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Animal Welfare FAQS

Are Australian chickens kept in a cage?

Chickens that are grown in Australia to produce the chicken meat that you eat (as opposed to those that lay eggs) are not kept in cages. They are raised on the floor in large barns, where ventilation systems control the barn environment, such as the temperature and air quality. Some farms also provide the chickens with access to an outdoors area or range.

What is the difference between free range chickens, organic chickens and conventionally farmed commercial meat chickens?

All chickens have access to a barn or other enclosed housing for their protection from predators and adverse weather. As the name indicates, free-range chickens are allowed access to an outside run in which they can freely range outside their sheds during the day.

Organic chickens are fed on diets prepared from ingredients that are not treated with insecticides or pesticides. In addition, space allowances are higher, and only chickens that have not been given antibiotics at any stage during their life should be sold under an organic label or under the Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia (FREPA) mark.

For more information, you may wish to consult the website of the specific industry organisations, for example Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia Ltd (FREPA) and the Organic Federation of Australia.

Does free range mean that chickens live outside their whole life?

Free-range chickens, regardless of the standard that is being used, will spend the first few weeks of their life, until they are fully feathered, inside an enclosed chicken barn. This is because without their adult feathers, they are extremely susceptible to the cold, and at this young age they are also very vulnerable to predation.

After they have sufficient adult feather cover to handle the outside temperatures and are big enough that they aren’t easily taken by aerial predators, they are allowed access to an outside area during daylight hours. They spend the night inside the chicken barn, however, so that they are protected from predators.  

During the day, not all chickens are outside at all times. In particular, if the weather is wet, very hot or windy they may prefer spending time inside. Some chickens appear to use the outside area more than others. Water and feed are only made available inside the barn for biosecurity reasons.

Do free range chickens have access to feed and water while outside the barn?

No feed or water is offered outside on the range because it would attract wild birds and rodents, which are a major source of bacteria and viruses that could affect the health of the chickens, and also pose potential risk to consumers.

What is Halal?

Halal refers to food that is prepared in a way that makes it fit for consumption by Muslims.

Where can I purchase Halal chicken meat?

Many butchers and supermarkets sell Halal certified chicken meat.

What is required for chicken meat to be Halal?

The chicken must be processed in a manner that is consistent with the rules of the Muslim faith, which requires that:

  1. a prayer is spoken at the beginning of the day;
  2. the person supervising the slaughtering process must be of Muslim faith; and
  3. the facility has to be accredited by a local Muslim cleric or Islamic certification body.
How is this different from the non-Halal process?

There are no practical differences in how the chickens are killed and processed between Halal and non-Halal – the only differences are the three points listed above. A person observing the actual process would be unable to distinguish one from the other and staffing levels are identical. All poultry must be stunned before being killed.

Is all Halal meat sold as Halal-Certified chicken meat?

Because the physical process is the same for both Halal and non Halal products and there is no additional cost involved, approved processing plants may process a whole day’s chickens observing the Halal requirements, with only some of the product being required to be Halal certified.