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How free-range are free-range chickens?

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Not quite a free-range as you might think.

Asked by: Emma Spratley, Newcastle-under-Lyme

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UK regulations require free-range poultry to have access to the outside during daylight hours via ‘popholes’. Each bird needs to have at least 4m2 of outside space. The indoor barn where the birds perch and lay eggs can have up to nine birds per square metre.

EU organic standards require lower densities of six birds per square metre in the barns, and maximum flock numbers of 3,000 birds. Under certain organic standards, beak trimming is not permitted, but this is allowed with free-range hens.

Does evolution explain whether the chicken or egg came first? © Getty Images

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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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