Research has shown that the meat from pastured poultry — birds raised outdoors on pasture eating a balanced feed ration and green plants and insects — has a higher nutritional quality than meat from conventionally raised birds.
- Less saturated fat, more polyunsaturated fats
- Higher omega-3 fats and lower omega-6 fats
- Higher levels of protein and collagen
Why is Pastured Poultry Healthier?
Forage — the edible portion of plants other than seeds and grains — is an excellent source of beneficial omega-3 fats. Grains such as corn are primarily omega-6 fats. Poultry absorb the fats in their feed relatively unchanged. Thus, conventionally raised poultry that eat only grain-based feeds have higher levels of omega-6 fats. But pasture raised poultry that can supplement their diets with forage naturally have more omega-3 fats.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are both forms of polyunsaturated fats that are essential to human health — our bodies cannot make these fats so we must get them from our diet. A diet low in omega-3 fats compared with omega-6s can contribute to inflammation and chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart failure.
Pasture raised poultry also exercise more than confinement raised poultry. This contributes to better muscle development, resulting in higher protein and collagen content.
How to Get Real Pastured Poultry
Supermarket poultry can carry many labels, including “free-range” and “pasture raised.” However, these labels are misleading. Under United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labeling laws “free-range” poultry only need to be given “access” to the outdoors. Often this means “free-range” poultry are raised in large barns that may contain 100,000 birds or more with only a small door to allow them access to the outdoors, which they likely never use.
“Pasture raised” implies the birds are raised on pasture. However, this term has no legal definition of what pasture is or legal requirements about the “pasture raised” label.
The only way you can be sure you are getting real pastured poultry is to buy directly from small, local farmers. At SLAP Farms our doors are always open and we invite you to come visit us and see how our poultry are raised.
To learn more about the health benefits of pastured poultry visit www.FoodAnimalConcernsTrust.org.