protection as well as legal enforcement if those standards are not adhered to.
These standings in UK and EU law only go towards highlighting how serious and important an organic status is. These standards include:
- Normal Behaviour – The chickens have plenty of space to investigate, fee freed, and forage, which mimics their most instinctive behaviour.
- Space – The chickens have more space per animal, both indoors and outdoors. Organic farms usually have lower flock numbers than factory-farmed chickens, for instance, and this means they have more space per chicken to move around freely.
- Feed and Bedding – The chickens will be provided with higher standards of both feed and bedding materials for comfort and quality.
- Antibiotics – Organic chicken farms will not routinely use antibiotics. This practice is widely used in those meat-producing farms with a high number of heavily controlled animals to ward off disease but is strictly prohibited in organic farms.
- Organic Land – The land in organic farms where the chickens roam freely is also monitored and scrutinised for its adherence to organic standards. The land there does not use herbicides, and only minimal use of pesticides is permitted on the land itself.
The standards for organic chicken are regularly and rigorously monitored and maintained. This is absolutely necessary to rear the most gold-standard chicken and keep the status of the farm and the high quality of the chicken that is produced.
Is Organic Chicken More Expensive Than Regular Chicken?
As you can imagine, there is indeed a higher price point when it comes to purchasing chicken with an organic certification.
If you think about the organic standards listed above, these chickens do have an excellent quality of life, and they live a longer life too!
The quality of the care the chickens receive is exceptional in comparison to the regular production of chicken and is significantly better than cheap chicken you can now buy in the supermarket. You have to question how a whole chicken can cost so little!
There is more thought that goes into their welfare needs, which may inadvertently involve more human input as opposed to machine-led provisions.
Organic chicken is usually farmed in smaller flocks per farm, which affords them the correct amount of feed per chicken. Their feed is also of more premium quality. Adding that into their ability to free-roam for way over half of their natural lives means these chickens really are the top of quality stakes!
Their feed is more available to each chicken too!
Quality input = quality output when it comes to organically-reared chicken or any other organic produce, for that matter!
Should You Be Opting For Organic Chicken?
When it comes to welfare and treatment, organically bred animals really do have the most regal lifestyle in comparison to their factory-farmed counterparts.
If you are conscious about the animal’s care during the course of its life, you will be heading straight for the organic-certified label on your chicken products. It has the freedom and treatment to be happy, well looked after, and stress-free, which can be reflected in the quality meat at the consumer end.
Yes, it has a higher price point than mass-produced chicken for high turnover consumption. That is an element that is entirely justified when you think about all of the welfare, feed, and condition standards that need to be installed maintained to classify the chicken as organically-reared.
Ultimately, chicken (and meat) should never have become as cheap as it now is.
Of course, you can offset the difference in cost by lowering your consumption of chicken or making the quality product go further with some really clever recipes throughout the week.
Is Organic Chicken Worth It?
In my opinion, if you have the forethought to towards the welfare and conditions of the chicken during its life, then the organically-reared chicken is definitely worth it.
Suppose you are looking for a more nutritionally dense chicken product. In that case, you will find that the nutrition benefits of organic chicken marginally outweigh those of regular chicken, mainly because they can free-roam, free-feed, and are given top-quality food that is not genetically modified or pumped with fillers.
If you are looking for top-quality chicken that has been reared under strict legal requirements to make sure that the chicken has been cared for in the most ethical way throughout its life, then there really is no alternative.
However, let’s suppose you are looking for cheap meat, with little consideration towards the animal’s welfare, and just want a lot of chicken for as little as possible money-wise? Well, in that case, organic chicken is not for you.